Golden State Warriors Mount Rushmore
OTG Basketball presents, NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next is the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry, G
The current face of the franchise and with years left on the clock, there’s a chance that Stephen Curry not only goes down as one of the greatest Warriors of all time, but THE greatest.
Back-to-back NBA MVPs in 2015 and 2016 (with the former being the first ever unanimous MVP decision in NBA history) have all but cemented the legacy of a three-time NBA Champion, six-time All-Star, and six-time All-NBA feature (three of which were First Team nominations) who regularly flirts with 50-40-90 seasons.
Aside from a statistical output, Curry brought in a new era in the Bay Area and helped revolutionize how the NBA is played today. Considered by many to be the greatest shooter in the game’s history, Curry ranks third all-time in made three-pointers. Trailing Reggie Miller by only 65 long-balls, Curry is sure to overtake Ray Allen’s historic all-time top mark of 2,973 made threes (barring any drastic injuries) in the next few years.
One of the most dynamic scorers to ever play the game, Chef Curry demands defense from the moment he first steps inside the half-court; as such, #30's place in the Warriors pantheon of greats is unquestioned.
Paul Arizin, F
Now, we move from the one shooter who is prone to going supernova on a nightly basis, to a bona fide NBA legend who had a picture-perfect jumper. Indeed, Paul Arizin is a must-have on the Warriors' Mt. Rushmore.
After being named College Player of the Year in 1950, Arizin’s jump shot really was quite revolutionary at the time. With this pretty stop-n-pop' in his arsenal, Arizin led the league in scoring in his second year with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1952.
Able to handle the ball, attack the rim with verticality, and also defend with tenacity, “Pitchin' Paul” really was a new type of NBA player. While other players in the same era struggled to run the score up, Arizin was so offensively electric that he managed to average at least 20 points for nine consecutive seasons, which was quite the achievement, considering the plodding brand of basketball that was characterized the 1950's.
Making the All-Star team in every single one of his 10 years for the Warriors (and being named the All-Star Game MVP in 1952) , Arizin also garnered a second scoring title and three All-NBA First-Team appearances. Arizin’s dynamic scoring helped the Warriors win an NBA Championship in 1956, putting the former Villanova Wildcat firmly in the upper echelon of Warriors greats.
Rick Barry, F
How many players have led the NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring? Just one: Rick Barry.
Having scored over 25,000 points in his career, Barry was an effortlessly talented offensive player, averaging more than 30 points per game in four seasons with the help of an unorthodox but incredibly effective free-throw style.
Barry was also known for his fiery competitive nature, just about as much as his offensive ability; he did have a reputation for straining relationships with teammates in pursuit of victory. Despite this, Barry was named to 12 All-Star teams (winning the All-Star Game MVP in 1966), five All-ABA First Teams, and four All-NBA First Teams in a 15-year career. He also won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1965, with averages of 25.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Barry played for the San Francisco Warriors from 1965-67, followed by four seasons in the ABA due to a lack of incentive bonuses, before suiting up for the now-Golden State Warriors in 1972.
During this time, Barry helped the Warriors to their first NBA Championship in the 1974-75 season, sweeping the Washington Bullets in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Barry won Finals MVP, averaging 29.5 points, five assists and four rebounds for the series.
Leading the NBA in free-throw percentage in four seasons with his unorthodox underhanded mechanics, Barry was lethal on every offensive level. With superb court vision for a small forward (averaging 4.9 assists per game for his career), it's no wonder Barry was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987, and even less surprising that his #24 was retired by Golden State in 1988.
Without a doubt, Rick Barry is a Warriors legend; his name is nearly synonymous with early success in the Bay Area.
Wilt Chamberlain, C
The best player to don the Warriors jersey thus far, with only Curry potentially challenging for that moniker in the future, Wilt Chamberlain simply has to be on the Warriors’ Mt Rushmore.
From 1959-65, Chamberlain was a dominant force for the Warriors. Averaging 37.6 points and 27 rebounds (yes, really), he took home the NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year awards, along with the All-Star Game MVP, en route to a 4-2 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.
In Chamberlain’s second year, the big man became the first player to break the 3,000 point barrier, and the first and only player to pull down more than 2,000 rebounds in a single season (Chamberlain had 2,149).
Despite outputting these astronomical numbers in such a short time frame, Chamberlain’s third year was his most successful, not only for the Warriors but arguably for his entire 14 year career.
In the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game, all while shooting nearly 51 percent from the field. Tallying 4,029 points and 2,052 rebounds for the season, these were numbers that even the most avid YouTubers would struggle to put up over the course of a season on NBA 2K.
Oh, and there is also the small matter of Chamberlain notching a 100-point game during this legendary third league season. I'm sure you've seen this photo somewhere on the Internet before:
“The Big Dipper” had his #13 retired by the Warriors (and also by the 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers), and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. A terrifying presence on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, Chamberlain was a transcendent basketball player who's impact on the game can still be felt to the day.
Going down as (easily) one of the top ten players in NBA history, Chamberlain comfortably tops the list of greatest Warriors of all time.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com