The promises are out there, from a chain of command which seems very commanding, from a new head coach who acts very demanding.
This is the season, we are told, when fans of the Warriors, the most persistent, most loyal fans in sports, receive their payback.
Sixteen years out of 17, the Warriors have missed the playoffs, but still the people came, packing Oracle Arena.
“There’s no question we have as good support as any team in the NBA,” said Larry Riley, the general manager.
He can’t say much more until the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players becomes official.
He can’t even say the Warriors sold 130 new season tickets on Monday alone, the day after the Thanksgiving weekend, the time when everyone supposedly is chasing discounts.
This is football country. This is baseball country, as Giants general manager Brian Sabean pointed out correctly.
But the evidence shows the Bay Area is no less basketball country, where memories of that ’75 title linger and optimism — “We Believe” — is infectious.
It all starts at the top, of course, in the military, in business, in basketball, in everything. The top, the front office, at last is top-heavy in shakers, movers and successes. Joe Lacob, a venture capitalist with a master’s degree in public health; Peter Guber, chairman of the Mandalay Entertainment Group; Jerry West, former basketball player and general manager extraordinary; Rick Welts, longtime NBA executive.
“We’re not the cure for cancer,” Guber said when he and Lacob bought the team from Chris Cohan a year ago, “but we might be the cure for Cohan.”
In early June, part of the cure was hiring coach Mark Jackson out of the broadcast booth to which he stepped after leaving the court as a player. No experience coaching? No fear. “The culture here will change,” said Jackson.
Warriors followers may be less concerned with culture than the win-loss record.
In a few days, Dec. 9, if the CBA is approved — and after a lockout that erased nearly two months of the season, it will be approved — change begins on the floor.
Obviously it has been under way everywhere else.
Do the Warriors get involved in what one basketball man said “will be a frenzy” of free-agent signings? Do they maybe at last dispose of their “we can’t live with him, we can’t live without him” big man, Andris Biedrins? Do they reward those fans who through their stubborn presence have rewarded them?
We have been teased. We have been tormented. We have watched while the Los Angeles Lakers came north almost since the beginning of time and repeatedly won down the stretch. We have agonized while the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns crushed yet another dream.
One season in 17 seasons, that scintillating spring of 2007 when Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson led the playoff upset of the Dallas Mavericks, kept the flame burning. If they did it once …
They haven’t done it again, but now after the lockout, after the expressed determination of those in charge — Lacob, Guber and most of all the new man giving the orders, Jackson — the belief is they might.
“It’s a great challenge,” Jackson said when hired. “It’s going to start from Day 1.”
Which finally is almost here.