HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Life is good right now if you’re a Golden State Warrior — be it a player, coach, owner, fan, etc. It could get better this evening, if both Stephen Curry and David Lee are named reserves for the Western Conference All-Star team, which will be announced at 7 p.m. ET on TNT.
The good times are rolling in Oakland right now in ways that the locals haven’t seen in years — 20 of them to be exact. The last time the Warriors hit the halfway point of the season parked in the top two of the Pacific Division standings, it was 1992. They’ve handled the division-leading Los Angeles Clippers and the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder in their past two games. And they’re the only team in the league with wins over the Clippers, Thunder and Miami Heat this season.
In addition to Curry and Lee and their strong All-Star cases, Warriors coach Mark Jackson has to be at or near the top of the list (with Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks) for Coach of the Year at the season’s midway point.
While I’m still not sure if these Warriors are ready for a deep playoff run, they’re at least firmly back in the playoff mix, which is always the first and most important step for a team trying to make the leap from the lottery to long-term solvency. One thing I think we can all applaud is the Warriors’ nose-to-the-grindstone approach. They didn’t fold up during a recent rough patch that saw them drop five of six games. They stepped back, took a breath and went about the business of putting together their current three-game win streak.
And that brings me back to tonight’s All-Star reserves announcement, Curry and Lee and the fact that Warriors fans reserve the right to be outraged if their two stars don’t find themselves on the West’s list.
Jackson made a similar argument to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins before Wednesday night’s win over the Thunder, taking aim at the fan vote for the Warriors’ Southern California neighbors (the Los Angeles Lakers) who already have two starters (Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard) on the Western Conference roster:
“We fall in love with names,” Jackson said before the game. “But the Lakers should not have two starters this year — and I’d say the same thing if I was coaching them. I never said last year that any of my guys should have been an All-Star, because quite honestly, they should not have been.”
That’s not quite true. On more than one occasion last season, Jackson said Monta Ellis was deserving (an opinion shared by this column at the time). But he definitely feels stronger about his current pair of candidates. “It would be wrong, a disservice to them, if they’re not on the team,” he said. “They’ve got the numbers, they’ve got the wins. They’ll be there if justice prevails.”
There is bound to be plenty of injustice when the reserves are announced. Someone always gets snubbed. But the Warriors deserve better this time around.
Curry and Lee deserve better for the work they’ve put in while leading one of the most surprising, feel-good stories of this NBA season to a place none of us can honestly say we saw coming.