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In Catholicism, St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and
after last season he was surely expecting a call from the Golden
State Warriors. That plea for help came in the form of a prayer
from Father Peter Colapietro, the priest who officiated at the
wedding of team owner Chris Cohan. At Cohan's request, when
Father Colapietro was in Rome in May he stopped at a church and
prayed for the team at the foot of a statue of St. Jude, asking
for Golden State to be blessed with good luck in the draft

Father Colapietro even attended the lottery in late May, and his
petitions were answered when the Warriors landed the No. 1
overall pick, which they used to draft Maryland power forward
Joe Smith. Golden State is in a position to make a dramatic
improvement after last season's 26-56 disaster, but with the
Warriors' recent history, Father Colapietro would be wise to
keep a candle lit for them.

In 1994-95 the Warriors went from a dark-horse championship
contender to a team in ruins. Coach Don Nelson and forward Chris
Webber tangled in a power struggle that ended with Webber's
being traded to the Bullets and Nelson's resigning at midseason.
Latrell Sprewell, a first-team All-NBA player in '93-94, sulked
all year over the trades of his friends Webber and Billy Owens
(to the Heat) and was suspended twice, for missing a practice
and for skipping a team function. Then there was the annual
series of injuries to forward Chris Mullin, who missed 57 games
last season, 20 the season before and 36 the season before that.
Last year's list of ailments included a chip fracture and
sprained ligament in his left knee, and vasovagal syncope, a
condition that causes occasional blackouts.

When Mullin was able to play, he showed that he can still score,
and the team's disjointed offense ran more smoothly. "If Mullin
had been with us the whole season," Golden State center Rony
Seikaly said late in the year, "we'd be going to the playoffs,
and you wouldn't be hearing about all these problems."

The Warriors could be on their way to the playoffs this season,
with the help of a new management team. One of new general
manager Dave Twardzik's first moves was to hire Rick Adelman,
his former teammate with the Trail Blazers, as coach. Twardzik
and Adelman have talent to work with--Mullin, Sprewell and Tim
Hardaway are all former All-Stars and Seikaly is a solid center.
But resolving a rift between Hardaway and Sprewell may be the
determining factor in how successful the Warriors will be in

The styles of the two guards didn't mesh on the court--Hardaway
shoots early and often, a trait that didn't endear him to
Sprewell--and their personalities clashed off the floor too.
Hardaway, a longtime Nelson supporter, said that the coach's job
could have been saved if several players, including Sprewell,
had given a better effort. Sprewell responded by calling
Hardaway "a Nellie brownnoser" and saying he didn't want to play
with him.

Adelman and Twardzik have tried to defuse the situation during
the off-season, calling in Hardaway and Sprewell to discuss
their differences. "Things were said last year that might not
have been said if the team hadn't been having such a frustrating
season," Twardzik says. "Everything I've seen and heard from
both guys so far indicates that they both want to be here--and we
want them here." Sprewell and Hardaway have apparently called a
truce, but Warrior management, which acquired guard B.J.
Armstrong from the Toronto Raptors as an insurance policy, will
monitor the situation closely. If friction continues, expect the
Warriors to deal one of the guards, most likely Hardaway.

Golden State could be the most improved team in the league,
providing they straighten out their backcourt. Seikaly's numbers
were down last year, but that was partly because he lost
interest once the season became hopeless. The slender Smith
won't immediately make fans forget Webber, but he will
contribute. "When Chris came in as a rookie, he already had the
classic power forward body and more raw explosiveness," says
Warrior director of player personnel Ed Gregory. "But Joe's
overall game is more polished, and he has a better outside shot.
Plus his game lacks what I call the b.s. factor. He works his
butt off without worrying about all the highlight-reel stuff."

Adelman wants the Warriors, who were a high-scoring team under
Nelson, to concentrate more on defense and rebounding. But it
will be even more important for Adelman to change the team's
attitude and boost its morale. If that doesn't happen, only
divine intervention can save them.


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH If Mullin can avoid his annual injury, the Warriors could be a team on the rise. [Chris Mullin]



PPG (Rank) FG% (Rank)

OFFENSE 105.7 (6) .468 (11)
DEFENSE 111.1 (27) .488 (24)


Golden State started last season with seven wins in its first
eight games, becoming one of 72 teams in NBA history to win at
least seven of its first eight. Of those 72 teams, only three
failed to make the playoffs, and only the '94-95 Warriors failed
to play at least .300 ball the rest of the year. By the way, the
Houston Rockets started last season 8-0 and went 39-35 after
that, for a .527 winning percentage--and then, of course, went on
to win the NBA title.

Worst Winning Percentage Following a 7-1 or 8-0 Start

'94-95 Warriors

First 8 7-1
Remainder of Season (Pct.) 19-55 (.257)
Division Finish 6
Playoffs Did not qualify

'79-80 Trail Blazers

[First 8] 8-0
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 30-44 (.405)
[Division Finish] 4
[Playoffs] Lost first round

'77-78 Hawks

[First 8] 7-1
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 34-40 (.459)
[Division Finish] 4
[Playoffs] Lost first round

'76-77 Cavaliers

[First 8] 8-0
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 35-39 (.473)
[Division Finish] 4
[Playoffs] Lost first round

'81-82 Trail Blazers

[First 8] 7-1
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 35-39 (.473)
[Division Finish] 5
[Playoffs] Did not qualify

'47-48 Capitols

[First 8] 8-0
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 20-20 (.500)
[Division Finish] 2
[Playoffs] Won NBA title

'70-71 Pistons

[First 8] 8-0
[Remainder of Season (Pct.)] 37-37 (.500)
[Division Finish] 4
[Playoffs] Did not qualify


Forward-center Clifford Rozier started slowly as a rookie last
season. He missed virtually all of training camp because of a
contract holdout and reported in poor shape. But toward the end
of the season, the 6'11", 255-pound Rozier became a demon on the
boards. He averaged 10.1 rebounds over the final two months and
had 21 in a game against Houston. Even with the addition of Joe
Smith, the Warriors badly need a big man to do the dirty work
under the boards, and Rozier could be the answer. There are
still doubts about his attitude--he complained about his limited
offensive role and was suspended for a game when he missed a
shootaround--but if he begins this season the way he ended the
last one, Rozier's playing time and statistics could rise



SF Chris Mullin 19.0 ppg 4.6 rpg 5.0 apg
PF Joe Smith Rookie; 1st overall pick, from Maryland
C Rony Seikaly 12.1 ppg 7.4 rpg 1.03 bpg
PG Tim Hardaway 20.1 ppg 9.3 apg 1.42 spg
SG Latrell Sprewell 20.6 ppg 4.0 apg 1.62 spg


F-C Clifford Rozier 6.8 ppg 7.4 rpg 44.7 FT%
G B.J. Armstrong 14.0 ppg 3.0 apg 88.4 FT%
F Donyell Marshall 12.6 ppg 5.6 rpg 1.22 bpg