“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Anonymous

It’s a sad day. Not because the Warriors lost. I’m okay with the loss. The team was far more successful than any of us realistically thought they’d be.

It’s a sad day because we won’t get to watch this Warriors team play a game for another five months. No family trips to Oracle for five months. No high-fives around the living room couch after a Curry three, a Bogut block or a posterizing dunk from Barnes. For five months. No speaking to the TV like the players can hear me. “That’s great defense right there, Klay. Keep it up!” “Carl Landry, your pump fakes are a thing of beauty.”

None of that. For five months.

The Warriors are my favorite team in all of sports and this may have been my favorite Warriors team ever. When picking a favorite team, it’s not just about the team itself or the results. It’s also your personal context around that team.

For me, the competition for my favorite team has always been between the two Run TMC seasons (1989-90 and 1990-91, hard to believe there were only two of them) and Chris Webber’s rookie season (1993-94, his only season with the Warriors).

Run TMC was the prime of my basketball fandom. A 15-year-old starting to understand and appreciate the game. With dreams of glory for my team and aspirations of basketball relevance for myself by working day-in-day-out on my Mullin jumper and Timmy crossover.

Webber’s rookie year was best remembered for the excitement of the season and the hope for the future. A future that never materialized. Webber was traded before his second season while Mullin and Hardaway were never healthy or successful as Warriors again.

The 2007-07 “We Believe” team is probably the pick for many Warriors fans. But at 33, I was too focused on two new babies to get overly excited or inspirational about basketball. Plus, that team had Chris Cohan, Bobby Rowell and ugly jerseys. But they also had one of my favorite Warriors, Jason Richardson.

Now at 38, just when I thought nothing could beat the youthful exuberance I felt in the 90s, I get this year’s exciting group of overachieving, brotherly-loving, do-gooding, Aussie-intimidating, Jack-jacking, Stephlon-Donning Warriors.

This may be my favorite team because of the impact it had on my 8-year-old son. He has Steph Curry as a sports role model and the conduit to his dreams of making the NBA.

The skinny, unathletic 6-foot-3 (on a 2-inch block) shooter. Not the beast that is LeBron James or the freak of nature that is Kevin Durant. If my son works hard, he’ll still never be those two. But if he practices his handles and his shot, just maybe, he can come close to doing what Curry does. At least he can believe in that. And so everyday he goes out and plays basketball because of Curry.

This may be my favorite team because my wife used to watch Real Housewives TV shows while running on the treadmill. Now she watches NBA TV. Because of this Warriors team.

This may be my favorite team because my 6-year-old daughter is a big David Lee fan, owns his jersey and only watches the games when he plays. Sure, as a father, this causes me to be a bit more wary of Lee than I should, but I’ll take her David Lee crush over a Justin Bieber crush any day.

This is my favorite team because Harrison Barnes got up and walked off the court.

This is a hard-working team with likable guys. Guys that will stay out of trouble and live most of their lives in the gym. As Coach Jackson said, “I never had one issue. Didn’t have one guy with a separate agenda. Didn’t have cliques inside of my locker room.”

The Warriors have a smart and likable front office, led by Bob Myers with Jerry West. On the court, the team is led by a coach who gets the most from his players. He is a born leader and the players buy in. Maybe my thoughts on the amalgamation of sports and religion aren’t in alignment with his, but it works. His players will do anything for him.

Remember how much we had to hear from, and about, Bobby Rowell when he ran the business operations? Compare that to Rick Welts. Hardly a peep from him and he’s working on a new arena. Oh, and he was the first major sports executive to disclose that he was gay. He’s great at his job and doesn’t get involved in areas outside of his expertise. I’ll take it.

The guys at the top running the show, for me, are not as likable. But Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are getting the job done. Sure, they have huge egos and are pompous. That doesn’t go over well if they are screwing things up. But these guys are doing excellent work. And Lacob has actually taken himself out of the spotlight quite a bit in the last year. But really, let them be egotistical and pompous, as long as it helps the Warriors become a better team, who cares?

In terms of leadership, strategy and organizational structure, the Golden State Warriors are more stable than I can ever remember them being. The playoff run proved they are closer to championship potential than we thought.

Curry became a bona-fide star this season. Now he will actually enjoy an offseason where he can work on key aspects of his game like defense. Expect him to be even better in Year 5.

Bogut showed us what he could do when he’s a bit healthier. Just a bit healthier. Let’s hope he can get closer to his norm next season.

Barnes may be the most exciting notion going into next season. Without David Lee in the playoffs, Barnes proved what he could do with more responsibility.

[Doesn’t know what to say about David Lee here for next season … moving on.]

With his defense, Klay Thompson has proven he will focus on something in the offseason and become very good at it. I will not be surprised if he has better handles next season and is able to get in the lane and finish at the rim much more successfully. History has proven that the third NBA season is when players make their biggest jumps. Let’s hope this proves true for Klay and that he doesn’t run out of steam at the end of the season like he did against the Spurs.

Did you get frustrated about how impactful Danny Green was during the Spurs series? Well, Brandon Rush will be a better version of that for the Warriors next year. Mix that with continued growth from Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli and you have one solid bench trio. Even Kent Bazemore has some potential, but he’s still a question-mark at this point.

If I had to guess, I can see the Warriors bringing Carl Landry back but not Jarrett Jack. I expect Curry, Klay and Barnes to hold down a large bulk of fourth quarter minutes next season. You also have to factor in Rush, which means the wing minutes are pretty well accounted for.

For a back-up point guard, the Warriors are likely going to bring in someone who won’t require many minutes on the court and who is primarily a distributor. Really just someone to spell Curry at the point, because when Curry is not playing point, he, Klay, Barnes and Rush will take up all the minutes at the two and three positions with Green likely splitting time at the three and four.

I truly enjoyed my first year writing for WarriorsWorld and I thank you all for reading.

We did it everyone. What a season. For most of us, it was the best Warriors season we’ve ever been a part of. And it should only get better from here.

Try to stay sane over the next five months.

One Response

  1. Miguel Arenas

    Great piece Jesse! I’ve been a die hard fan since I was a little kid and seeing how we played this year made me so proud of the guys. I’m originally from SF, but now living in NYC- I stayed up every single game this season and it was worth it! I’ll definitely be an avid follower of your blog- good stuff! #dubnation