How the Warriors Built their Empire and Changed the NBA

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USA Today Sports

There is very little question that the most dominant basketball team of the last 4 years has been the Golden State Warriors. They just successfully completed a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance and have gotten 3 championships out of it.

If you have told someone around 7 or 8 years ago that the Warriors’ culture and roster would be the standard for winning in the NBA, that person would have probably laughed at you. For the longest time, the Warriors were the laughing stock of the league and usually dwelled at the cellar part of the standings.

When Warriors owner Joe Lacob acquired the team in 2010, he made it known that he wanted to win another championship for the franchise. At that time, he was probably ridiculed by some, and for good reason. Luckily for Lacob, the Warriors already had their cornerstone for the future in Stephen Curry at that time. However, Curry was dealing with ankle issues and often missed huge chunks of each season. On the other hand, another combo guard in Monta Ellis was doing wonders for the team, prompting rumors that the Warriors front office is inclined to trade the oft-injured Curry.

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Warriors owner Joe Lacob promotes Bob Myers to general manager at the end of the 2011-12 season. Photo: Kelley L Cox – US PRESSWIRE

Instead of trading the 6-foot-3 Davidson product, which at that time would have been the practical thing to do, gave him a four-year $44 million dollar extension. Probably without realizing it, the Warriors have made the deal that would change the course of the franchise, the NBA, and Bay Area sports forever.

More importantly, the Curry extension set off a chain of events that resulted into the makings of arguably the greatest team in the past decade or so.

In the 2011 NBA Draft, the Warriors snagged Klay Thompson with the 11th pick. In 2012, they drafted Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green via the 7th and 35th pick. Then, they added the versatile Andre Iguodala through free agency, which was probably one of the most underrated acquisitions the league has seen. Along with Curry, these four comprised the vaunted ‘Death Lineup’, a five-man lineup that would spark the NBA’s small-ball obsession.


After being booted in the first round out of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, they fired Mark Jackson (surprising many, even Curry) and signed Steve Kerr. With Kerr maximizing the Warriors’ potential, they would go on and win the 2015 NBA championship. The following season, they followed it up with a historic 73-win season but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.

That painful loss would become another motivation for the Warriors organization as the team successfully recruited Kevin Durant in free agency. This would complete the juggernaut of a team that we know today. It’s interesting because Durant has said that if it weren’t for the Warriors losing in the Finals the year before, he wouldn’t have signed with them.

Today, they have won the last 2 championships, and with the signing of DeMarcus Cousins to a minimum contract this summer, are well on their way to their third straight title.

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Business-wise, the investment the Lacob made has surely paid off. The Warriors are now the third highest valued franchise at $3.1 billion dollars, only topped by big market teams New York Knicks (3.6 billion) and Los Angeles Lakers (3.3 billion). With the way things are going, expect their value to skyrocket even more.


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