It has been a dark, dark time for Warriors fans. Many of us are reeling from the news of Klay Thompson’s injury–after waiting a year to watch the Splash Brothers vengeance tour, it’s heartbreaking to hear that we’ll have to wait at least one more season. The growth of the Lakers may also cause some of us despair–after all, it seems they’ve upgraded at nearly every position, reaffirming their status as championship favorites. All of this is not even to mention the world outside of basketball, which has been…not great, to say the least. Us Dubs fans needed a pick me up, and Bob Myers delivered in spades over the past week.
With the signing of Kent Bazemore, the Warriors gave their fans a treat by reuniting with one of the franchise’s oldest fan-favorites. Many of those who hopped over to the golden side of basketball forget just how beloved Bazemore was around the organization, but it’s difficult to overstate how much the Old Dominion product was adored around the Bay Area. As an undrafted free agent, Bazemore’s mentality quickly made him a fan favorite–he wasn’t a particularly good shooter, but his defensive instincts and hustle kept him in the rotation. When off the court, Bazemore was perhaps even more notable. He was the king of bench jubilation, and given that the Warriors had been awful for decades before Stephen Curry’s emergence, Bazemore’s celebrations often mirrored the mentality of the fans around him. Hell, I’m pretty sure my 13 year-old self reacted the exact same way to this layup:
Of course, to have gone any further without mentioning his clowning of Blake Griffin would be a disservice to the reader. I know Griffin has put plenty of opponents on a poster, but this may be the first time in the league’s history that someone was dunked on by someone on their opponent’s bench:
Of course, Bazmore’s follies weren’t just limited to on the court antics. In one of my favorite bits of rookie hazing, check out a bunch of early Warrior vets filling up the rookie’s car with popcorn:
Watching that video makes me incredibly nostalgic. You have to understand–Warrior fans in 2013 weren’t the spoiled bunch we are today. This was our first team to make the playoffs in nearly a decade. It didn’t matter that Richard Jefferson couldn’t hit a free throw in the clutch or that Carl Landry was undersized. It was a moment of sheer bliss, where taking a few games from the Spurs in the playoffs was nearly unthinkable. As essential to that era as stars like Curry and Thompson were, players like Bazemore and Jarret Jack were just as important, and hold a special place in the hearts of Dubs fans who were around when the team was perennially lottery-bound.
As for today, Bazemore’s return does more than just pull on the heartstrings of Warrior fans, it makes perfect basketball sense. When Klay came down with an ACL tear, it left the Warriors with a drought of 3-and-D talent surrounding their former MVP. Bazemore brings both of that in spades–he’s always been a dogged defender and shot 39% from deep in his stint in Sacramento. Aside from that, he’s played with Damion Lee, spent his rookie year alongside Draymond Green, and is best friends with Curry. No wonder he…
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