They aren’t losers anymore. The San Jose Sharks no longer have to bear the weight and burden of the struggles in years past. In their 25th year, they are finally going to the Stanley Cup Final.
You can take a look back at how this team had the President’s Trophy but didn’t win the championship. Or even the time where they were underachieving every time they were predicted to win it all. Or even the sour taste from two years ago when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the rival Los Angeles Kings.
And in a year when they weren’t even considered a favorite with a new head coach, they now have a great chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Throughout this entire journey watching the Warriors play ball this season, I still remain in awe of this team. I still am wrapping my head around the fact that the Warriors won the championship last year. All those years being a fan of a team that couldn’t do anything right is still lingering on. I keep thinking that my team was incapable of winning.
But they won last year. They won it all. Now this year, not only are they even playing better, but they are setting records. The big record is within their reach. But tying the 1995-96 Bulls with 72 wins is a season is still mind-blowing. That Bulls team was so good. They had Michael, Scottie, Dennis and coach Phil. That team was amazing and untouchable.
I look at this Warriors team and I can see that in 10 years time, we could be comparing some of the players to the legends of the game. Right now, Stephen Curry already has established himself as a once-in-a-lifetime talent. This team, winning 72 games puts them in the discussion of greatest teams of all time.
All they have to do is win on Wednesday at home against Memphis. Then, they have to win the NBA Finals once again.
This news didn’t come as a surprise as we saw Kobe Bryant fall apart and become a bandaged player that he once was. His shots were falling short and his mobility was limited. He has given his body everything he could in 20 years of basketball and this has become a sad ending to a storied career.
But I don’t care.
As much as I know and understand how great of a basketball player he is, I honestly don’t have any feelings toward this news or anything else right. I knew it was sad when his decline began a few years ago, but now it just feels like it’s been dragged out.
Growing up in the Bay Area as a Warriors fan, perception of basketball was different than the rest of the world. I wasn’t used to seeing my team win. I wasn’t used to seeing great superstars come through Oakland and staying. I didn’t think my team was good enough and they weren’t. I always had to look up at the Lakers and see them winning all the time and I didn’t like it. And Kobe Bryant was a big part of that. So in an essence, I didn’t like him. Continue reading
Patience is hard to come by when you’re a fan of a franchise that has struggled to reach the top for 40 years. It’s hard to believe that something good can happen when everything wrong has happened. I didn’t think that the enduring pain of seeing the Warriors falter for so many years would go away.
Yet tonight, all that pain and suffering was washed away. Just like that.
Being a Warriors fan wasn’t easy growing up. I was in first grade when I mimicked my first basketball player. That was Chris Mullin. I thought the Warriors were the best. But in the following years, we would see bad trades, bad coaches and bad play. Yet I stuck with them. I didn’t know any better. But I knew that they were the team I fell in love with first and I would stick with them. They were my home team. They represented me. I represented them.
Been a Warriors fan through these three eras.
A trip down memory lane for me as a Warriors fan.
I remember I was in first grade and I saw the Warriors on TV. I didn’t know much about basketball, I just liked it. I would try to imitate what I saw on TV to the playground. I even remember the first ever basket I made on the playground I thought that I could one day match what the Warriors did. It was so easy to be impressed by this Warriors team. Little did I know that they were embarking on a playoff drought. But they were the first team I watched. The first team I followed. I fell in love with basketball because of them. And I never left.
It’s not easy being a Warriors fan. As I grew older, my frustrations would grow more and more with the team. It started off innocently with guys like Joe Smith and Latrell Sprewell. Talented players but still not the answer to making the team successful. Of course there would be some questionable coaching decisions, odd free agent signings and just bad draft picks. Remember Todd Fuller? Yeah, the Warriors took him over Kobe Bryant. Still, I followed this team. I would sit by the radio almost every night, listening to the team on KNBR. I loved basketball and I felt that maybe one day they would turn the tide.
I thought their new logo in the 90s was the best. It was perfect for a kid like me. Some kind of mythical mascot with lightning bolts. That coincided with future draft picks like Vince Carter (who was traded for Antawn Jamison) and Gilbert Arenas. Some hope and potential came but it was not meant to be. Bad coaching hires and frustrating seasons later, this team was back to square one. Still, I followed this team. Of course it would have been easier to follow another team during that time. But I don’t do that. I stay loyal to the team that helped me love the game.
I remember that 1999 lockout season. The Warriors finished 21-29 and almost made the playoffs. I thought that was the greatest season. Only because it was the most successful the team ever hard. The bar wasn’t set high, but it gave me a glimpse of what could be.
Patrick Willis retires after eight seasons in the NFL.
I remember when Barry Sanders retired from the NFL. He had been in the league since 1989 and 10 years later, was still a very effective running back. I was selfish when he announced it because he was so close to becoming the all-time leading rusher. But instead, he walked away because he just didn’t have the same passion anymore. I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted him to play longer. I wanted him to have the record. I hated that he left the game like that.
It took me a long while until I started covering the 49ers as a beat writer in 2009 did I started to understand these kinds of decisions fully.
Every day, I saw what these players go through with their bodies. I see the strain it took on some of them and their families. I saw the difficulties they had to maintain as a famous person. Even though the money was great, the stress and the burdens continued to rise daily. There’s the glory of being a famous NFL player, but there is a lot of other baggage that comes along with.
Draymond Green becomes a restricted free agent after this season.
When the Warriors drafted Draymond Green a few years ago, I was really excited. I had watched Green play at Michigan State since his freshman year and I was very familiar with his skills. He was a player with no place, as his size, frame and athleticism wasn’t a prototype of a successful NBA player. Nevertheless, he had many great qualities and in time, could evolve into someone special.
Fast forward to now and Green is one of the most important players on the Warriors. He’s been getting praise for his ability to shut down defenders down the post and up top at the guard position. His versatility has allowed the Warriors defense to shoot up the top of the ranks in the NBA. Additionally, his offensive numbers have risen. He is still a work in progress and his deep-range shooting at times has hurt the Warriors. But overall, he’s a great asset to the team and has been so key for the Warriors ever since he was named the starter following David Lee’s struggles.
He becomes a restricted free agent after this season, meaning the Warriors can match any offer another team gives Green. The organization, including head coach Steve Kerr, has expressed desire to keep Green with the Warriors. If that’s the case, how come the team hasn’t given him an extension and risk him hitting the free agency market?