As the Warriors season comes to a lackluster and inglorious end we are reminded of the hope and big change that have yet to come. The silhouette of a large brooding blue and gold figure (who coincidentally resembled Dwight Howard), greeted passengers off of the continuously congested 880 freeway outside of Oracle Arena. A siren call beckoning as a shining beacon that would divorce us from the mediocrity and exercise in futility that has plagued the Golden State nation. Executives spoke of the playoffs as little girls speak of unicorns or Democrats speak of bipartisanship. A beautiful dream that has not only evaded Bay Area basketball fans but most years puts its boot to their throats and squeezes them into unconsciousness and delirium.
Now the NBA playoffs will cast its deep, dark, ominous shadow over Oracle Arena. And Warrior fans are forced to swallow that bitter pill whose side effects will linger far beyond the constraints of this abbreviated season. Finding ourselves in that precarious, and all too familiar position of having more questions than answers. But the questions could be worse.
While the Warriors did lose the dazzling, spinning, stat stuffing, spectacle that was Monta Ellis, and the raw, rebounding, and shot blocking machine that was Ekpe Udoh, they were gifted with Andrew Bogut, their first legitimate post presence in two decades. And while everyone in the organization waits with bated breath to see if he can fully recover from his pending ankle surgery. The prospects of having a big man, ailing or not, is better than having no prospects at all. Followers of the league understand that the traditional low post players of the past such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few. Are simply that. A thing of the past. A relic of a tougher, meaner, nastier NBA in which catching an elbow to the head was somewhat of a nightly ritual depending on what team you happened to be playing. And your attacker was punished with nothing more than a technical foul and a seat on the bench. Until his coach deemed it necessary to allow him another chance to decapitate you. But I digress.
This is a new time with a new big man. The big man that roams the perimeter with his smaller compatriots seeking fame and glory through thirty foot jumpers. The time of Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki has not only arrived but has marked its territory and erected a Starbucks. Which is why finding a large human being willing to spend most of his time around the basket has become a rare commodity rivaled only by habitable planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And even those are being discovered at a faster rate than NBA scouts can find a prospect with a halfway decent post move.
So the Warriors believe that they have found their diamond and they have hitched their wagon to his star. Andrew Bogut has become a 7 foot tall, 260 pound symbol of everything the organization has lacked and everything it is looking to be. They believe his size, toughness, and leadership is just what the doctor ordered. Even if the doctor has his hands tied trying to make sure both he and Stephen Curry are on the court for an extended period of time next season.
They have surrounded Andrew with a bevy of young talent. Charles Jenkins, Brandon Rush, Klay Thompson, and Jeremy Tyler finished the year strong and look to play a pivotal and prominent role next season. Add David Lee and a healthy Curry and you have something resembling a promising roster. And four picks in this years upcoming NBA Draft doesn’t hurt the situation either. Depending on where the ping pong balls land and where San Antonio finishes in the playoffs, Warrior fans will be privy to a sensation not felt since the “We Believe” craze of 2007. Maybe the big change has not come. Maybe it is already here. And the big change did not come on a flight from Orlando. It came on a runaway locomotive from Milwaukee. It turns out that large brooding blue and gold figure lurking next to the 880 freeway wasn’t Dwight Howard after all. But after watching the soap opera unfold with the Orlando Magic throughout the year… Maybe it was for the best.