Stephen Curry, front, carries the Larry O'Brien trophy as he and Andrew Bogut return to Oakland on June 17 after winning the NBA championship against the Cavaliers. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Champions, superheroes … and Jed York

It was a very, very good year for Steph and the boys, and smooth winter nights in the Oracle lights, when the champagne poured sweet and clear.

It was a very bad year in Santa Clara, where the 49ers came undone, four years after Jed York turned 31.

The bests and worsts of the year past …

Best story: Could there be any other? After 40 years without an NBA title, the long wait for the Warriors was o-vah. Stephen Curry and the Dubs weren’t just another championship team, but an epic one that rolled to a 67-15 record in the regular season and set the standard for the modern 3-point era. Then they reeled off a league record 24 consecutive victories to open the next season for good measure.

Biggest winners: Curry and Joe Lacob. Curry emerged as a genuine superhero on the court, and the way he went about it off the court was no less impressive. And two years after he was practically booed out of Oakland, Lacob brokered a move to The City and showed why he was the premier local team owner bar none.

Biggest losers: Dubs doubters and haters. Everyone from Clippers coach Doc Rivers to TNT goofball Charles Barkley called them lucky, overrated and worse. Chuckles is paid to say silly things, but shame on the others. They should have known better.

Best move, player: In a March game in Los Angeles, Curry positively undressed the Clippers’ Chris Paul on an insane crossover dribble that lit up the Twitter sports world like it hadn’t been lit up before.

Best move, coach: Steve Kerr inserted Andre Iguodala into the starting line-up in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were history.

Best first impression(s): In his first season as a head man, Kerr won more games than all but four coaches in league history but wasn’t chosen Coach of the Year. Then Luke Walton was selected Coach of the Month as an interim boss even though Kerr received credit for his 25 consecutive victories. Uh, got that?

Oddest occurrence: After World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the Giants fell short in their latest bid for back-to-back titles in an odd-numbered year. Why, one fan was so pessimistic on Opening Day, he was heard to say, “Wait ’til next year!”

Most painful moment(s): It seemed that everyone except Giants manager Bruce Bochy spent time on the disabled list — Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence and name a pitcher, almost any pitcher. The injury epidemic became so acute that sharp objects were removed from the locker room.

Most creative injury: Pitcher Jeremy Affedlt damaged a ligament in his left knee when he fell off a raft in shallow lake water, which pretty much summed up the Giants’ season in one false step.

Biggest disappointment: Somehow, the Giants were still in contention at the trade deadline. But rather than acquire a front-line pitcher, the fourth-richest team in the major leagues settled for Mike Leake, who spent most of his time on the disabled list, of course. Meanwhile, potential difference-makers Johnny Cueto and David Price were allowed to go elsewhere. Cueto was signed as a free agent after the season, but it was too late for the repeat bid.

Biggest idiot: York. The 49ers’ CEO cut the cord with Jim Harbaugh, his only successful head coach. OK, that was his prerogative. Except that he handed the reins to general manager Trent Baalke and inexperienced head man Jim Tomsula, also known as Incompetent and Overmatched.

Biggest fall guy: Three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, Colin Kaepernick was handed the keys to an ’85 Yugo, and predictably, he finished the season with his head in a fog and his left arm in a sling. Never in recent history had a Bay Area athlete fallen so hard, so fast.

Biggest duh moment: After the retirement of four core players, the onus was on Baalke to hit a home run in the draft and free agent market, a stand-up double at the very least. Then the GM rolled the dice on a pair of projects in the first two rounds followed by a punter and two tight ends in the later ones, which left the Faithful to ask, “What the hell was he thinkin’, anyway?”

Most stunning sight: Ten of thousands of empty seats at 49ers home games. Or a few thousand less than what a last-place team deserved.

Best sign: The one that flew over Levi’s Stadium before another Niners loss in November. “Jed & 49ers should mutually part ways,” it said.

Worst sign: Empty seats at O.co Coliseum for Raiders games in what might have been their final season in the East Bay.

Worst signing: Aldon Smith. The Raiders rolled the dice on the five-time offender even though another suspension was imminent. Now there’s no guarantee that he’ll suit up for the team again.

Worst fake: Raiders owner Mark Davis insisted that he was adamant about a return to Oakland one day, then negotiated with Carson officials the next.

Best swan song: Charles Woodson. The 39-year-young Woodson carried the Raiders’ defense with one healthy arm before he announced his retirement. Only one question remained: Would he become a first-ballot Hall of Famer? (To which Balls says, hell yeah!)

Worst omen: The first time Balls set foot inside an O.co Coliseum washroom, a urinal was out of order. Then the Athletics went into the toilet.

Biggest scrooges: Guaranteed a profit before the first pitch was thrown, Athletics tri-owners Billy Beane, John Fisher and Lew Wolff charged major league prices for a Triple-A product …

Biggest whine: Then A’ management held out a tin cup in yet another bid for a new stadium.

Most overlooked villain: According to Forbes, Fisher’s net worth of $2.3 billion ranked 46th in the country, yet his team had the third-lowest payroll in the bigs last season.

Best gig: After a 68-94 nightmare, the A’s worst in 18 years, Beane promoted himself to baseball operations chief, which helped pay for the reported 6,000 gallons of water that he used at his home each day.

Most sympathetic figures: What did loyal A’s fans do to deserve such a hopeless organization like this one? Kick a reindeer?

Best former A’s made good: Josh Donaldson landed in Toronto, where he became American League Most Valuable Player, while Yoenis Cespedes and Ben Zobrist were traded to New York and Kansas City, respectively, where they played for World Series teams.

Biggest tease: Cal. The football team won its first five games before it went pffffft. Then its 14th-ranked hoops squad went to Las Vegas and fell on hard times, although it might be too early to write off the Bears just yet after a near-miss at No. 5 Virginia.

Biggest flirt: In the midst of contract negotiations with Cal, coach Sonny Dykes interviewed with Missouri before he took his 13-23 career record back to Berkeley, where he leveraged an even bigger pay raise.

Next biggest flirt: For more than a month, Stanford held out hope for a College Football Playoff berth, only to fall a 2-point conversion short in the end.

Best local boys made good: Stanford scatback Christian McCaffrey and Cal quarterback Jared Goff turned the local college football season into one to remember.


Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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