According to the schedule the Golden State Warriors are coming to town tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have frequently expressed my love for NBA Live 95. It was one of the watershed games of the 90s. And unlike football, which got better and better with the Madden and NCAA franchises, basketball video games may have been at their peak in the mid 90s. To be fair I have not played a ton of the newer editions. But in limited gaming I have been impressed by the moves, features, and graphics. Yet they were not that fun to play. Regardless NBA Live 95 is legit. And if you have ever played that version you know that the Golden State Warriors were fantastic. Bo Jackson, Jeremy Roenick (although I think Mario Lemieux was better) and the NBA Live 95 Golden State Warriors. I truly believe they were that good. But first some background information.
The NBA Live 95 Boston Celtics were pretty similar to the real live Celtics of that time period. And by that I mean they were not particularly good. So I do not feel bad about my lack of excitement for a team that featured Dino Radja, Sherman Douglas, Rick Fox, Chris Corchiani, Robert Parish, Xavier McDaniel, Kevin Gamble, Dee Brown and Ed Pinckney. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Parish fan, if they had worked Douglas' floater into the game this post would not exist and I guided that squad to a lot of victories. But in real life they missed the playoffs and in the game they were average at best. And I didn't even mention Acie Earl and Alaa Abdelnaby because this is not about the Celtics. And I don't want to go on a delusional rant that will only frighten anyone who has made it this far. Let's move on.
After winning a championship with the aforementioned Celtics squad I set my sites on playing with some of the other teams in the league. And there were some good ones. As you might expect the Houston Rockets, Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic were all good. But none of them could hold a candle to the Golden State Warriors. Let's look at them player by player:
Tim Hardaway - Though this was after Run TMC, it was way before he started an ill-fated, one man campaign against homosexuality and his subsequent, genuine attempt to see the other side. Back then Hardaway was only one of the coolest guys in the league. And in the game he could shoot the three and finish around the rim like most point guards only dream of doing. Overall he was awesome.
Chris Mullin - He was a three-point assassin. From deep on the wing. Check. Falling out of bounds in the corner. Check. Dead on. Check.
Latrell Sprewell - This was back when doing "Latrell Sprewell things" meant finishing on the break with authority, making commercials (see below) with Chris Webber that conveniently left out Charles Barkley's playoff revenge and in the game knocking down three pointers if necessary. Now of course, fair or not, "Latrell Sprewell things" can mean choking a coach, parties on yachts and leaving the NBA altogether after a "feed my family" fiasco. Granted Sprewell's legacy should be more mixed than it is. For stretches he was a damn good player. More importantly that's three players who could knock down the three for the video game Warriors.
Chris Webber - The game was not about centers that could out muscle opponents or wow defenders with an array of post moves. Sorry Shaq and Hakeem. It was about taking guys off the dribble and finishing in transition. And Chris Webber was among the best when it came to that.
Billy Owens - If only people could someone convince themselves that video game Billy Owens and real life Billy Owens were one in the same. Then, and only then, would people get off Owens' case and stop calling him a bust. Unfortunately that will never happen. On the bright side Owens is another mobile big man who gets it done in the game. By the way I counted four Warriors - Owens, Chris Mashburn, Todd Fuller and Joe Smith - in SI.com's look at draft day busts. Needless to say that Warriors were not big on scouting high school guys in the late 90s (Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant).
The Bench - Yes Avery Johnson and Chris Gatling are most likely the only names you will recognize. But it was a video game. So who cares?
Ironically, as much as I loved playing with the Warriors, my greatest memories are from games against them. I had a friend who refused to play with any other squad. He was adamant. So I went with a San Antonio Spurs squad that featured David Robinson, Dale Ellis (another three-point assassin), Willie Anderson, Vinny Del Negro and Dennis Rodman. Granted my friend did not believe in the fatigue option so my far superior bench of Terry Cummings, J.R. Reid, Sleepy Floyd, Antoine Carr and Lloyd Daniels did not get much if any burn. Although Sweet Pea Daniels saw plenty of time. No explanation needed on that one. But this is not about the video game Spurs. It is about the NBA Live 95 Warriors. And they were damn good. But since I can't find any good YouTube clips of the Warriors, let's all enjoy Shawn Bradley blowing a dunk attempt: