My wife and I attended an NBA game last night, for the first time in a few years. We went a lot in the early 80s (think of it as the Joe Barry Carroll Era, and don’t say anything bad about old J.B. … he was Robin’s favorite player, and one night, when a kid in front of us was ragging on Carroll, as Warrior fans often did, she smacked the kid atop his head with her program). There was a time when Robin worked for a car dealer who had good season tickets, midcourt on the main floor, and she’d grab them whenever they were going unused. The Warriors were pretty entertaining in those days … the league as a whole was more high-scoring, and the Warriors had World B. Free, and the afore-mentioned Carroll, and rebounding monster Larry “Mr. Mean” Smith out of Alcorn State.
They also had Bernard King for two seasons. We went often enough in those two years that I can still close my eyes and see Bernard powering his way down the wing and over to the basket for another two points. One night (31 years ago last Tuesday, to be exact), we went to see Dr. J and the 76ers. I recall a classic Erving jam, and the Warriors ended up losing by double figures. But the real thing I remember is that Bernard King was on fire, and when the game was clearly out of reach, the W’s fed King on what seemed like every possession. He finished the night with 50 points, and I admit the loss, and even the presence of Dr. J, seemed like nothing compared to what King managed in that game. (Not that high-scoring games were unusual for King, whose career included one season where he led the league in scoring, back-to-back games where he scored 50, and one Xmas game where he scored 60.)
No one was going to score 50 points last night. Monta Ellis did what he could … he hit more than 50% of his two-point shots, drove the lane often enough to earn 17 free throws (he made all but one), dished out six assists, and made the highlight-reel play of the game. He also went 0-for-5 from 3-point range, committed six turnovers, and missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer, but it’s unfair to blame him for the team’s one-point loss, considering Stephen Curry didn’t play, leaving Monta as pretty much the whole show for the team.
Our seats sucked (there’s a big difference between sitting at center court for free and paying $26 apiece to sit in the nosebleeds), the food wasn’t much better, and the home team lost, but I think we had a good time. A lot has changed in 30 years, though. The final score of 88-87 was lower than all but one game the team played in 1980-1 (the Warriors averaged almost 110 points a game that year). There was a woman referee. Parking was $18. For one night, at least, it was nice attending a sporting event with my wife.