By Lorenzo Tanos
Simply put, the Golden State Warriors haven't had much success over the past two decades. In fact, this season is shaping up to be their best in a very long time, what with a lineup of young stars, including a backcourt that's only scratching the surface of their potential. NBA Trivia's back for the first time in a month, as we take a look at the history of one of the NBA's oldest and proudest teams.
1. True or False – The first-ever BAA/NBA scoring leader played for the Philadelphia Warriors.
True. When the Warriors started in 1946, they were based in Philly, and their top scorer was a 6'5" forward from Murray State named Joe Fulks. "Jumpin' Joe" averaged 23.2 ppg (and scored 1,389 total points) to lead the BAA in the 1946-47 season. He was also the points-per-game leader in '47-'48 with 22.1 ppg, but as scoring leaders were then determined by total points in a season, Fulks wasn't recognized as the top scorer that year.
2. What were the three names the Warriors had gone by in their 67-year history? And which city are the Warriors based in?
This one should be easy. Philadelphia Warriors from 1946 to 1962, San Francisco Warriors from 1962 to 1971 and Golden State Warriors from 1971 to present. The Warriors have been largely based in Oakland since 1971, when they adopted the "Golden State" team name.
3. Who were the three players acquired by the San Francisco Warriors when they sent Wilt Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers?
Feeling homesick and unhappy with the recent run of losing seasons, "The Big Dipper" was more than glad to be traded to the recently-relocated Philadelphia 76ers (formerly the Syracuse Nationals) midway through the 1964-65 season. Unfortunately, the Warriors weren't too lucky with the players they received in return. Lee Shaffer was arguably the best of them, a 6'7" small forward who had three good years for the Nats/76ers. Having secured a higher-paying job, Shaffer decided to retire from the NBA at age 24, and as of 1964-65, he refused to report to either the Sixers or the Warriors. 6'9" center Connie Dierking was strictly a backup in his half-season with the Warriors. 6'1" guard Paul Neumann was, at least, a decent, though far fromn great starting guard for the Warriors until he retired in 1967.
4. True or False – Chamberlain was the top pick of the 1959 NBA Draft.
False. If there was no such thing as a "territorial pick" in the early days of the NBA Draft, Chamberlain would've been the first player chosen in the 1959 Draft proper, hands down. Instead, he was a territorial selection by the Warriors despite the fact he played college ball in Kansas – the NBA allowed the Warriors to make Wilt a territorial pick on account of his status as a Philadelphia native who became a high school basketball legend in his home city.
5. True or False – More draft trivia here. The Warriors had the top two picks in the 1965 NBA Draft, and Rick Barry wasn't the first pick.
True. The Warriors drafted one heck of a second overall pick in '65, as Barry led the NBA in scoring in only his second season, and led the Warriors to great success in the '70s and their only NBA title thus far in 1975. However, 6'8" forward/center Fred Hetzel was picked ahead of Barry, and could only average 11.2 ppg and 5.9 rpg in a six-year NBA career, three of them with the Warriors. Indeed, one of the most underwhelming first-overall picks ever before Larue Martin came along in '72.
6. Which Warrior has the record for most points scored in a half in the Playoffs?
The highlight of Eric "Sleepy" Floyd's 13-year NBA career was his time with the Golden State Warriors, where he played in his only All-Star game in 1987. 1987 was also quite memorable for Floyd as that was when he scored 51 points in Game 4 of the Western Conference semis versus the Lakers. The Lakers would go on to win that series, but Floyd's performance, which included 39 points in the second half, allowed the Warriors to save some face and prevent L.A. from scoring a sweep.
7. Which Warriors big man is the team's career leader in rebounds?
For the high-scoring Warriors of the '80s, one of their key role players was 6'8" power forward Larry Smith. Unlike most of the other Warriors of the era, "Mr. Mean" wasn't a big scorer – in fact, he only averaged in double figures once in his 13-year NBA career. Still, he averaged 10 or more boards a game five times in nine Warriors seasons. Smith (6,440 rebounds as a Warrior) also played for the Rockets and the Spurs, albeit in a reserve capacity in the '90s.
8. Who was the Warrior traded with Tim Hardaway to the Miami Heat in exchange for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles midway through the 1995-96 season?
Talk about unbalanced trades. Chris Gatling, a.k.a. the "Energizer Bunny", was just that for the Warriors, an energy guy off the bench who could score in bunches when fielded in. The 6'10" forward/center averaged 9.1 ppg in 16.3 minutes for the Warriors in 1995-96, but turned into a super sixth man for the Heat following the trade, averaging 15.2 ppg in just 23.5 minutes of action per game.
9. Which successful NCAA head coach had an ill-fated stint with the Warriors that lasted just two seasons in the mid-2000s?
In three and a half decades as an NCAA Division I coach, Mike Montgomery's winning percentage is a healthy 69%. But as an NBA coach, he couldn't take the Warriors out of their rut, going 34-48 in his 2004-06 run with the team.
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