To say the least, I am really looking forward to participating in the parade in Oakland today, when the 2014-15 NBA champion Golden State Warriors will get their due. (That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) The party is all about the current group, of course, but management was nice enough to include some team history in the celebration. Forty years is a long time between league titles, but the wait has been worth every minute.
This is a great bunch of players, coaches and staffers who are so deserving of the tribute they will receive from Warriors Nation. Officials expect a huge turnout, and I think that is terrific. This outstanding team has done a lot to change the perception of the franchise.
As I traveled around the country wearing my Warriors gear the last few months, I received positive comments from countless people, not to mention numerous requests for newspaper and magazine and radio interviews. A question that I’ve been asked many times in this ultra-competitive, you-are-only-as-good-as-your-last-win sports culture is, Can the Warriors do it again next year? My wife says it’s kind of like when a woman has a baby and is still in the hospital yet people ask, “When are you having your next one?”
Here is what I believe needs to happen for the Warriors to repeat:
– Keep as much of the nucleus together as possible. Sure, there will be some personnel changes, but the core of the team needs
to remain the same to have the best chance to repeat. I experienced first-hand what can happen when an important member of a championship team is traded. After our 1975 title, the front office dealt point guard Butch Beard, and not having him with us hurt our chances to repeat.
My biggest concern is what will happen with Draymond Green. Without question, he was an integral part of the team’s success, but I do not believe he is worth the maximum-alotted contract. I would not be upset with him for taking one elsewhere, however. There are numerous financial implications involved with almost any financial deal, and that is up to general manager Bob Myers and the owners to resolve.
– Trade David Lee and his $15-plus-million contract. I love David as a person and a player. I also respect how he dealt with being asked to come off the bench and how he contributed during the playoffs. The reality is that both sides would be better off if they parted company. The sheer fact that he is on a one-year contract could help another team with a short-term fix.
– Embrace the challenges that come with being the defending champions. Very few teams have ever managed to win two consecutive NBA titles. Every team will be gunning for them next season and playing their best basketball to try and beat them. For many opponents, a win over the Warriors will be a huge accomplishment. Preparation is often taken a little more seriously knowing that, if you aren’t ready physically and mentally, you can get embarrassed.
– Maintain good health. Unfortunately, some injuries cannot be controlled, but the players can take care of themselves in the offseason and come to training camp in the required condition.
As a postscript, I must comment on the talk that the Warriors’ championship is tainted because their postseason opponents all had key players unavailable. Nonsense, I say.
The Warriors won the title because they played great defense, were prepared for their opponents and featured numerous offensive weapons plus had a coach who was not afraid to make changes, a deep, versatile bench and a fan base that was the best (and loudest) in the league.