Open Letter to Stephen Curry and the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors


Actually, scratch that. This letter is to the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry. As all of his teammates have done all season long, Curry always puts the team first.

Jun 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward

Harrison Barnes

(40) dunks the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers guard

Mike Miller

(18) and center

Timofey Mozgov

(20) during the fourth quarter in game five of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As a youngster, going to a Warrior game was a lot of fun. I was able to run up and down the aisles and sometimes would have an entire section to myself. The clapping of a fan across the court could be heard on some nights from the nosebleeds. It was common for us to end up sitting somewhere near the Warriors’ bench by the third quarter. Some of the current fans wouldn’t believe that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, as Oracle Arena was formerly known, would look like a ghost town. But it did.

My dad had gotten to see a championship in 1975. I was born the following year. After a while I had the feeling that my birth was the reason why they couldn’t make it over the hump. Even the team in 1976 should have won it, but lost in the Conference Finals.

The Warriors have had some really good players over the years. They just didn’t have the best teams collectively. Quality players like Purvis ShortBernard King, Larry Smith, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, Terry Teagle, Chris Mullin, Ralph Sampson, Mitch Richmond, Manute Bol, Tim Hardaway and Sarunas Marciulionis were part of my early childhood. Those were the players who taught me to love the game.

After Hardaway was traded, which devastated me, I understood that there was a business side as well. But I continued to follow when they had Tyrone Hill, Latrell Sprewell, Chris Webber, Rony Seikaly, B.J. Armstrong, Jerome Kersey, Joe Smith, Mark Price, Muggsy Bogues, Adonal Foyle, Antawn Jamison, Terry Cummings, Gilbert Arenas, Troy Murphy, Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy, Clifford Robinson, Baron Davis, Derek Fisher, Monta Ellis, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright, Jamal Crawford, Corey Maggette, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry and Jermaine O’Neal.

All of the players listed above have two things in common. They played or continue to play basketball at a pretty high level. And they never won an NBA title as a Golden State Warrior.

Which brings me to the 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

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I am thankful that the team I have followed since birth has won a championship. But I am more thankful that a group of individuals were able to find the chemistry needed to make it work.

The ownership group, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, is to be commended for their focus on building a model franchise in the NBA. Bob Myers, Steve Kerr and his staff, as well as the entire Warriors’ operation have made this an entire team effort.

First and foremost, there’s Myers and the draft. Four out of the five starters (Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green) were drafted by the Warriors. Even Festus Ezeli has become a reliable piece to this puzzle. It is very rare for a team to stick together long enough and for the organization to have the patience for that to happen.

And the chemistry doesn’t just end there. Sometimes it takes a really tough decision to put a team over the top. Sending Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Andrew Bogut was that tough decision. The fan-favorite Ellis had just taken over the “throne” from Baron Davis and was supposedly going to help lead the team in a new direction. Ellis was a fantastic scorer who played his heart out every night on the offensive end. He developed as a defender and was as valuable to the Warriors as Allen Iverson was to the Philadelphia 76ers. But as we have come to realize, it takes a TEAM to win a championship. The young Ellis should have been a piece, not a leader.

Then Myers went and brought in Marreese Speights, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa to add versatile depth.

The beauty here is that the Warriors have written a blueprint on how to build a champion. Get a group of unselfish players who have only one goal (to win an NBA Finals series), and develop the chemistry necessary to win it. Remember, there is only one ball on the court. Sometimes you score, sometimes you defer to your teammates. Lebron James played an amazing finals, but he had nobody he trusted to defer to. Sometimes those players don’t trust anybody but themselves, that’s what makes them confident.

Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) and guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrate after game six of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Warriors won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

We have seen players on other teams who have complained about playing time, their salary, or even about being disrespected by the coach or organization. You hear none of that out of the Warriors camp. David Lee is a fantastic player and person and will do well whether he remains with the team or goes elsewhere. The players know how special one another are, and they know they have a great thing going here.

The San Antonio Spurs had a “team first” mentality, and the Warriors have embraced it fully. Thank you Golden State for keeping the focus on team over player. It even helps in raising kids when teaching about teamwork. This is a great team to root for!

Green is the heart of the team, the glue. He inspires and charges up the team. Barnes is the poised one. He keeps calm amid chaos, and the team feeds off of that. Thompson is the “nitro boost” or the shot of espresso. He can put the team on his shoulders and turn a 10-0 run into a 20-0 run in two minutes. Iguodala is the big brother who always beat you in everything you competed in, but you never got mad because you both played as hard as you can, and he deserved it because he was better.

But Wardell Stephen Curry is the most special kind of player there is. He is a superstar that still plays the game like we all did in the backyard. He is both a talented player and excellent student of the game. His demeanor both on and off the court is a guide to how a person in the limelight should carry themselves. His magic acts on the court and respect for the game make it easy to pull for him.

Curry won the MVP this season and, in his acceptance speech, acknowledged each and every one of his teammates for what they have meant to him. While watching, I felt such a closeness to the team because his words were genuine. Thank you Stephen Curry for bringing us into that fraternity.

We all had a feeling it would happen sometime. But was that going to be in our lifetime? Now we know the answer. The Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Champions!

Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; The Golden State Warriors celebrate pose for a picture after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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