Steph Curry Savors Warriors' Wild Ride While Reflecting on the Ugly Years

OAKLAND -- Shortly before tipoff against the Knicks, I ran into a longtime Warriors fan in a hallway. He stopped me to chat. He couldn't hide his joy, which came with a dollop of disbelief.

"Four All-Stars! Again! Can you believe it?" he said. "I remember when we used to pray to get one."

Stephen Curry also remembers those days.

No one currently employed by the Warriors can better appreciate the franchise's swift transformation than Curry, who has spent nearly nine years in the best seat on an elevator that has ascended from the basement to the championship suite.

A lottery pick in the 2009 draft, Curry's rookie season under coach Don Nelson featured losing streaks of nine, seven and six games. The Warriors finished 26-56.

And, for the 13th consecutive season, they had no one worthy of representing them in the NBA All-Star Game. Another three seasons would pass before David Lee, in 2013, snapped a streak that spanned nearly a generation.

The Warriors this season, like last season, will send four All-Stars to the Feb. 18 game in Los Angeles. Kevin Durant and Curry were voted in last week as starters, and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were added Tuesday afternoon.

No team in NBA history has sent four players to the All-Star Game in successive seasons. Add this to the growing list of league accomplishments only the Warriors have achieved, and in less than four years.

"It's crazy," Curry said late Tuesday night, after the Warriors scratched out a 123-112 win over the Knicks at Oracle Arena.

Curry recalled the visions at the team facility upon his arrival in Oakland. High on the walls on the perimeter of the three full practice courts were, among other mementos, the posterized names of those who had gone to the All-Star Game in a Warriors jersey. Wilt Chamberlain. Rick Barry. Nate Thurmond. Cazzie Russell. Bernard King. Many more, all in the distant past, long before Curry was a twinkle in his mother's eye.

"In 1998, Latrell Sprewell," Curry said, "and then there's huge gap until David Lee in 2013.

"From 1998 until D-Lee was an All-Star, we started celebrating 3-Point Contest participants, Jason Richardson's Slam-Dunk Championships. That was on the wall, too. We just wanted a little bit of representation on All-Star weekend, any way we could get it."

The lean years were many, with losses coming down upon the Warriors and their fans like an avalanche of ineptitude.

The Warriors in Curry's second season, with new ownership coming in and former Nelson assistant Keith Smart operating on a trial basis, improved to 36-46. Smart was dismissed, replaced by Mark Jackson.

The first year under Jackson, 2011-12, the Warriors lost 43 games. They played only 66, due to a lockout that delayed the season until Christmas Day 2011.

The following season, as they were en route to a 47-35 record -- and their second playoff appearance in 19 seasons -- the Warriors finally were considered worthy of an All-Star.

When Lee's named was called as a reserve it seemed like a landmark moment. Moreover, given the recent history, it also felt like one.

None of Curry's current group could fathom such a sorry thought. Thompson has known only one season, his first, without an All-Star teammate. Green has known only playoff seasons and at least one All-Star teammate. The others either migrated here or were drafted in recent seasons and have known only playoff runs and All-Star games.

Veterans David West and Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia and Durant came to the Warriors during the boom times, as did JaVale McGee and Nick Young and Omri Casspi. Kevon Looney, Pat McCaw and Jordan Bell were drafted to a team with multiple All-Stars.

And there's Curry, with a completely different perspective. He not only witnessed the transformation but also led the revolution behind it. Co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber made big promises, but even they could not have known the team they bought in November 2010 would set such a fantastic record.

"To be in a position where we're making history with four guys, two years in a row, it's unbelievable to think of what that means in the history of the league and what this team is about," Curry said. "And for us four to be able to represent all the different guys that's we've played with and won championships with and done great things, that's what it's all about.

"We're going to ride the wave as long as we can and appreciate the opportunity to represent our teammates in LA this year."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us