Monday, March 28, 2005

the Baron has arrived

I started watching the Warriors a bit in the mid to late '80s, when Jordan was ruling the league. Back then, Mullin, Hardaway, and Richmond were doing their thing, and the Warriors weren't the best, but at least they made the playoffs every couple of years.

In late '91, Richmond got traded to the Kings for Billy Owens, and although the Warriors did make the playoffs the year afterwards, I always felt like things started to go downhill from there. There was a faint glimmer of hope in '94 when Mullin, Webber and Sprewell managed to get the Warriors back into the playoffs, but then Webber got traded, and a few years later Sprewell famously tried to choke P.J. Carlesimo. After that, I basically gave up watching basketball at all; although I did read the sports section, so like most Bay Area sports fans, I could always reel off a list of former Warriors who were now stars of other teams.

A couple of years ago, when I started to play basketball, I started to watch the NBA again. I enjoyed watching the Rockets, the Kings, the Pistons, the Spurs, the Mavs, and the Heat, but I never really felt any compulsion to start watching the Warriors again, until a month ago.

On February 25th, the Warriors acquired Baron Davis for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis. The Chronicle's Ray Ratto said it best: Chris Mullin finally found a talented player on a team so bad that going to the Warriors would seem like a fabulous career move.

A bunch of us happened to have tickets to the Pistons game on the night that Baron Davis made his debut with Golden State. Our anticipation was well rewarded, because as soon as Davis got on the court, the Warriors started to look better. It was obvious that Davis was giving the team some much needed leadership and explosiveness. And, even though the Warriors still lost, the crowd at the Coliseum showed their appreciation (and probably, surprise) throughout.

Since then, the Warriors have gone 8-7, which doesn't sound that great, except to anyone who's lived in the Bay Area in the past 15 years. Players like Richardson, Dunleavy, Cabarkapa, and Pietrus are taking better shots, and putting up significantly higher numbers. I imagine Richardson must thank his lucky stars every day; those monster dunks he's now getting wouldn't be happening with Claxton or Fisher at point.

With the addition of Davis, the Warriors are suddenly fun to watch, they play with energy and best of all, they look like they're on their way up. They've beat a succession of good teams, including Sacramento (twice!) and Phoenix. If Davis can get fully healthy next year (that's one serious worry; he's known to be injury-prone) I think the Warriors will have a real chance to make the playoffs.

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