A TYPHOON BREWING WEST
Gary Norris Gray- BASN Staff Reporter
The last time the Bay Area had a National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship this writer was a freshman studying hard to become a sophomore at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, it was the spring of 1975. They had a very colorful team with abundance of talent. Players like Center Nate Thurman, Jeff Mullins, Jamaal Wilkes, Phil Smith, and Rick Barry.
In the summer of 2015 it could be happening all over again with another group of talented basketball players like Center Andrew Bogut, Guard-Stephen Curry, Guard Klay Thompson, guard-forward Andre Iguodala and forward Harrison Barnes . It’s fun to watch this wide open basketball style similar to the Golden State Warriors of 1975.
The Warriors were created in 1946 in the City of Brotherly Love Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Warriors became a charter member of the Basketball Association of America with their first owner Peter Tyrrell. The BAA became the National Basketball Association in 1950. Philadelphia Warriors 1961-1962 15
The Philadelphia Warriors drew instant fame by winning the league’s first championship with Joe Falks their leading scorer. They won the Western Title the following year and lost to the Baltimore Bullets 4 games to 2.
Nine years later the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Fort Wayne Pistons four games to one to win their first NBA Title and 2nd professional basketball title. It would be the last one for another nineteen years and a west coast home.
The Warriors abandoned the basketball dribbling and smiling Native American mascot and logo for a more majestic and serious Native American Indian head in 1962. The San Francisco team placed the new Indian head logo on their warm-ups over their hearts. It was as if the team was honoring the Native American population.
This team moved from the east coast to the west coast and had their ups and downs. They had fights with players like Rick Barry over contracts, had fights with coaches over their playing styles, Don Nelson (twice), Mark Jackson, and just had fights in practice with Latrell Sprewell choking the head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
The Warriors played in Oakland and San Jose until the new Oakland Alameda County Coliseum opened outside of center city, Oakland, California. This team would be the only team to play in three cities in one year, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Thus the name Golden State.
It seems like this team always came in second place and struggled in Northern California. They loss two more championships but continue to make NBA history. Wilt Chamberlin still holds the scoring record with 100 points. It was ironic that the second leading Warrior scorer was Alvin Attles with 17 points. Both will be linked to NBA history.
This team had 7 different logos 3 mascots, 14 uniforms, 9 owners and 22 head coaches. The San Francisco-Golden State Warriors were the only team in the league with white tennis shoes. That convinced me to be one of their fans.
This team had only one owner until Mr. Franklin Mieuli stepped down. In 1962 The San Francisco-Golden State Warriors moved to the Cow Palace in Daly City, South San Francisco playing there 10 years. They acquired a new flamboyant owner, Mieuli from 1962 until 1986. Mieuli wore his famous brown private investigator hat tried to get the best players on the floor enabled the team to entered the playoffs multiple times.
The Golden State Warriors went into free fall after the Mieuli ownership. Jim Fitzgerald was chairman of the Milwaukee Bucks until 1985, when the team was sold to Herb Kohl, a former U.S. Senator. In 1986, Fitzgerald and Dan Finnane, also been involved with the Bucks, took over the Golden State Warriors, which they owned through 1995. At the time he owned each of these teams, Fitzgerald had only a “handshake agreement” with Don Nelson, head coach of both teams in turn, not a contract, an arrangement which reflected the friendship and trust between them. In an era of lawsuits and countersuits, this “contract” was unique in professional sports.
Co-owner Christopher Cohan tried to destroy this historic franchise with confusing trades and strange hiring’s. He finally sold the team in July 2010. The Bay Area almost lost this team twice under the leadership of Cohan.
In May 2009, an unnamed editorial writer in Sports Illustrated listed the top ten best and worst owners of basketball teams in his opinion, ranking Cohan as 4th worst. He criticized Cohan for sticking with Coach Nelson as part of the Warriors’ generally poor performance apart from their 2007 playoff first-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks. He pointed out that Golden State was repeatedly rebuilding without much success.
Head coach and General Manager Don Nelson thought he was the star of the show. Nelson thought he was the attraction that fans came to see not the players. It all came to a head in 1995 when Rookie of the Year, Center Chris Webber and forward Letrell Sprewell could not see eye to eye with head Coach Nelson. All three individuals would all leave Oakland that following season.
Don Nelson would return to Oakland in 2007-2010 with the goal of getting the record for most coaching wins (1,335) in the NBA passing the great Lenny Wilkins of the Seattle SuperSonics. Nelson also has the dubious record for the NBA most coaching losses 1,063, which nobody talks about that.
The Warriors are basketball’s Cleveland Indians with Larry Doby. Golden State had the 2nd African American coach from a (HBCU) Historically Black College and University, North Carolina A & T University, Alvin Attles. Attles became the 2nd African American coach to win NBA Title in 1975. Al Attles moved up after two years of coaching to become the General Manager and the longest tendered employee in the NBA. It will be 55 years this summer. Attles had his Aggie number 22 retired in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The first African American coach and NBA Champion was Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics in 1962. Lenny Wilkins became the third Black coach to win with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979.
