OAKLAND – The Warriors during their first 40 years in the Bay Area employed 19 different coaches, only one of which led them to an NBA Championship.
Those Warriors didn’t simply win the NBA Finals, they did so in a sweep – and with only one All-Star on the roster.
Motivating and inspiring that team to a championship in 1975 was Alvin Attles’ finest professional hour – until Friday.
That’s when Attles received a phone call that, frankly, was overdue. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame informed him that he had been elected, as part of the Class of 2019, to join the ranks of the game’s legends.
Upon getting the news that he had been chosen as a contributor, Attles responded with typical good-natured humility.
“The first thing he said about his selection,” according to his son, Alvin Attles III, “is that everybody makes a mistake.”
That surely was the reaction around much of the sports world when the Warriors shocked the Washington Bullets back in ’75.
The Bullets (now the Wizards) had three All-Stars – Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Phil Chenier. Their 60-22 record tied the Celtics for the best in the league, and they ousted Boston from the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.
Though the Warriors, with Rick Barry as their only All-Star, finished 48-34 that season, they embraced the underdog role and won four games by a combined margin of 16 points.
That the Warriors won every game by single digits is a reflection of their mental toughness and basketball intellect, two attributes also associated with Attles during his 11-season playing career, providing team owner Franklin Mieuli with sound reasons make Attles a player-coach over his final two seasons before becoming a full-time head coach in 1971.
Attles won a title with a roster with players – rookie Keith (later Jamaal) Wilkes was the No. 2 scorer at 14.2 points per game – that embodied his characteristics surrounding Barry, who averaged more than 15 points per game.
Attles, 82, usually is a fixture at Warriors games, sitting in his personal seat atop the lower bowl at Oracle Arena. In his 59th year with the Warriors in several capacities, he attended a few games earlier this season but has not been on site in recent months while coping with an undisclosed medical condition.
“He actually is in very good spirits,” Attles III texted.
[RELATED: Kings' Divac 'overwhelmed' by Hall selection]
“It’s going to be a while,” he added, referring to his father’s health. “We’re trying to rehab him ... we now go about the business of nursing him back to health.”
In addition to Attles, the Class of ’19 also includes, among others, Sidney Moncrief, Bobby Jones, Chuck Cooper, Teresa Weatherspoon, and Vlade Divac.