Warriors’ internal strife leads to chaos, collapse
By Monte Poole
BARON DAVIS, the former prince of Oracle Arena, makes his first appearance tonight as a Los Angeles Clipper in the facility where he once raised the Warriors from the dead.
For Warriors fans, the sight of Davis most assuredly will summon memories of the spring of 2007, when their favorite team blasted into the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1994 and, for two brilliant weeks, lit up the landscape.
“It’s definitely like a homecoming,” Davis said last week, anticipating his return to Oakland. “A lot of memories are there, and the adrenaline is going to be circulating. It’ll be good to see a lot of familiar faces in the stands.”
Those familiar faces, the high-spirited “We Believe” fans who enthusiastically support their energetic team, now try to cope with the reality of this woebegone season, which, according to numerous sources in NBA circles, can be traced back to coach Don Nelson, team president Robert Rowell (who operates on behalf of owner Chris Cohan) and decisions based less on building the best possible team than on impulse and ego.
Less than two years after an improbable playoff run led to one of the biggest postseason upsets in NBA history — a first-round series win over No. 1 seed Dallas — and one year after boisterous crowds cheered a 48-win team, the Warriors are back to the outskirts of the league. Officially eliminated from the playoffs Sunday, they are 23-43 and likely to lose more than 50 games for the first time since 2002, when Dave Cowens and Brian Winters presided over a 21-61 oil spill.
How did it come to this?