It’s often said that there’s a first time for everything.
On Saturday, one day after the Warriors completed a 19-point comeback against the Mavericks to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals, I was happy to see the name Robert Parish associated with the Warriors for the first time ever.
And I have Warriors center Kevon Looney to thank.
Parish is an ex-Warriors center whom Golden State traded to the Celtics, helping Boston build a dynasty, led by NBA legend Larry Bird. You can read more about the trade here in an insightful article from SF Gate.
But in the Warriors’ Friday-night win, Looney had a monster game, one not seen for the Warriors since Parish contributed to the franchise — well before he became a sign of Warriors futility, which he was for years until Golden State became a premier franchise with the arrival of superstar Stephen Curry.
Looney had 21 points and 12 rebounds to be exact, a career-high in points on 10-for-14 shooting. But it was his effort that had fans at Chase Center chanting “MVP-MVP” when Looney stepped to the free-throw line in the second half.
Here’s a taste of his effort as he chases a small guard on defense and forces a miss. (The second tweet.)
So thank you, Kevon Looney. A lot has changed since the Warriors went from a laughing stock to one of the best franchises in sports, but I still cringed when I saw the name Robert Parish. But not on Saturday. And now, when I see Parish’s name again, I’ll think of Looney playing out of his mind and getting MVP chants in the house that Steph built.
But practically speaking, Looney was so effective because he knows the flow of the Warriors offense and its superstars so well. He knows he’ll have space to operate near the bucket, and he’s been ready to catch, pivot, and shoot, often with a slam dunk. And he’s always been a gifted rebounder.
One more note: Looney is the Warriors’ only center on the roster. That makes his contribution vital. It’s also vital that he’s not overworked so he can be ready for the NBA Finals if the Warriors are fortunate enough to get there. But he’s played in every game this season, and Looney told reporters on Friday that his body is ready for more.
So let’s get more 20 and 10 games from Looney and bury Parish’s name deeper down on the Warriors playoff stat lists. After Looney got MVP chants at Chase and reminded me of Parish in a good way, it’s clear that anything is possible.