On Dec. 1 the Golden State Warriors downed the Orlando Magic easily, and following the contest I tossed two observations about the losing team around a joke about Kevin Durant enjoying chain restaurant pasta. The Warriors have two former MVPs right now that play like it, the franchise is the overwhelming favorite to take its third title in four seasons, and it’s been good for a while now.
Dec. 1 is also the date that Latrell Sprewell choked Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo. It happened during and then after Golden State practice, and it was the first Big Sports Thing many learned about first on the internet, because it happened in 1997.
The incident was supposed to wash the NBA, certain to lose Michael Jordan to retirement in a matter of months. Part of the package designed to leave pro hoops in its rightful place at distant third, while the league did all it could to work around the inevitable.
Kind of. The NBA’s owners would go on to lock its players out exactly seven months after the incident; a few days after Sammy Sosa ended June with 33 home runs, pulling to within four of Mark McGwire’s 1998 total following just three months of baseball. By then, even after the Dec. 1 outrage, Sprewell and most Warriors were forgotten, as was usually the case by summer for the perennial Easy Out.
Most of the country didn’t see the Golden State logo until it was time to pull it out of an envelope. The GM or owner was always on TV for that. So many typically couldn’t place the coach of the team until TNT chatted about whoever the Warriors had left on draft night right before GSW made its call on its next selection, replete with either the most or least amount of baggage available at the time.