Eight years ago after my 13th birthday I decided to spend a large portion of my savings on a Golden State Warriors ticket package that included half the season’s home games. For some reason I thought this was going to be the year we made the playoffs; or at least we would be in the running, I was certain of that.
In retrospect, I wish somebody had set me straight, because looking back at that 2003-04 roster, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that team could have ever made the playoffs. They wound up 37-45 (quite an achievement, really, if you consider the fact that Eric Dampier started at center, Speedy Claxton started at point guard, and even Brian “The Custodian” Cardinal occasionally started. As a side note, Cardinal inconceivably – albeit somewhat admirably – parlayed a few corner threes and a year of hustle plays into a laughable 6 year, $39 million contract from the Grizzlies).
Perhaps that year should have taught me a valuable lesson about what it means to be a Warriors fan: the customary cyclical pattern of optimism inevitably followed by futility and disappointment. Far from learning any lessons, however, in the end I was left only with a strong distaste for Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy, or the Dun-Murphy sisters as KNBR talk-show host Damon Bruce so aptly nicknamed them for their consistently soft play.
Golden State did finally reach the playoffs in ’06-’07 for the first time in nearly a decade and a half. They rid themselves of the sisters, and then Baron Davis and Captain Jack caught lightning in a bottle, which culminated in the triumph over top seeded Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. I will always look back on that series as one of my favorite sports memories, a small reward to one of the most devoted, loyal fan-bases in the NBA.
Of course in the scheme of things it meant very little for the franchise, which was still owned and run by the awful Chris Cohan and his inept management. Failure to make the playoffs the next year resulted in the disbandment of the ’06-’07 team, and as fans we were back at step one: disillusionment, disappointment and irrational hope for a successful following year.
So here we are in 2012. The Warriors have new owners and a sparkling new front office headed by Jerry West and GM Bob Meyers. Last year they were able to swap an undersized combo guard in Monta Ellis for one of the better centers, health provided, in the league in Andrew Bogut. This year Golden state put together one of their most solid drafts in years, and then got an absolute steal when they traded for Jarrett Jack.
Talking to someone earlier today I once again heard myself saying “If we stay healthy, I think we’ve got a great shot at making the playoffs this year” (which seems to be some sort of mantra for Warriors fans). And honestly, I truly believe that; just like I believed it when I said it last year with Monta and Steph Curry running the backcourt; just as I believed it in 2003 when Dampier and my man Adonyl Foyle were fumbling around in the frontcourt.
Here’s to hoping that I never learn. Only this year they’ll be in the running; I’m certain of that. Oh, and I still don’t much like Dunleavy or Murphy.