Bay Area Sports Franchises: Golden State Warriors

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

NBA Titles: 1956, 1975 (2)

Retired Numbers: #13 Wilt Chamberlain, #14 Tom Meschery, #16 Al Attles, #24 Rick Barry, #42 Nate Thurmond

The Warriors were founded in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Warriors, a charter member of the Basketball Association of America. Led in the early days by Joe Fulks, they won the championship in the league’s inaugural season, before the BAA became the NBA in 1949. The franchise’s other championship in Philadelphia came in the 1955-56 season. In 1959, future legend Wilt Chamberlain was acquired through the draft, and went on to shatter NBA scoring records, propelling Philadelphia to high levels of success through the move to San Francisco in 1962 until his departure from the franchise in 1965.

In 1965, the Warriors drafted Rick Barry, who was named NBA Rookie of the Year in his first season, leading the team to the NBA Finals in 1967, where they lost in six games to the 76’ers who replaced the Warriors upon their departure from Philadelphia. The 1970-71 season was the team’s last as the San Francisco Warriors, as they moved to neighboring Oakland and became the Golden State Warriors. This name change makes the Warriors one of only two teams in the Big Four sports that do not include the name of their state or their city in their name, the other being the New England Patriots.

The Warriors made the playoffs from 1970 to 1977 (with the exception of 1974), and won their only West Coast franchise championship in 1974-75, defeating the favored Washington Bullets in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history.

After the playoff runs in the 70’s, the late 1970’s to 1980’s were a periods of struggles that saw the loss of key players such as Barry to retirement and bad trades. The struggles to keep stars in the city, as well as the troubles in putting together winning teams were very characteristic of trends for the Warriors at the time. The franchise’s ineffectiveness was replaced for a short time by a brief resurgence with new head coach George Karl in the late 80’s. After the departure of Karl, new head coach Don Nelson engineered another successful string of wins in the late 80’s to early 90’s behind the powerful performances of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and former St. John’s draft pick Chris Mullin.

After the short resurgence of the Run T.M.C. era, more futility in the form of poor trades and subpar acquisitions brought about another collapse of the program, culminating in rifts in the locker room, including the infamous incident in which Latrell Spreewell choked head coach P.J. Carlesimo during a team practice in 1997. Similar incidents of bad blood between players, coaches, and management sent the franchise into a virtual tailspin.

In the 2000’s the Warriors seemed on the cusp of another renaissance, fueled by rising stars Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas. However, given the high level of competition in the Western Conference, the team lacked the extra edge to pull off quality play deep in the season. However, mismanagement of personnel and payroll flushed out key players, including Arenas from the Bay Area, prompting a rebuilding era from 2004-2007.

This rebuilding era, characterized by the slogan “We Believe,” as the 2007 season saw the Warriors make it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, led by Richardson, Baron Davis, and Monta Ellis. Entering the playoffs as a #8 seed, the Warriors upset the #1 seed Mavericks in an exciting 7 games before falling in five to the Jazz in the second round.

In the most recent seasons, the Warriors have faced difficulties in remaining playoff contenders, just barely missing the cut in 2008, falling to a disappointing 29-53 in 2009, and turning in another dismal season in 2010, finishing fourth in the Pacific Division with a 26-56 record.

So far, the 2010-2011 season is one of change in the Bay Area, as new ownership, a new logo and fresh faces such as former Knick David Lee, and 2010 Draft pick Ekpe Udoh are part of a new era for the Warriors. Stay tuned tomorrow as we discuss what’s next in Warriors basketball!

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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