As I watch the Golden State Warriors fight their way through the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row, I can’t help but compare them to the other Bay Area sports dynasties that have given me joy over the years.
I just got off of a 10-hour flight to Japan and right when I connected to the free airport wi-fi I saw highlights of Steph Curry’s 15 point performance in a 1:58 stretch of the 3rd quarter against the Thunder. When you pair that event with the 17-point overtime performance against the Blazers just days earlier, you start to realize that what you are witnessing is historic.
And I don’t mean to say the 402 three pointers and 73 wins weren’t already historic. They are. But now the consistency of these events is starting to belittle the other sports legends of my childhood. If the Warriors go on to win another championship (or more) in the next few years, they will have solidified their spot as the greatest team to have experienced as a fan in Bay Area History.
The main teams and experiences I would compare the Warriors to are Bonds’ Giants, today’s Giants, and Steve Young’s 49ers. I was actually born 3 months after Montana won his 4th and final super bowl for San Francisco, so I didn’t get to experience those great years. I do admit, that would probably be the hardest one to argue even at the end of Curry’s career.
Warriors vs. Barry Bonds’ Giants
There are some players in every sport that leave the world in awe. Every time Bonds got up to bat every person in San Francisco was filled with hopeful excitement. He smashed records. He dominated headlines. He filled ESPN segments.
Even when the Giants lost games, Bonds was able to hand out unforgettable experiences to hundreds of thousands of fans throughout his career. Whether you saw him pass Mays, Ruth, or Aaron on the all-time home run list, eclipse Sosa and McGuire on the single season home run list, or just witness a 2-2 game with 3 walks and 2 home runs, it was incredible.
The only thing that was missing from the Bonds era was a championship. Curry and Bonds have awed crowds in a similar fashion (though Bonds did it for much longer as of now), but Curry has now brought his fans a championship. An important bragging right that cannot be denied. As long as he stays in the Bay Area for several more years, Curry’s team will cement their position over Bonds’ Giants. As an individual, Bonds will always be a legend though.
On a side note, Bonds’ career has also been tainted with the steroid issue and his lack of chemistry with teammates. These things have diminished his hero status in the area and in the sports world over time.
Warriors vs. Today’s Giants
The current Giants team has won three World Series since 2010 and has proven to be a dynasty. They have no doubt given SF fans something to brag about. But I feel like something is missing from this team to call them the greatest of my generation. There is not the same “wow” factor of individual greatness.
Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and company have been amazing. They have won MVPs, Cy Young awards, and come through in the clutch. Three World Series and counting is very, very impressive.
However, I don’t feel the same bubbling excitement when I watch them like I did when I watched Bonds bat or Curry shoot from half court.
At some point if they continue to win championships, we may need to call them the greatest. But for now, they do not make it to top of the greatest teams to experience list. Even with just one title, the Warriors are a better team to watch.
Warriors vs. Steve Young’s 49ers
Even though I was but a wee lad, I do remember watching Steve Young and Jerry Rice amaze spectators and opponents alike. Rice is the greatest wide receiver of all time and Young is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. They are both champions, they both hold many records, and they were doing it all on the same team.
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While Young has had the greatest Super Bowl performance of all time, he was only able to compete in one championship throughout his career. Young’s 49ers lost three NFC title games and were constantly slighted by the Cowboys and Packers.
If we combine the Montana/Young era into one team, I think it clear that with five championships and numerous hall of fame players they would be the best Bay Area team of all time. I can appreciate the legacy Montana created for the area and the proud football history San Francisco has, but I cannot argue for the experience as I did not experience it. What good is it to brag about five championships if you didn’t even exist when it happened?
Are the Warriors the best Bay Area sports team of the last quarter century and potentially of all time? We will need to wait for the next five years to unfold to know for certain, but I can confidently say that the past three seasons have been the best experience for me in the past 25 years.
It can be easy to overlook just how impressive the Dubs have been, especially the greatness of Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, when they are overshadowed by Curry arguably posting the single greatest season in NBA history.
I am happy to have been here for this historic run and have high hopes for this season and beyond. Let’s go Dubs!
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