This was still the time the MVP trophy was awarded during the postseason in front of the recipient’s home crowd. Most of the time, you can bank on the league’s best player making it past the first round. Not that year.
Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks, fresh off a Finals appearance the previous season and holder of the best record in the NBA, fell in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors.
The “We Believe” Warriors crushed the Mavericks’ championship aspirations. The ride didn’t stop there. In the next round against the Utah Jazz, Golden State point guard Baron Davis took the soul of Andrei Kirilenko and crafted the NBA’s newest and greatest poster.
Baron Davis Dunks Over Andrei Kirilenko
It was late in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Warriors had a 119-99 advantage over the Jazz. Oracle Arena was buzzing.
Baron Davis drove left towards the baseline. Kirilenko, in the help position, rotated over to stop Davis — The moment before it all went wrong.
The UCLA product planted off two feet and flew. He floated in the air for an extra second, then brought down the hammer over poor AK-47. He signaled his triumph by lifting his jersey and relishing in a victory flash. It was goodnight for the Jazz.
Warriors fans went nuts. Rumor has it management had to invest in a new roof that night.
Davis’ flush captured the spirit of that ’07 Warriors team. If something was in their path, they bulldozed through it. Davis, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson; those guys feared no one and were definitely the most likable Warriors team in recent memory. (Sorry, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.)
The dubs didn’t have enough to take down the Jazz. Game 3 was the only game they stole in that series. Utah went on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, which the Spurs won in five games. San Antonio defeated a young LeBron James — who somehow carried an astonishingly mediocre Cleveland Cavaliers through the Eastern Conference — in the Finals to claim the franchise’s fourth championship.
The “We Believe” Golden State Warriors electrified Oakland and the Bay Area during their run. They may have fallen short, but they have a poster to commemorate the experience and helped create perhaps the most cumbersome acceptance speech of all time. For that, we thank them.