Inspired by LeBron James’s decision to return to his hometown and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Elitedaily.com’s Joseph Millord constructed a fantasy realm of NBA teams consisting of current players who are locals to their respective cities.
The Golden State Warriors were given their starting five by Millord, and it looks as if the “Hometown Warriors” are running with a small-ball scheme:
- Damian Lillard, PG (Oakland, CA)
- Jeremy Lin, SG (Palo Alto, CA)
- Paul Pierce, SF (Oakland, CA)
- Matt Barnes, PF (Santa Clara, CA)
- Drew Gooden, C (Oakland, CA)
Each player has seen success over the span of his career. In this piece, we want to honor each player for their achievements.
All of the fans who follow Lillard know exactly where he was born and raised. He specifically chose to wear the number 0 to honor his hometown of Oakland; he literally represents where he is from on his chest.
Recently turning 24 years old, Lillard is just barely scratching the surface of his potential. With just two seasons under his belt, he has already built a strong NBA resume consisting of “Rookie of the Year” honors and an All-Star appearance.
During the 2012 NBA Draft, there was speculation about the possibility of Lillard being a part of the Warriors. With the seventh overall pick, Golden State was close to having an opportunity of picking him during the draft. Unfortunately, Lillard was swooped up with the sixth pick by the Portland Trail Blazers. One can only fantasize about what Lillard could have done for this organization.
Lillard has been vocal about his support and love for the Warriors. When the Trail Blazers come to Oracle Arena, the stadium gets flooded with a sea of supporters to the hometown kid. Lillard proudly represents the city of Oakland, and the city of Oakland embraces its new young star.
Arguably the most popular player on this fantasy roster would have to be Lin. “Linsanity” swept the nation during the shortened NBA season of 2011-12. Lin exploded onto the scene with the New York Knicks and inspired many with his ridiculous stretch of five games averaging 25.0 points and 9.3 assists.
In his first two seasons, Lin was quite the journeyman. He bounced in and out of the NBA Development League. He was ultimately cut by both the Warriors and Houston Rockets. Out of sheer desperation for healthy bodies, the Knicks signed Lin as a safety net.
On Feb. 4, 2012, it was expected to be his very last game as a Knick. There was speculation that, after the game, Lin would be waived for the third time that season. His career to a dramatic change into the right direction with a single performance against the New Jersey Nets.
Lin erupted and caught the nation’s attention by scoring 25 points and willed the Knicks into a victory. From that night on, Lin continued to produce ridiculous stat lines and, more importantly, wins. He carried the Knicks back into playoff contention by sparking a seven-game winning streak. The unexpected play by Lin was a feel good story for many fans, and it caught national attention from every media outlet.
Of the five men from the starting lineup, Pierce, A.K.A. the “Truth”, has the most decorated career. He is a 10-time All-Star, second in all-time scoring for the Boston Celtics, an NBA Finals MVP, and, of course, an NBA Champion.
A forgotten story about Pierce is the incident that took place at a nightclub on September 25, 2000. Pierce was assaulted and stabbed when trying to play the peacemaker during a fight at a local club. He was stabbed 11 times in the neck, chest, face, and back. The stabbing punctured his lung and required surgery (via ABCNews).
Any other person who faced an injury of that magnitude would have needed time off to rest and stabilize before going back to work. However, Pierce is not just any other person. The following month after the stabbing, he was back on the team for training camp and played through all 82 games of that season.
An attribute that many people respect about Pierce is his devotion to his team. In his first nine seasons with the Celtics, the team made the playoffs only four times and got swept in one of those times.
Many players of Pierce’s caliber would have voiced their displeasure and desire to play elsewhere. However, Pierce never wanted out of Boston even through the roughest patches. He played through the pains of losing and did his best to contribute to wins.
Pierce’s loyalty to the Celtics eventually paid off when he won his first NBA Championship in 2008. In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals of 2008, he scored 41 points against the Cavaliers to cement their place in the NBA Finals. In Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Pierce produced 17 points and 10 assists in a 131-92 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers and earned the honors of Finals MVP.
Although Barnes plays for the rival Los Angeles Clippers, he has a deep appreciation and respect for the Warrior franchise.
Prior to 2006, Barnes was bouncing in and out of the league. He began his career in the developmental league and didn’t quickly find a steady role. It wasn’t until he signed with Golden State in 2006 before he found some actual playing time.
With his hometown team, Barnes made a huge impact and was a key player in the magical “We Believe” season. During the 2006-07 season, his role for the Warriors was to provide energy of the bench. He assumed the sixth man role and excelled at it by averaging a career-high — at the time — 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
Barnes’s stint with the Warriors did not last long, ending after just two seasons. However, the short-lived time he had with his hometown team is a moment he still cherishes to this day. He claims, “That was more than just the best time, but my first real opportunity to show the league I can really play” (via Lakersblog). His breakout season as the sixth man for the Warriors made him a staple in the association. He has stuck around the league ever since.
Playing for a total of 11 teams, many may assume that Gooden isn’t good enough to solidify himself into a rotation. However, that is not true. Although Gooden has bounced around the league during his 12-year career, he has established himself as a solid player.
Since his rookie season, Gooden has put up respectable numbers by averaging no less than 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game. It wasn’t until he suffered an injury during the 2012 season that he lost his “mojo,” causing his numbers to take a dip.
With 12 seasons on his NBA resume, he still receives interest in free agency. Recently, he signed a one-year contract with the Washington Wizards, teaming him up with Pierce.
Gooden may not be a popular name in the NBA, but he is very well known around the Bay Area for his involvement with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball league. Gooden devotes his time and sponsors the Oakland Soldiers AAU team.
The Soldiers is a respectable basketball program for producing NBA level talent. Alumni of the Soldiers include LeBron James, Chauncey Billups, Kendrick Perkins, Gooden himself, and NBA rookies Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson (via Oakland Soldiers’ Alumni Page).