HOUSTON -- Warriors point guard Stephen Curry wasn't too familiar with the team when he was drafted in 2009. But he knew he was in for a reclamation project judging by the number of times people told him to get out of Golden State.
"Too many to count," said Curry, who didn't even work out for the Warriors. "But for every three times I heard that, I had someone tell me I could be a part of something special and change things around."
Curry, like most everyone else in the organization, is stopping well short of announcing the Warriors have arrived. Especially after the team limped into the All-Star break with a five-game losing streak.
But as the Warriors enter into the league's annual showcase, it's hard
Four representatives in this weekend's showcase -- forward David Lee in the All-Star game, Curry in the 3-Point Shootout, and Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes in the Rising Stars game -- provides a rare opportunity for Warriors fans to experience the pride of their beloved squad on the big stage. It is a toast to the reality that Golden State is an improved franchise.
"It is important that we are respected," Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said. "I do put credence into that, that people in the basketball world are talking about us in a positive way. Is that what we set out to do? No. Our goal is to win championships. But it does show how we're headed in the
After the Warriors' disconcerting home loss to Houston on Tuesday, the locker room was as depressing as a Coldplay ballad. In the team's worst stretch of the season, grappling for answers and facing a weeklong break to marinate on it, Warriors coach Mark Jackson interrupted with some perspective.
He wrote "30-22" on the white board and told his players how no one thought they'd be eight games over .500 headed into the break, especially not after injuries took swingman Brandon Rush and center Andrew Bogut out of the lineup.
Jackson explained to them how they'd pulled off quite a feat in building up such a cushion that they can weather a five-game skid. He reminded them that 16 of the final 22 games are at home, and they're still in position to achieve their playoff goal.
"Like I told my guys," Jackson said, "do not let anyone fool you into believing we should be walking around with our heads down. Because there are teams in the Western Conference that would do anything to be sitting where we are sitting."
The winning record, which Bogut said has made the Warriors the hunted, and the heavy presence at All-Star weekend aren't the only evidence of the Warriors' relevance.
Curry's not being selected to the All-Star game caused an uproar among some. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is among those dubbing Jackson coach of the year. And if the election took place now, general manager Bob Myers might be voted Mayor of Oakland by virtue of write-ins.
Wasn't it just under a year ago that Lacob was getting booed at Chris Mullin's jersey retirement? Talk about redemption.
"I believed we could turn this franchise around," said Lacob, who flew his All-Star weekend participants to Houston on his personal jet. "Did I know? I can't say I knew when it would happen or how it would happen. I just believed we could do it. And it's happening. We've got a lot of work to do still, but we're making progress."
Curry doesn't get warnings to get out of Golden State anymore. Instead, he gets congratulated.
Perhaps few on the roster can appreciate the Warriors' rise to relevance more than Curry. He was a rookie when they hit what he called "rock bottom," when the season highlight was coach Don Nelson breaking the career wins record.
Now, when Curry walks around All-Star weekend, he isn't the unlucky young talent who just missed out on playing for a real team. Now he's the respected catalyst for a franchise many think is on to something.
"I knew we could eventually get here, and I just wanted to do my part in turning this around," said Curry. "It feels good."