Warriors in NBA Finals is unfamiliar



Mike Miller of the Cleveland Cavaliers vies for the ball with Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the best of 7 series in the 2015 NBA Finals on June 7, 2015 in Oakland, California.

Erik Khan,

Take a moment and say this aloud: The Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Finals. Has a nice ring to it, right? It seems to just roll off of the tongue. While it sounds pleasant when those words reach your ear, any true Warriors fan can admit that something about this whole situation is just flat-out kinda weird.

As a 22-year-old college student, my memories of the Warriors are dominated by constant finishes below .500 resulting in a late lottery selection. They never seemed to land a “difference maker” when using these selections, instead winding up with players like Patrick O’Bryant, Ike Diogu and Andris Biedrins.

Warriors teams led by these players were laughable at best. Sure, there was the 2007 run led by Baron Davis and Monta Ellis, where Golden State snuck into the playoffs as an eight seed and knocked off the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Davis’ dunk on Andris Kirilenko during that series playoff run was any Warrior fan’s favorite moment for years.

What is even weirder than the Warriors being in the NBA finals may be the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are their opponents.

— Erik Khan

Besides those events, being a Warriors fan in my lifetime has flat-out just sucked. The Warriors have been embarrassed by their players repeatedly, highlighted by fan favorite Monta Ellis injuring himself in a moped accident, resulting in a 30-game suspension. While the fans showed during the 2007 playoff run that they craved a team to root for, in which they would stand behind firmly, they were rewarded with mediocrity. Watching other team fan bases quietly support their teams during repeated trips to the conference finals enraged Golden State fans. [Cough, cough, Spurs fans.]

Then, Warriors executives used the seventh selection in the 2009 NBA Draft on Davidson point guard Stephen Curry. Finally, teams drafting ahead of Golden State flopped and a savior fell into their lap in the form of a three-point shooting messiah.

Curry didn’t instantly catapult this team where they are today, playing with the NBA title on the line. He did, however, give the team a piece to build around. In the following years under new ownership, the Warriors used draft selections on Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Golden State traded the moped riding Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Center Andrew Bogut. Those players make up the starting lineup that has the Warriors on the verge of their first title in 40 years.

The event that really changed the way Warriors fans viewed their franchise was the 2013 signing of Andre Iguodala. Golden State had never been able to sway a free agent to Oakland, and doing so gave fans the confidence that ownership was slowly but surely building a contender.

What is even weirder than the Warriors being in the NBA finals may be the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are their opponents. Owners of the first pick in three of the past four NBA drafts, the Cavaliers have reached the NBA Finals by constructing their roster in a drastically different way than the Warriors.

Last off-season, the Cleveland Cavaliers got their own savior back when LeBron James announced he was “coming home,” and agreed to a contract to return to the team that drafted the best basketball player in the world in 2003. He cited the need to bring Cleveland a championship as the primary reason for his return, envisioning himself and 2010 first-round pick Kyrie Irving as the pieces to do so.

The Cavaliers then traded Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, the first selection in both the 2013 and 2014 draft respectively, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for power forward Kevin Love. They also made mid season trades to acquire Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov.

The Warriors could never do what the Cavaliers have done this season, making trades to construct a championship caliber roster. Oakland has just never been that enticing place to play. Instead, they had to build their roster through the draft, and have done so wisely. Curry, Thompson and Green are all franchise players that, if the Warriors are able to keep under contract, should have the Golden State in the title picture for years to come. That is weird.