The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in San Francisco. The Warriors compete in the National Basketball Association, as a member of the league’s Western Conference Pacific Division. Founded in 1946 in Philadelphia, the Warriors moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1962 and took the city’s name, before changing its geographic moniker to Golden State in 1971. The club plays its home games at the Chase Center.
The Warriors won the inaugural Basketball Association of America championship in 1947, and won again in 1956, led by Hall of Fame trio Paul Arizin, Tom Gola, and Neil Johnston. After the trade of star Wilt Chamberlain in January 1965, the team finished the 1964–65 season with the National Basketball Association’s worst record. Their rebuilding period was brief due in large part to the Warriors’ drafting of Rick Barry four months after the trade. In 1975, star players Barry and Jamaal Wilkes powered the Warriors to their third championship, widely considered one of the biggest upsets in National Basketball Association history.
The team struggled in the 1980s, then became playoff regulars at the turn of the decade with stars Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin, nicknamed “Run TMC”. Led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the team returned to championship glory in 2015, with defensive swingman Andre Iguodala being named Finals MVP. In 2016, the Warriors set the record for best regular season record at 73-9 before losing the Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers and becoming the first team to blow a 3–1 lead in the Finals. After signing former MVP Kevin Durant, the team won back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. They lost the 2019 Finals to the Toronto Raptors, a series which saw Durant and Thompson suffer serious Achilles and ACL injuries, respectively; Durant left that off-season. After missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Warriors returned to the playoffs with a healthy Thompson and a new supporting cast that included All-Star Andrew Wiggins and key scorer Jordan Poole; they defeated the Boston Celtics in the 2022 Finals, where Curry won his first Finals MVP. The Warriors’ dynasty has seen the team win 4 titles in 8 seasons, as well as reach five consecutive Finals from 2015 to 2019 ; Curry, Green, Thompson, and Iguodala were on all four 21st century championship teams, Shaun Livingston and Kevon Looney were on three each.
Nicknamed the “Dubs” as a shortening of “W’s”, the Warriors hold several National Basketball Association records: best regular season, most wins in a season, and best postseason run. Curry and Thompson are generally considered among the greatest backcourts of all time. The Warriors have the third most National Basketball Association championships and have the third most Finals appearances; only the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have more. Wilt Chamberlain and Stephen Curry have been named the National Basketball Association’s MVPs while playing for the Warriors, for a total of three MVP awards.
1946–1962: Early years in Philadelphia
The Warriors were founded in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors, a charter member of the Basketball Association of America. They were owned by Peter A. Tyrrell, who also owned the Philadelphia Rockets of the American Hockey League. Tyrrell hired Eddie Gottlieb, a longtime basketball promoter in the Philadelphia area, as coach and general manager. The owners named the team after the Philadelphia Warriors, an old basketball team who played in the American Basketball League in 1925.
Led by early scoring sensation Joe Fulks, the team won the championship in the league’s inaugural 1946–47 season by defeating the Chicago Stags, four games to one. The National Basketball Association, which was created by a 1949 merger, officially recognizes that as its own first championship. Gottlieb bought the team in 1951.
The Warriors won its next championship in Philadelphia in the 1955–56 season, defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons four games to one. The Warrior stars of this era were future Hall of Famers Paul Arizin, Tom Gola and Neil Johnston.
1959–1965: The Wilt Chamberlain era
In 1959, the team signed draft pick Wilt Chamberlain. Known as “Wilt the Stilt”, he led the team in scoring six times, quickly began shattering National Basketball Association scoring records and changed the National Basketball Association style of play forever. On March 2, 1962, in a Warrior “home” game played on a neutral court in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks, a single-game record the National Basketball Association ranks among its finest moments.
In 1962, Franklin Mieuli purchased the majority shares of the team and relocated the franchise to the San Francisco Bay Area, renaming them the San Francisco Warriors. The Warriors played most of their home games at the Cow Palace in Daly City from 1962 to 1964 and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium from 1964 to 1966, though occasionally playing home games in nearby cities such as Oakland and San Jose. They also played frequently at The University of San Francisco gymnasium.
