Sunday, May 19, 2013

Golden State Gained New Fans With Playoff Run

For those like myself who are longtime fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2012-13 season was far from something we will want to remember.

Between injuries, lack of cohesion, and a coach who may or may not have been the best fit for this team, the season crashed and burned in a four-game sweep at the hands of San Antonio in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Enter the Golden State Warriors.

Not only were the Warriors (1975 World Champions) the only California team left when the other Los Angeles team (Clippers) was ushered out in six games by the Memphis Grizzlies, they were also the most exciting of teams to watch.

Warrior Bandwagon Took on New Members

So it only seemed fitting that myself and many others buy a ticket, allowing us to jump on the Golden State (47-35, WC sixth seed) bandwagon these last couple of weeks.

Yes, many of us do not like to admit we ride bandwagons from time to time in professional or collegiate sports, but it is a reality for millions of diehard sports fans. Throw in the fact that former Warrior Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry was one of my favorite players growing up, it seemed easy enough to ride the Warriors as far as they would go.

That ride would come to an end Thursday evening (May 16), as those same Spurs ushered out the Warriors in six hard-fought games. While the better team won the series, there was no denying that the team proving most fun to watch was now eliminated.

Whether you are a diehard or a casual NBA fan, you have to show some love and appreciation for the likes of guard Steph Curry. The son of former NBA player Dell Curry, the younger Curry may have the purest shot in today’s game. As a Sports Illustrated cover story of May 13 noted, “Give Steph Curry An Inch And He Might Take Golden State A Mile.”

As NBA fans know now, the Warriors are home for the rest of the playoffs, likely booking early tee times at their favorite golf courses.

Though they are farther along than most NBA experts would have said they’d be at the start of the season, there is still some fine-tuning to do to this lovable cast of characters before they can challenge for Western Conference supremacy.

When the handshakes had been completed, when the Spurs and Warriors for that matter had exited the court in Oakland Thursday evening, the hometown fans did not want to say goodbye to their team just yet.

‘We Are Warriors’

In a surprising (and refreshing) show of appreciation to the many in yellow “We Are Warriors” shirts who were by their side from start to finish, the Warrior players came back out to the court and thanked the fans. How often do you see that in today’s world of professional sports?

The fans had reasons to thank their players, especially those like Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut, all of whom battled various injuries just to suit up night in and out during the postseason. Throw in youngster Harrison Barnes (received six stitches to the head during a nasty first half fall in Game 6), and you had a cast of wounded Warriors who gave it all they had.

Lastly, raise your hand if you thought second-year head coach Mark Jackson would take his team within two wins of the Western Conference Finals.

While many people thought Jackson would be a decent NBA coach, not many could have predicted the way he got every ounce of effort out of his team, especially in the playoffs. It was not hard to see in defeat just how proud Jackson was of his team, not to mention the love and respect many of his players have for him.

Although the Golden State ride is over, the Warriors served notice to both the Lakers and Clippers that California is big enough for three Western Conference contenders on a regular basis.

For those fans like myself that had the chance to watch this exciting brand of Bay Area basketball over the last couple of weeks, it was more than a pleasure.

It was a ride that won’t soon be forgotten.

About the Author: With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers a variety of sports and business topics for different sites, including Reputation.com.

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