Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A fan base that deserves so much more

So tonight I fired up NBA TV after a late workout, as part of my Emerging Sanity Boycott of the World Wide Lemur. The Association's channel gave me the Golden State Warriors at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, and one more look into a franchise that might abuse a fan base more than any other.

Here's what happened in this game: the Warriors led from 2-0 into the wee minutes of the game. They held a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. And then they pissed it all away with 9 turnovers (9!) in the final stanza, with all of those turnovers leading to 16 fast break points for the road team, and a disquieting loss in a season filled with them. This year's Warrior club is, like so many, driven by high usage guards. Tonight's goat was Monta Ellis, who fired up a corner three against Marc Gasol, rather than find a number of open shooters at the arc, but you could also lay it on Stephen Curry, who can't talk about rust when your decision making in the fourth is this poor. Memphis shot 37% from the floor in the first half. They don't have Zach Randolph, aka their best player. They didn't play worth a damn for about 40 minutes tonight. And they won anyway, because that's just what happens when you play the Warriors.

But that's really not the thing to note about this game. Rather, I'd like to speak about Warrior Fan, who might be the best fan base in the Association that has gotten the very least for their money. With seconds left to go and the Warriors needing miracles after a disaster quarter, they were still there, hissing the Grizz, riding the refs, praying for misses. On a Monday night, against a team with no cachet.

Year after year, they show up and fill the stadium. Year after year, they buy into the high draft pick, the new coach, the hope that this could be the year that they finally learn how to finish, or have a bench, or stay healthy. Year after year and game after game, they show up and give their team volume, energy and heart. And year after year, they get hosed.

You can keep Celtic Fan, who deserted the team in the bad '90s when the team was Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker seeing who could be more selfish. Laker Fan is seemingly ready to toss his tickets over for the new look Clippers. Detroit Basketball used to be fierce, but isn't anymore. Philly has never been a pro hoop town. Indiana and Sacramento used to be incredibly tough places to play, but not so much any more. There are only two fan bases, really, that come whether the team is good or bad, and mark out for pro hoop more than any other game. That's New York and Oakland. And maybe that's why the ownership has been so bad, since it's not as if they have to put a good product on the court to get paid.

Anyway... the ownership is new. They've got legitimate injury woes, seemingly all on the guys with size. Even good new coaches -- and no, I'm not giving that status to Cookie Monster Marc Jackson yet -- can struggle for a year or two, until their defensive concepts and rotations take hold. If Curry can somehow shake the injury bug, and if Ellis can ever get to the point of making his teammates better rather than just get theirs, maybe there's hope. Heaven knows that the fan base believes. And I'd really like to see them rewarded for it.

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