Daydream Believers

In the middle of another catastrophic season, the Golden State Warriors refuse to face the probability that they're as bad as they seem

Even though there is a lot of evidence to the contrary, the Warriors actually do believe their time is coming, and that's why they're suffering so miserably now.


Things just seem to happen to the Golden State Warriors. And when they happen, it's to a degree that makes the afflictions of other NBA franchises look trivial. The Warriors don't just make bad trades; they feel compelled by irresistible events and forces to give up an already-blossoming young star (Chris Webber) for a relative pittance in return. They don't just have player discontent; they have Latrell Sprewell trying to strangle coach P.J. Carlesimo. They don't just have injuries; they have 23 players missing 543 games over a season and a half. And if other franchises can usually pin their failings on a bad coach here or an inept executive there, or on some isolated bad luck, blame for the Warriors' woes is too widespread to allow that kind of focusing. Since 1994 the Warriors have had two owners, three general managers, and six coaches. The characters change, and the plagues carry on, as if ordained by God, or, perhaps, Satan.


Warriors coach Dave Cowens isn't used to losing.


Related link:
Dino's "Warriors Suck" Page
(A frustrated fan's overview of the Warriors' disastrous 1990s personnel moves)
Paul Trapani

Warriors coach Dave Cowens isn't used to losing.

Related link:
Dino's "Warriors Suck" Page
(A frustrated fan's overview of the Warriors' disastrous 1990s personnel moves)


Warriors coach Dave Cowens isn't used to losing.


Related link:
Dino's "Warriors Suck" Page
(A frustrated fan's overview of the Warriors' disastrous 1990s personnel moves)
Paul Trapani

Warriors coach Dave Cowens isn't used to losing.

Related link:
Dino's "Warriors Suck" Page
(A frustrated fan's overview of the Warriors' disastrous 1990s personnel moves)


If the Warriors do catastrophe better than other NBA teams, this season they're outdoing even themselves. Fifteen players have already missed 212 total games with various ailments, and some of those injuries have reeked of the type of cruel fate usually reserved for Greek tragedy. Exhibit A: newly acquired power forward Danny Fortson, and his foot.

Acquired over the off-season from Boston through a four-way trade, Fortson, an effective reserve forward most of his four-year NBA career, was expected to come in and give the Warriors a proven rebounder to complement star forward Antawn Jamison on the front line. Fortson did just that. During a season-opening six-game stretch, Fortson was a bright spot. He scored better than 16 points per game and led the NBA in rebounding. Then he refractured a foot he'd broken the previous season.

He hasn't played since.

"I don't know if I'd use the expression "nuts,'" says General Manager Garry St. Jean, "but it's incredibly frustrating. You know, you sit here, and you're overseeing the basketball operation, and you're excited for the individual. And he's excited to be here. His teammates are excited. His coaches are excited. The fans are excited. That's a lot of special elements. And then, uh, well, that's definitely a major setback for this team."

To many on and around the Warriors, the team's terrible record this year is a matter of Fortson-like bad luck. It is not something that could have been avoided, or prepared for; it is an act of God, like an earthquake. Without the injuries, they fervently believe, this team would rock, or, at least, win nearly as often as it loses.

But the belief is just that -- a belief -- and the facts don't necessarily support it.

Although it's possible that a completely healthy Warriors team might resemble something competitive -- that it might even be in the hunt for a bottom-rung playoff seed in the NBA's talent-stacked Western Conference -- the notion that this group of Warriors will get completely healthy for a long period of time is probably a pipe dream. Center Erick Dampier's bum knee has kept him out of the better part of two full seasons. (And actually, the injury seems less a blow to the team than a matter of addition by subtraction: Dampier is a large but molasses-slow center who shot a miserable 43 percent from the field and pulled down 6.8 rebounds a game when he's actually played this season. His replacement, Marc Jackson, has turned out to be the team's second most effective player, averaging 17.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a starter, with a shooting percentage almost 10 percent higher.) Chris Mills is a quality NBA swingman, but his ankle has plagued him, it seems, since the moment he was acquired in the Sprewell deal. When the team traded for Fortson, it knew he'd missed the last half of the previous season with a stress fracture of his right foot -- the same injury he has now. Guard Bob Sura, another off-season acquisition, has missed time with a back ailment that's also plagued him in the past. It's true that former Dream Teamer Chris Mullin has missed 25 games because of injury. But he's 38 years old and slow, and missing games because of injury is what 38-year-old players do.

There are, of course, the freak injuries -- Hughes missed nine games after falling on his thumb; Adonal Foyle broke a tibia in almost miraculous fashion, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that "it felt like somebody kicked me ... I'm cursed." But are the Warriors so much worse off in that regard than a team like Miami, which lost star center Alonzo Mourning for the season with a kidney ailment? Or Orlando, which lost Grant Hill, possibly the game's most complete player, to a foot injury similar to Fortson's?

Despite their injuries, Miami and Orlando may make the playoffs. The Warriors are going to come in last, or second-to-last, in their division, as they usually do.

Although he doesn't say so directly or harshly, even Cowens appears to recognize that some of his team's problems -- perhaps even its most significant problems -- have nothing to do with injury.

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