The time has come. Tonight, the Warriors cap off the regular season against the Portland Trailblazers. If they win, they will be in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
The longest playoff drought in the NBA could come to a close tonight.
Suffice to say, it’s been a long, tumultuous road.
We’ve seen the players reach new–or unexpected–heights after leaving the Bay. Tim Hardaway had six or so great years with Miami. Latrell Sprewell took Knicks to the Finals. Chris Webber and Gilbert Arenas became bonafide superstars. Antawn Jamison was an Olympian. Larry Hughes is regularly among the league leaders in steals and is now playing Robin to Lebron’s Batman. Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, Erick Dampier and Jim Jackson have all been valuable contributors to playoff teams.
As if seeing our exports blow up wasn’t bad enough, we experienced the following draft night fiascos in consecutive years:
- 1995: Joe Smith instead of Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse or Rasheed Wallace
- 1996: Todd Fuller instead of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Jermaine O’Neal
- 1997: Adonal Foyle instead of Tracy McGrady
- 1998: Antawn Jamison instead of Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki or Paul Pierce
That’s not even counting Mike Dunleavy (left), Mr. Number Three Pick Overall.
And we’re not sure what category they fall into, but we’ve had point guards named Bimbo, Vonteego, Mookie, Muggsy, Jiri, Speedy and Rusty. And those are just the point guards!
We could go on, but that would be boring. The point is, as Warriors fans, we’ve been through a lot. Just take a peek at some of the gentlemen who have donned Warriors jerseys in the last 12 years. A mere objective look at the non-athletic names alone should tell you a lot:
Vinny Del Negro.
But it could end.
Tonight. Nellie’s team has won 15 of the last 20 games. Portland is resting all of its good players. The stars are aligned. Frankly, we don’t see any way the Warriors could blow this. If they do, this will surpass the 1993 Giants/Solomon Torres debacle in pennant-race disappointment.
So in the name of Ansu Sesay, let’s go Warriors.
[Some images via GSoM]