For the first time in recent (and distant) memory, a free agent actually wanted to come play for the Warriors and lose money in doing so. Andre Iguodala’s decision to come to the Bay Area is more than just a skilled athlete deciding to come play for an above-average basketball team. Rather, it’s a sign of a new culture that’s quickly engulfed the Warriors’ Nation, a culture predominantly unexplored by this once great franchise: a culture of winning.
I remember the “We Believe” team and the excitement they brought. I remember the standards of winning that suddenly arose with the names of Captain Jack, Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, and company. I remember my feelings when entering Oracle Arena during that 2006-2007 season, finally expecting the team to not get blown out and embarrassed. I remember the utter upending of the so-called “invincible” Mavericks and the energy that both fueled and resulted from that series that shocked the NBA from head to toe. After that team quickly disintegrated, that energy and those feelings of winning disappeared as well. The franchise seemed doomed, especially at the hands of the all-powerful (powerfully detrimental) Chris Cohan.
After many muddled years of rebuilding, cleaning out, and rebuilding again, the Dubs finally began to put the pieces together. After drafting Curry, Thompson, and Barnes, and trading away Ellis in a very controversial move, the team finally had a balanced roster with firepower and consistency, two essential characteristics for a developing team aiming for the playoffs. The losses of Chris Cohan and Don Nelson, and the additions of Joe Lacob, Peter Guber, and Mark Jackson were also major pieces to the puzzle.
After a surprisingly successful season this past year, the Dubs have suddenly established themselves as a go-to destination for players everywhere, as demonstrated by Iggy’s decision to leave Denver, turn down millions and years more from multiple teams, and to come play for the very team that eliminated him a couple months earlier. Although the team came up short in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes (thankfully), their simple presence in the process of obtaining a player with such a high caliber really sets a change in course from the minutely aggressive front office (kudos to the new management). Now, with a stud of lineup featuring youngsters such as Curry, Thompson, and Barnes, veterans Lee, Iguodala, and Bogut, and reserves Green, Speights, Douglas, and O’neal, this team looks built to compete. Hopefully this time the energy, the spirit, and the winning atmosphere will last.