COMMENTARY| When the dust settles on the NBA postseason and the front offices and fan bases of thirty teams take stock of the year that was, twenty-nine of them will be failures. Only one team will hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy; twenty-nine will not. That is the simple truth. Within those teams that fail, however, there is an enormous disparity in what their failure means. For the Golden State Warriors, this year's failure felt like a small taste of success.
A franchise mired in twenty years of losing and ineptitude, the Warriors were picked to finish among the worst in the Western conference. Instead, they fought their way to the sixth seed and the organization's first postseason appearance since 2006-07. But the team didn't stop at just making a cameo in the playoffs; Golden State persevered in a tightly contested and physical first round series against the heavily favored Denver Nuggets, even after losing All-Star power forward David Lee to injury in the first game of the series.
When Golden State traveled to San Antonio to kick off their second round matchup with the Spurs, they were again massive underdogs. For all but approximately five minutes of basketball, they outclassed and outworked the Spurs in Games 1 and 2. They left San Antonio with a split, but with one more made shot or one less turnover in the final minutes of regulation in Game 1, they could have had a commanding 2-0 advantage. No one knows how the series would have progressed if they had fought off their inexperience and the Spurs frenzied push, and no one ever will. Ultimately, the Spurs proved too much for the young Warriors and the series ended in Game 6 in Oakland.
In the final moments of the already decided season ending loss, fans in Oracle Arena rose up a loud "Warriors" chant. The fans were undoubtedly disappointed to see their team defeated, but decided to honor the failure anyway. This group captivated the Bay Area and earned the respect of the league.
This failure meant the Warriors are no longer an afterthought. Next season, this team will not be projected to finish with a lottery pick. They may not have won the last game of the season, but they took a huge step forward and put forth an effort that the players and fans can be proud of. It should only be a small comfort, though. It's time for the fans and the organization to keep a straight face when they say the end goal is an NBA title.
Nathaniel Pulliam is an avid San Francisco Bay Area sports fan, and has been following the Golden State Warriors for 16 (mostly brutal) years.
- Sports & Recreation
- Golden State Warriors