The Warriors won Western Conference titles multiple years but could not win the NBA title. They lost to the Boston Celtics for the championship in 1964 with the rookie Nate Thurman. Golden State used the first version of the twin towers offense with Wilt Chamberlin and Nate Thurman.
The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers and The Warriors played a six game series in 1967. That big tall center and ex-teammate would haunt them after the trade to Philadelphia. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlin and the Sixers won the NBA Title in 1967. The future still looked bright for the Warriors with a young skinny shooting forward-guard named Rick Barry from Elizabeth, New Jersey and a University of Miami graduate. It would not last long as the growing feud between management and Barry continued. Mr. Barry bolted to the new American Basketball Association, Oakland Oaks.
This was the first NBA team to be named after a state. The Organization wanted to move away from the Indian head logo and did so in 1971. The team also dropped the famous trolley cars on the back of their uniforms that same year and added the state of California on the front like Major League Baseball’s California Angels.
Today they wear the new Bay Bridge span on the front of their jersey with multi colored uniforms that remind fans of the old Philadelphia Warriors. In 2008 Golden State dropped the Thunder logo adopted in 1997. The Warriors had to leave the Thunder mascot behind because the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City to become The Thunder. Golden State gave up their copyrights to that name and logo without a fight.
Today the Golden State Warriors have a new team, a new Arena a new logo in 2015, a new vision. This started five years ago when the Warrior management hired Mark Jackson as head coach. Jackson never was a head coach so it was a work in progress. Jackson put on the hat and improved this franchise. Jackson taught this team how to play New York Knick style defense and it worked.
YOU WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS THROUGH DEFENSE.
The building blocks were being put in place in 2011. Jackson learned this tough defense from his Eastern Conference Championship days in New York and Indiana. The Warriors went to the playoffs in back to back years that had not happened since 1994-95.
When Jackson took the helm in 2011, the franchise had made the playoffs only one time over the prior 17 seasons, averaging only 30.2 wins per year during that period. Jackson, 49, became just the third head coach in franchise history to lead a team to at least 50 wins in a season, joining Don Nelson and Alvin Attles, who both hit the mark twice with the Warriors. With 121 wins overall, Jackson ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time wins list, trailing Attles (557), Nelson (422) and Eddie Gottlieb (263)
Jackson still does not get the credit for turning this losing battleship around, for getting the players to believe in themselves and that they could win with hard work. Jackson created a winning culture in Oracle Arena.
The new Splash Brothers were born. With guard/forward, Klay Thompson and guard Stephen Curry finally rewarding the loyal Warrior fan following with victories, and playoff wins.
Jackson could not get this young team pass the second round and those pesky robotic San Antonio Spurs. The Golden State management wanted a title now. Many thought Jackson was not the man because of his inexperience as head coach and his stubbornness to stay with old offensive plays. Those same individuals stated he won because of the talent on the floor. It cost him his job. Jackson did what most young African American coaches had done in the past, resurrect and fix a flawed franchise.
Jackson’s undoing was his rift with two assist coaches which continued to grow until Brian Scalabrine resigned and Darren Erman firing for the differences of philosophies.
On May 6 The Warrior management relieved Jackson of his coaching duties. Many players were not happy with this decision because Jackson was a player’s coach and a man they could talk to about problems on and off the floor. Others believed that he was let go because of his spiritual life and unwillingness to give up his religious doctrine. Others stated the rift happened because of the open gay/lesbian policies of the new Warrior organization.
The Warriors moved swiftly to replace Jackson with the stroke of genius hiring Steve Kerr. Kerr who played point guard for the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. Mr. Kerr turned down the New York Knick offer a few weeks earlier and walked into a gold mine of talent in Oakland. He could work with Oakland’s superstar shooting guards Stephen Curry and Kay Thompson.
This team went 42-7 in 2015 before the All Star Game, the best record in the NBA. Bay Area fans are now having open discussions about a Golden State Warrior NBA Championship.
Stephen Curry hit four triple doubles this year a record for the Warriors franchise and the season is not over yet with just under twenty games left. With Marc Jackson’s New York Knick defense and Steve Kerr’s San Antonio Spur offensive they are good to go. The Golden State Warriors currently play a spread offense which put pressure on the other team’s defense. The Warriors are always cutting toward the basket, with players throwing the ball back out over the three point line for easy jump shots, this is the way the Warrior offense works. It is fun to watch.
This team has shutdown the high scoring Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Clippers with their clamp-down defense. This is also fun to watch.
NOW TO GET THAT FOURTH CHAMPIONSHIP.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at email@example.com
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