Current Warriors have feel of ’75 champs
High-level sports success in the Bay Area is pretty much booming in the present, while providing a bright light for the future, and leaving the past well in the past.
Of course there’s the San Francisco Giants having recently won, in spectacular come-from-behind fashion, their second MLB National League pennant and World Series championship in the past three years.
The area’s other MLB franchise rallied back from “never-given-a-chance” to “that’s right, we’re the Oakland A’s and we’re the American League West champs.”
The San Francisco 49ers are on course – especially on the heels of their wild, impressive win over the Patriots on a icy cold, wet New England night behind young, energetic and productive quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and a game-changing play by lightning-quick runner Lamichael James – to a second straight deep NFL playoff run and a possible trip to the Super Bowl.
Reaching the top of pro U.S. soccer during the regular season and just falling short of winning the MLS title were the electrifying San Jose Earthquakes and their league MVP and goal-scoring star Chris Wondolowski.
Sorry, Oakland Raiders and the big grid funk you’re in – though beating the lowly Kansas City Chiefs was surely a must-win – which keeps success elusive until the right direction and path are found to follow.
And to the San Jose Sharks, who are starving for more success and another chance to reach the Stanley Cup finals, but, alas, they haven’t even started their long-delayed ice hockey season because of the lockout by the close-minded, selfish and greedy owners who are risking their sports product and might never recover what serious fan following you have, or had.
Now let’s get back to the recent Bay Area sports success, which is so wonderfully epitomized by the Golden State Warriors, who are more than real, they’re, at this moment in time, an “elite team,” and I do mean “team,” in the NBA.
The Warriors may not remain elite, but they’ll continue to be a team that has melded into an exciting, defensive-minded, offensively productive and youthful unit of unselfish, smart and talented players.
They will be in the postseason playoffs, and, here’s where I’ll let my optimism maybe get the best of me, but this Golden State squad reminds me of the 1975 champion Warriors in many ways.
Does this mean I’m predicting that the Bay Area will be the future home of the NBA champions?
No, I’m just talking about similarities between the two Golden State teams separated by 38 years.
But there could be a magical link, and if it doesn’t happen this year, it could in the near future because the culture, thinking and reality of the Warriors franchise made a major shift upward under new ownership – it was the eccentric and supporting owner Franklin Mieuli’s team in 1975 – and sealed it with four exceptional draft picks in the past two years.
About the comparison of the two teams, lets start with the head coaches – Al Attles then, Mark Jackson now – both African-American and former hard-nosed, defensive-minded guards who used, and use, a total-team approach to being successful. They had, and have, dual-centers – though Jackson’s still waiting for Andrew Bogut, who could solidify their run to the NBA’s upper level – and key young players to grow and win with.
While the current Warriors don’t have one of the NBA’s top-50 superstars as the ’75 Warriors did with Rick Barry, they do have a pair of current all-star worthy players in David Lee and Stephen Curry, who have combined for a “Barry impact.”
When it comes to draft picks making an impact, the ’75 Warriors had a great one in former UCLA All-American forward Keith “Silk” Wilkes (later Jamaal Wilkes) and former USF standout, the late Phil “Clutch” Smith.
The current drafted Warriors have future all-stars in last year’s pick Klay Thompson and this year’s Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green.
Another comparison between the two Golden State teams are their strong and productive bench players.
In ’75 it could be Jeff Mullins, Derrek Dickey, Charles Johnson or Butch Beard, all depending on who started the game and who came off the bench.
This year, it’s bench-players-extraordinaire Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack.
I could find more links between the two teams, but I’ll wait until they’re both equal as NBA champions – then it will be the best comparison.