Saturday, November 21, 2009

Slap Hitter: They Might be Warriors

By Kibby Kleiman
Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 7:00 PM

For sure, you can't write anything about the Golden State Warriors without using the words dysfunctional, wretched or cursed. And yet, the perpetually downtrodden hoopsters have been, of late, displaying a whole lot of heart and some adequate basketball too.

Last night the Warriors ripped the Portland Trailblazers, a team twice as good as they are by reputation and by record. This following a week where the Golden Ones took the Cleveland and Boston teams far deeper than those playoff squads had any reason to expect. After the local press dubbed the Warriors, Team Turmoil, and then moved on, the home boys have been performing way better than their press clippings, or the Clippers.

A week and change after trading traitorous team captain Steven Jackson to Siberia (Charlotte) the now significantly undermanned Warriors took it to the LeBron James and the Cavaliers with only a skeleton crew. With only seven healthy bodies, and only three or four of those NBA caliber, the newest Warrior, Raja Bell scheduled for surgery before basketball, peeled off his suit, and wore a Warrior uniform for the Boston game, playing 23 minutes and contributing 11 points. Nobody expected Bell to risk further injury, and his willingness to play anyway gives me goosebumps just typing it. Bell shrugged off the startled scribes by saying that he just wanted to help the team, seeing how hard they were playing.

How hard the Warriors were playing.

Having signed a guy, Chris Hunter for his first ever NBA game, who coach Don Nelson said he had never even seen play, before last night, the Warriors played Portland in a fashion older than old school. Monta Ellis, regularly apostrophed as "disgruntled", played every single one of the 48 minutes, contributing 30-some points, half a dozen steals, rebounds and assists. Teammate Anthony Morrow played all 48 as well. Rookie Stephen Curry played the first 46, being removed only by fouling out, otherwise I expect he'd still be dribbling. With no understudies anywhere in the building, the Warriors manned up. When fans huff about how 'back in the day' pitchers threw complete games, and football players 'never took a down off', here's the present whipping the past. Could Bob Cousy or George Mikan have run the entire game with no substitutions? And if they had, could they have won by a dozen while doing it?

There will be many more sour headlines than sweet ones for Golden State in the months ahead. Players will demand to be traded, hoop heads will demand coach Nelson's head, and if the media deigns to talk about Golden State, it will be to mock them. But let's give the guys a moment. They gave us a week.


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