On Sunday, I wrote about the Warriors and LeBron going 1 v. 5 in my post at Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. As a long suffering Warriors fan (yes, I don’t get to play; I just get to experience the team emotionally), I can remember all the years of frustration before and after 1975, that magical year when the Warriors changed basketball.
The Dubs swept the Washington Bullets four games to none behind a crackerjack scorer and underhand free-throw champ, Rick Barry. And they had a starting center, Clifford Ray, just 6-foot-9.
The team was led by Coach Al Attles, who was seen as a revolutionary for USING HIS BENCH.
Imagine that. In those days, a sixth man was often the only replacement of any starters. The rest? They were just ball boys. The rotation rarely went above the top 6.
Attles changed things with a deep bench that others couldn’t match.
The Bullets had the starting stars. Guard Phil Chenier. Center Wes Unself. Forward Elvin Hayes. Bonafide stars.
But the Warriors out-teamed them and won by a single point 96-95 on May 25, 1975 for the unimaginable four game sweep.
I was fortunate to cover the Warriors when they visited the Boston Garden earlier that year, when I interviewed Barry and announcer Bill King at courtside.
When the team won later that season, I was just a fan. And reconnected to my junior high school days when I would go see Wilt Chamberlin and Nate Thurmond at my favorite venue, the very intimate SF Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Auditorium).
Yes, they played basketball there.
In 1975, I had my own victory parade in Cambridge, Mass. for the Warriors. Most people thought I was crazy. But I knew I had to make it last.
Forty years later, back on June 4, I predicted this again. And again the Warriors were playing ball in a new way. It was a game-changing style like Attles’ approach 40 years ago. Only quicker, faster, smaller. Beyond the deep bench, the Warriors chopped the big men down to size. Harrison Barnes was often the tallest small at 6-8. Iguodala, the Finals MVP, is 6-6. Stephen Curry, the regular season MVP, is just 6-3. Draymond Green, 6-foot-7.
Not a seven-footer in sight.
Nor a seventh game.
Just a championship parade.