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How the Warriors evolved to a fan favorite

By Rodrigo de Souza

The Warriors were champs for the first time in 40 years. Photo courtesy of nba.com/warriors
The Warriors were champs for the first time in 40 years.
Photo courtesy of nba.com/warriors

Throughout the last half decade, the Golden State Warriors’ coaching staff have made key decisions that have helped the team move up on the NBA rankings and out of the dark hole that they had been stuck in for a while. Although these key decisions have  brought major success to this infamous team, the grand fan base behind it has not always been in full agreement.

While some moves seemed to be wrong at the moment from the fans’ point of view, all have ended up being vital to building the championship squad that they are now.

Following a poor outcome of the highly anticipated season in the 2010-2011 campaign (36-46), the Warriors fired Keith Smart, their brand new head coach, and hired Mark Jackson, a former player with immense IQ for the game.

Throughout that summer in 2011, Golden State also acquired Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the first and second round of the NBA draft-a shooting guard with great potential at the time, along with a tough and resilient forward. Both were eager to start their new and promising NBA careers. As a result of an additional two-guard during the awkward 2011-2012 lockout season in which they only played 66 games and finished with an uncomfortable 23-43 record, Monta Ellis, the team’s most beloved and popular player, was sent off to Milwaukee for a seven-footer named  Andrew Bogut.

This move proved to be a heartbreaker for the Bay Area community, and quickly helped grow hate for the organization.

The summer following the lockout season, Golden State silently made extremely important add ons and acquisitions to the team in strong efforts to kick the franchise back on track. Andre Iguodala, former NBA All-Star, and Shaun Livingston, a tall factor who played guard, were both signed on to the team from free agency. Aside from the agency, the draft for the Warriors that summer was successful as well.

Golden State acquired two first round picks in Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, two aggressive, young leaders, eager for anything to come. These great moves helped show everyone that what the Warriors had formed on paper would leave them up for contenders to make a serious run at an NBA championship the following season.

The question was, would there be chemistry? The question remained unanswered the next season, as the young and new squad that was slowly meshing together demonstrated an average amount of chemistry, but also saw a star on the rise-Stephen Curry. In fact, Curry signed a four-year contract extension to stay with the team, and helped his team finish that season (2012-2013) with a winning record of 47-35, along with a short playoff run.

The same year they had also drafted another first round pick in Harrison Barnes.  Although the team underperformed compared to their expectations, their loyal fanbase had finally seen a winning season record, and it left them hungry for more the next year.

Throughout the next season, the team had grown with each other and formed an astounding chemistry and ability, and it showed. As each game passed, the team showed progress, and ended up with an intimidating 51-31 record, yet only to finish the season (2013-2014) with a short playoff run, again. The squad had shown so much positives that this time the Warrior community was frustrated with the outcome of the playoffs, as the team had failed to shine when it mattered the most, again.

Throughout that year’s off season, the Warriors staff had serious talks and they concluded in firing head coach Jackson. A coach  many thought may have been the franchise’s savior had been let go. The Bay Area community let out yet another groan of anxiety, as it had seemed like the hurdles would never stop.

Eight days following  Jackson’s firing, the Warriors hired Steve Kerr to the head coach job with a five year contract agreement. Kerr was also a former NBA player with a lot of experience. A  five-time NBA champion, he played with the Spurs and also played with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Someone with experience in tense times and long runs, someone with the right mindset–would this finally be the one?

While the Bay Area community were still recuperating from Jackson’s firing, Kerr hit the ground running, starting out  the (2014-2015) season hot with a 37-8 record. Talk about making a good impression. As the season went on, the team meshed together heavenly-like, making it difficult for viewers to observe their imperfections.

Stars were born, but the NBA team wasn’t  yet known for having Stephen Curry, the leading scorer in the league that had blown up over the summers and had arguably become the top MVP contender, but were better known for all the players on the court and on the bench.

Both the bench and starters would step up whenever they needed to, something a lot of NBA teams can’t say. The team bulldozed through the 14-15 season, winning 67 games out of 81, with the number one seed going into the NBA playoffs.

As the team swept the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs and displayed brilliant chemistry and flow, they rushed through the second and third round, moving on to the NBA finals for the first time since 1975.

In the NBA finals, they beat the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers and were crowned NBA Champions. Throughout the playoffs, the whole roster showed resilient numbers while at the same time showing the chemistry that the general staff had in mind when they put the championship team together in the past years. Through the fan’s anxious mindsets in the past, the staff pulled through and believed in the players that they had acquired through the draft, free agency, or trade. The success that they earned showed proof that the staff had control over the organization and that they didn’t have to go with the popularity-based path that the majority of fans favored.

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