Prior to the 1963–64 National Basketball Association season, the Warriors drafted big man Nate Thurmond to go along with Chamberlain. The Warriors won the Western Division crown that season, but lost the 1964 National Basketball Association Finals to the Boston Celtics, four games to one. In the 1964–65 season, the Warriors traded Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers for Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer, Paul Neumann and $150,000 and won only 17 games.
1965–1978: Thurmond and Barry
In 1965, they drafted Rick Barry in the first round who went on to become National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year that season and then led the Warriors to the National Basketball Association Finals in the 1966–67 season, losing to Chamberlain’s new team that had replaced the Warriors in Philadelphia, the 76ers.
Angered by management’s failure to pay him certain incentive bonuses he felt were due him, Barry sat out the 1967–68 season and signed with the Oakland Oaks of the rival American Basketball Association for the following year, but after four seasons in the ABA rejoined the Warriors in 1972. During Barry’s absence, the Warriors were no longer title contenders, and the mantle of leadership fell to Thurmond, Jeff Mullins and Rudy LaRusso. They began scheduling more home games in Oakland with the opening of the Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1966 and the 1970–71 season was the team’s last as the San Francisco Warriors.
The franchise adopted its brand name Golden State Warriors prior to the 1971–72 season, to suggest that the team represented the entire state of California.
At 59–23, the Warriors had the league’s best record during the 1975–76 season. They were upset, however, by the 42–40 Phoenix Suns in seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
1978–1985: A period of struggles
Due of the loss of key players such as Barry, Wilkes and Thurmond to trades and retirements, the Warriors struggled to put a competitive team on the court from 1978 to 1987 after being one of the National Basketball Association’s dominant teams in the 1960s and most of the 1970s. Through the National Basketball Association draft, however, they acquired some players such as high-scoring forward Purvis Short, former Purdue center Joe Barry Carroll and center Robert Parish, who was traded to the Boston Celtics in 1980 along with the draft pick that would become Kevin McHale for the pick used to draft Carroll. In 1983, the Warriors matched the New York Knicks’ offer for free-agent Bernard King, but, unable to pay his high salary, quickly traded him to the Knicks for guard Micheal Ray Richardson, whom they soon shipped to New Jersey in exchange for former Georgetown Hoya point guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, and journeyman forward Mickey Johnson. Floyd once scored 29 points for the Warriors in the fourth quarter of a playoff game against the Lakers, though he was later traded to the Houston Rockets.
The departure of these players for various reasons symbolized the franchise’s futility during this period, as head coach Attles moved up to the front office as general manager in 1980 and the team made several coaching changes. New owners Jim Fitzgerald and Dan Finane finally managed to return the team to respectability by hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach George Karl as head coach in 1986 after selecting St. John’s small forward Chris Mullin in the 1985 National Basketball Association draft.
1985–1997: The Chris Mullin and “Run TMC” era
After a subpar stretch in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the team had a brief resurgence under coach Karl, culminating in a 1987 Western Conference Semifinal match against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers that is still shown on TV in the National Basketball Association’s Greatest Games series. The second-half performance by the Warriors’ All-Star point guard Sleepy Floyd still stands as the National Basketball Association playoff record for points scored in a quarter and in a half. His six consecutive field goals in the fourth quarter led to a 51-point finish for him and a victory for the Warriors.
The “Sleepy Floyd game” catalyzed increased interest in the National Basketball Association in the Bay Area; so did new coach Don Nelson, who engineered a string of wins in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the high-scoring trio of point guard Tim Hardaway, guard Mitch Richmond and forward Chris Mullin. Collectively known as “Run TMC” after the rap group Run-D.M.C., the trio stayed together for just two seasons and won only one playoff series. Nelson sent Richmond to the Sacramento Kings for rookie power forward Billy Owens, a promising young front-court player meant to complement the coach’s run-and-gun system. Nelson had been brought to the Warriors from the Milwaukee Bucks by Jim Fitzgerald, who co-owned the team from 1986 to 1995 with Dan Finnane. In 1993–94, with first-round draft pick and Rookie of the Year power forward Chris Webber playing with off-guard Latrell Sprewell, the Warriors made the playoffs.
At the start of the next season, however, a rift formed between Webber and Sprewell on the one hand and Nelson on the other. All three soon left the team, and the organization went into a tailspin. The 1994–95 season was the first under new team owner Chris Cohan, who had bought out Fitzgerald and Finnane. The Warriors selected power forward …
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