On May 8, 1991 the Dow Jones closed at 2,931. Joyride by Roxette was the number one song in the country. The minimum wage had just been increased to $4.25 an hour. Jose Canseco and Madonna were secretively dating. And the Golden State Warriors wrestled home court advantage away from the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of their NBA playoff series. That was 22 years ago. It was the last time the Warriors were in as good a position as they stand today.
When the Warriors beat San Antonio on Wednesday night, after blowing a 16 point lead with four minutes left in the series opener on Monday, Golden State tied the Spurs at one game apiece in their best of seven battle for a Western Conference Finals bid. The win was the Warriors first in San Antonio since 1997.
Back in 1991, after Chris Mullin scored 41 points and Tim Hardaway dished off 14 assists and added eight steals to beat the Lakers 125-124 at the Great Western Forum, LA rebounded and won three straight games knocking the eighth seeded Warriors out of the playoffs. Magic Johnson, who had 44 points in the loss, would lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Meanwhile, the Warriors would wait 16 years until winning another playoff series.
In the time since the Warriors were last tied in the second round of a playoff series, the Spurs have won four championships and missed the playoffs only once. The year San Antonio failed to make the playoffs they won the lottery and drafted Tim Duncan. Golden State knows the lottery well. From 1995 up until the most recent ping-pong ball drama the Warriors have participated every year but once. Their lone lottery triumph was in 1995. They chose Joe Smith. Their next four picks were Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, and Kevin Garnett.
If the Warriors beat San Antonio in game three, they'll take a lead in their second playoff series of the season for the first time since 1976. During that same playoffs the Buffalo Braves were eliminated by the Celtics. The Braves moved to San Diego 35 years ago and have been the LA Clippers since 1984.
Many NBA fans have adopted the Warriors and for good reason. Golden State's losing has been a tradition as dependable and as enjoyable as paying taxes. What the bandwagon fans have going for them is that when the Warriors falter they haven't invested a whole lot. Meanwhile, if history repeats itself, we can expect a Warrior star to choke his coach, leave in free agency, or demand a trade during this off-season. If you're a real dreamer, the Warriors last won a title in 1975. John Lennon had just debuted Stand by Me. The Jazz hadn't moved from New Orleans to Utah yet. The Dow Jones was at 832.