Cohan’s Gone With The Wind

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This summer we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Golden State Warriors’ last NBA Championship. Why has it been so long? Poor general managers—I’m looking at you Larry Riley—and wasted draft picks. The Warriors drafted both Vince Carter and former great Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, but neither played a game for Oakland. They did keep Patrick O’Bryant, who has scored 171 total points in his four year NBA career.

Ownership, coaching, and salary dumping trades have been drains on success in recent years. You can tell former owner Chris Cohan disliked spending when signing Deveon George was a big deal. After Baron Davis was stonewalled on his contract extension, and eventually left, I vowed to sever ties to the Warriors and to support a new team, if they let one more star get away.

Basketball is my favorite sport, and the Warriors ousting the Dallas Mavericks, the first eight-seed to defeat the one-seed, through Davis’ posterizing dunk of Andres Kirilenko in the second round, was the most exciting sports period of my life. But with the constant fourth-quarter collapses and front-office ineptitude, I couldn’t stomach the idea of losing another special talent.

To me, Anthony Randolph was that star. Even in the brief minutes Randolph was allotted each game, only 18 per-game his rookie year, greatness was evident. He compares best to Seattle Sonics’ great Shawn Kemp, both quick, super-athletic power forwards who can handle the ball and have a nose for blocks. He plays raw and out of control, but it is clear the game comes to him naturally. Examining their numbers side-by-side on a per-36 minutes average they are very similar. Randolph averages 16.9 points per-game, 11.1 rebounds per-game, and 2.4 blocks per-game, while Kemp’s numbers over his first two seasons are 17.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg, and 2.1 blkspg.

When we traded him away to the Knicks, for injury ridden David Lee, New York seemed like the obvious heir to my basketball allegiance. But then something happened, that gave the Warriors one more chance to keep me on their side. Joseph Lacob and Peter Gruber bought the team from owner Chris Cohan. This was great news and what every fan wanted, but Lacob and Gruber still have to prove they are committed to winning. To keep me as a fan I feel head coach Don Nelson must be fired.

Despite his so called “brilliance,” the Warriors have had one playoff berth in the last 17 years. Nelson is 422-443; a 48.7 win percentage over 11 seasons and two separate stints as Warriors head coach (1988-1995, 2006-present).

A Don Nelson-coached team has never, and will never, win a championship because he preaches no defense. He believes they should simply outscore everyone, and last year they averaged the second most points per-game at 108.8, but also gave up the most at 112.4. Unfortunately for Nelson and all Warrior fans, of the last 10 NBA champions, eight ranked in the top 10 in defense.

The old saying is true: defense wins championships. If Lacob and Gruber want to prove that winning is more important than money, they will swallow the $6 million they owe Nelson on his contract and bring in someone who can give the great sports fans of the Bay Area what they deserve: a championship.

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