Yesterday I tuned into a game between the Clippers and Blazers on NBA League Pass after the Fiesta Bowl as Baron Davis was checking back into the game. After he checked in to the game Davis performed a ridiculous spin move around Jerryd Bayless and almost converted on a reverse left-handed layup after being fouled by Dante Cunningham underneath the hoop.
That sequence brought me back three years to the coolest team of the past decade. The small ball, run and gun, all offense, no defense 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors. With Don Nelson coaching the team and giving Baron full reign to play an uptempo style the Warriors snuck into the playoffs as a No. 8 seed. Their reward? Matching up with the Dallas Mavericks who had finished with a 67-15 record and were heavy favorites to capture their first NBA title after coming up short against
Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat the referees in the Finals the year before.
Even though the Warriors had swept the season series against the Mavericks nobody was expecting the Warriors to pull the upset - at least that was the overwhelming sentiment heading into the series, but things took a turn for the unexpected.
In the opening game the Warriors went into Dallas, ran the Mavericks off the court and never looked back. It wasn't just that they won, it was how they did it. That team was quite possibly the most athletic team ever assembled. Their starting five was Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington with Mikael Pietrus, Matt Barnes and Andries Biedrins coming off the bench.
I remember watching every game of that series and being amazed by the Warriors ability to run up and down the floor, creating havoc on defense by swarming Mavericks ball handlers and then converting turnovers into quick fast break layups or pull up three pointers. They hounded Nowitzki all series long and he essentially an afterthought, unable to cope with the athletic bigs that the Warriors used to defend him.
The Warriors would go on to eliminate the Mavericks in six games, demolishing them in Golden State in Game 6 111-86. What made the series even more amazing was seeing and hearing the Golden State crowd during the game. I don't think I've ever heard an NBA arena going that crazy throughout an entire game. It was truly amazing to watch.
My favorite part about the series was the subplot with Nelson coaching against Dallas, the team he had previously helped build into a playoff contender after being effectively forced out by Mark Cuban. You know Nelson really cherished throwing up this six-game birdie to Cuban.
Unfortunately the Warriors would be eliminated by the Jazz in five games in the next round, though not before Baron Davis gave us one last highlight to remember him and that team by. They traded Richardson that summer to the Bobcats in a draft day deal and after missing the playoffs the next year Baron Davis wasn't re-signed. Harrington was traded a year later and Jackson was finally shipped away this year.
While that team was only together for a short time, I'll always remember the misfits and outcasts that made it up. Don Nelson was fired by the Mavericks, Baron Davis traded in a salary dump move by the Hornets and Jackson sent to Golden State for shooting a gun outside a club.
Thank you Golden State for the memories and don't think I'm not watching. I'm still holding out hope that Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright and others will give us an encore performance soon enough.