The Warriors own the NBA. Who would have believed?

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — Another championship, and shortly another parade. Old hat, as they say, but not if you know about the old days, when the Warriors not only didn’t have a chance to win a title, they barely had a chance to win a game.

Those haunting years, when half the crowd at the Oracle, or as it used to be called, Oakland Coliseum Arena, seemed to be cheering for the other guys, mainly the Lakers. Before that, the Bulls. Before that, the Celtics.

Those awful seasons, 2000-01, when the Warriors won only 17 games; the others with 19 wins or 21 wins, when you knew Kobe or Shaq — or Derek Fisher, for heaven’s sake — would break a tie and break your heart. Hopeless.

Now the Warriors are in command. The NBA has become their league, pro basketball their game.

It used to belong to Boston or the Lakers. To Bird and Magic. Then to Kobe and Shaq. The power and glory have been grabbed away by Steph and KD and Klay — and others on the team that clearly has become the ruler of the sport.

We know what to expect, Draymond in an opponent’s face, Andre orchestrating, Kevin — and think how fortunate the Dubs are to get him — throwing them in when he isn’t stuffing them down, and the Splash Brothers, Curry and Thompson, hitting from here, there and everywhere.

Nobody equated Northern California with basketball success. The rest of the nation still doubts. It’s like, this must be a mistake. Weren’t the Celtics supposed to surprise? They play in ESPN’s figurative backyard. If a California team is involved, isn’t it going to be the Lakers? 

It isn’t that the A’s, Giants, Raiders and 49ers went unnoticed when they won their championships, but as a man once proclaimed on the radio, “Unless it’s the Lakers, Dodgers or USC football, nobody in the east pays attention.”

Do we, in the state with largest population, with five major league baseball teams, with four NFL teams, with three NBA and three NHL teams, care? Sure we do. But it’s not going to change.

So we’re grateful that the fate of the Warriors changed. Pleased that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber showed proper leadership; pleased that Bob Myers understands how to create a great NBA team and that Steve Kerr and his assistants, particularly Mike Brown, who a year ago became the interim man, know how to coach that team; grateful that a varied, diverse and delightfully likable group of athletes compose that team.

Basketball is game of few secrets. There’s no dugout into which a player can retreat, no helmets under which one can hide. In effect, these guys are running about in their underwear, only a few feet from the nearest spectator. We know every move LeBron made. Or J.R. Smith didn’t make.

You own up to your mistakes and gleefully — but not arrogantly — accept the accolades. Humility is only a game away. Curry sets a record with nine three-pointers, then goes 1-for-11 on 3-pointers. Hey, he has that third title. So does Northern Cal.

Perspective again. Four straight NBA Finals, three of those resulting in trophies. Did anyone believe, when the Warriors had 12 consecutive losing seasons, ’96 through ’08, and 16 of 18, that this could ever happen?

That the Warriors emerged from the agony of being one of the worst to become the very best is a tale that must be told and retold. Warrior fans deserve the chance to smile and cheer as the parade passes by. They filled the seats when it was the other team filling the baskets with jump shots and layups.

Who knows if the Warriors are a dynasty? The Celtics won eight in a row, nine out of 10; the Bulls three in a row twice, six of eight; the Lakers three in a row and numerous times in the finals as losers. So maybe the Warriors need a couple more championships before the “D” word legitimately can be applied.

No matter. They are a tremendous team, king of the hill, top of the heap, where we never thought they’d be.


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