On Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors honored one of the franchise’s most popular players: shooting guard Jason Richardson. Although he played only six seasons for Golden State, Richardson forged a bond with Bay Area fans that is still not forgotten — as his standing ovation between the first and second quarter last night showed.
During his playing days, Richardson was the closest thing this team had to a “real” Warrior. He competed every night, he worked tirelessly on his game and he improved each year with the team. Richardson won two slam dunk titles and was an integral member of “We Believe,” the Golden State team that ended a 12-year playoff drought in 2007.
After the game, I started to think of the top-five most popular Warrior players, and there is little doubt that J-Rich belongs on it. By the way, remember after the trade to Charlotte, Richardson took out an ad in Bay Area newspapers, thanking the fans for their support over the years? The guy was loved.
Here was my original “starting five,” if you will, of the most popular Golden State players.
I posted this lineup on Twitter and it was met, generally (haha), with positivity and reinforcement. There were some tremendous suggestions and other points of view that I’ve received and it’s caused me to make a tweak to the lineup. According to many of my Twitter followers, Tim Hardaway belongs on the list ahead of Monta Ellis.
The thinking was that Hardaway was a part of some successful teams, whereas Ellis was just a young, sixth man on the “We Believe” team. In other words, Hardaway played in the postseason for the Warriors, and Ellis did only that one year, as pretty much a marginal sub at the time.
Many readers said that Hardaway being a part of “Run TMC,” was a huge part of him being popular and that his “killer crossover” was a move that kids all over the Bay Area emulated. I can see that. There was also a lot of support for Mitch Richmond. But the reason I didn’t put either of these guys on my top-five list was because Hardaway may be more remembered as a Miami Heat player and Richmond a King.
There was a lot of feedback that while Davis was loved, he wasn’t really in the Bay Area long enough to be a fan favorite — just 3-plus seasons. That may be true, but Davis was the player who finally led the Warriors out of their playoff drought, which lasted an unbelievable 12 seasons.
There were also a ton of fans wanting Draymond Green on that first team. Down the line, I think Green is a lock. But I’d say he still needs a little more time.
Anyway, after getting lots of feedback — and hopefully more — here’s my first- and second-team of Most Popular Warriors of all time:
First team: Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Stephen Curry.
Second team: Monta Ellis, Mitch Richmond, Draymond Green, Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas.
Honorable mention: Manute Bol, Jeremy Lin, Brian Cardinal, David Wood, Earl Boykins, Sarunas Marciulionis, Stephen Jackson, Larry Smith, Tom Tolbert.