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You could say the Warriors are the victims of the Curse of C-Webb, but curses are so 2004. Besides, screw curses. The Warriors have earned every bit of this rancidity.
It was the spring of 1994 when the W's last made the playoffs -- pre-Lewinsky, pre-iPods, and, appropriately enough, pre-"Titanic." It's the longest playoff drought of any NBA team, but that doesn't tell the half of it. The Warriors not only made the playoffs in 1993, they were building the first floor of a playoff mansion. This 50-win squad was only starting its work, was only beginning its run as the West Coast's team of the '90s. This was going to be the team that challenged Stockton and Malone in Utah, challenged Hakeem in Houston, and made damn sure the ghosts of Rick Barry and Clifford Ray were honored with more than one title in Oakland, more than just that stirring sweep of the Washington Bullets in 1975.
Coach? Only Don Nelson, one of the best in NBA history. Veteran leadership? Only Dream Teamer Chris Mullin. Superstar in the making? Only a young Latrell Sprewell. Rookie of the Year? Only Chris Webber.
|Warriors: Past Five Years|
Last winning season: '93-94
Last playoff season: '93-94
The reason why the Warriors cause so much pain is the Warriors were thisclose to another era of glory.
In the fall of 1994, the Warriors were as hot in the Bay Area as the 49ers. Yes, the Steve Young-Jerry Rice-Deion Sanders 49ers, who would win the Super Bowl months later. But C-Webb decided he didn't like Nellie. He demanded a trade. Nellie obliged him.
End of era of glory.
Beginning of era of shame.
Webber was traded for Tom Gugliotta, who was traded for Donyell Marshall, who was traded for Danny Fortson and well, that's about enough of that.
Everything went to hell after the Webber-Nellie feud. Everything.
GMs made terrible moves. Dave Twardzik became Garry St. Jean became Chris Mullin, who is currently assigned to clean up this fine mess.
|And the nominees are ...|
The Clippers have escaped purgatory. We need a new team to mock. Check out the Page 2 essays on why the following teams may be the new Worst Franchise in Sports.
Draft picks became a vast wasteland. Joe Smith, No. 1 overall in 1995, was not the answer. Neither was Todd Fuller, 11th overall in 1996, two picks ahead of Kobe Bryant, and four picks ahead of Steve Nash. Jeff Foster, Chris Porter no. Hell, Adonal Foyle has to be considered a dynamite first-round pick by the W's skewed standards, considering he's still on the team and still mildly productive.
And the coaches. My goodness, the coaches. Dave Cowens lost 65 games one year, part of a three-year run of 60-plus-loss seasons. Mostly, coaches are trivia questions. Hey, did you know Bob Lanier coached the Warriors in the last 10 years? Did you know Brian Winters did, too?
Since the Warriors last made the playoffs, they spent a depressing year in San Jose, losing 52 while their arena was rebuilt.
Since the Warriors last made the playoffs, Gilbert Arenas came -- and went on to stardom elsewhere. Larry Hughes came -- and went on to stardom elsewhere. Since the Warriors last made the playoffs, Rick Adelman coached them -- and then went on to coaching stardom elsewhere.
And, yes. Since the Warriors last made the playoffs, Sprewell choked P.J. Carlesimo, the most depressing act in the most depressing era for the most depressing team in American sports. It led to "Nightline" episodes and lawsuits and sociological arguments along racial lines. It, plainly, sucked. Just like the Warriors.
Top that, all ye comers for this race for the Worst Franchise in Sports. Top that.
E-mail Brian Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.