Call it The We Believe Season, The Don Nelson Revenge Year, SJax Presents: The Aftermath, The B-Diddy Alien Draft Combine–the 2006-07 Warriors are a lot of things, including a preview of the Death Lineup, the crazy tito version.
Let’s start with that lineup. At point is Baron Davis, who played in the 2007 playoffs with the enthusiasm of someone who had just been given the car keys by his dad, and was told to “go have fun, but bring the car home without a scratch.”
Davis played reckless, which a decade ago meant pulling up for off-the-dribble 3s early in the shot clock, but steady; fearless but poised. He shared the backcourt with Jason Richardson, who at that time still had springs for legs. A young Monta Ellis chipped in with instant offense off the bench.
The frontcourt is where it got interesting for these Warriors. Without a true PF in the Carlos Boozer- or Amare Stoudemire-sense (again, this was 2006-2007), Don Nelson let Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington loose. They were greenlit to jack up 3s on offense and gang up on defense.
If the Death Lineup of today’s Warriors moved with the efficiency of a ninja, the Warrior Five of Davis, Richardson, Barnes, Harrington, and Jackson was a drive-by.
The team also had legit, and by “legit” we mean “tall,” big men in Andris Biedrins and Adonal Foyle, but the two saw limited minutes because these Warriors we’re about playing entertaining basketball and, though effective, there’s nothing entertaining about Biedrin’s left-handed hook shot.
Then there’s the Don Nelson vs Avery Johnson-Mark Cuban angle in the first round of the playoffs. Nelson’s passion project that clinched the playoffs on the last day of the season vs the Dallas Mavericks, the team with the season-best record. Nelson, the ex-Maverick coach and maverick employee, taking on the guy who replaced him and The Boss. Nelson was Empire Records‘ drumstick-wielding, long-haired Joe and Cuban was the annoying guy in the suit (“Damn the man!”). Nelson was Steve Austin and Cuban was Vince McMahon.
The Stone Cold Stunner inevitably came in Game 6 of the series, when Jackson hit seven three-pointers to send Dallas home, making the Warriors the first team in NBA history to defeat a first seed in a seven-game series.
The victory was so huge and celebrated that the Warriors didn’t bother to show up in the second round–save for an insane dunk highlight courtesy of Davis. But the “Believe” storyline resonates until today (But can they beat the 73-9 Warriors?), and it will always be revered as one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. You know, unlike Borat.
THE ROSTER: Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, Matt Barnes, Kelenna Azubuike, Mickael Pietrus, Adonal Foyle, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Patrick O’Bryant, Josh Powell
Pre-Kobe taunt, pre-Fish beef, Matt Barnes was peak Matt Barnes with the Warriors.
Stephen Jackson was the guy who turned it around for the Warriors when he was traded to the team mid-season. But after his dark Indy days, SJax may have needed the Dubs more.
Jason Richardson proved that he’s more than just a high-flier.
Monta was casted as Jamal Crawford in this team, and he killed it.
Baron Davis needs to come back to the NBA. Not to play, but to call games, coach, dunk on Kirilenko again, host a podcast. Something. Please.