Magoosh English Class: The Rise and Fall of the Golden State Warriors (Basketball Pt. 2)

Wide shot of a packed basketball arena during a basketball game

In part two of our Sports in America: Basketball free English class series, we will look at one of the greatest comeback stories in NBA history: the rise and fall of the Golden State Warriors!

Goals:

  • Learn about the history of the Golden State Warriors
  • Learn more basketball and general English vocabulary
  • Learn how to form the imperfect tense with auxiliary verbs
  • Learn about some of the NBA’s most talented players

Difficulty Level:

Advanced

Time:

Approximately 15 minutes

The Rise and Fall of the Golden State Warriors

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

The Early Years

The Golden State Warriors are a professional team founded in 1946 in Philadelphia. Back then, they were simply known as the “Warriors.” In 1962, the team relocated to San Francisco, California. Almost a decade later, they adopted a new moniker to reflect California’s state nickname — The Golden State.

The team struggled to find success in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, in the mid-1980s, the Golden State Warriors played in a Western Conference Semifinal match that is still celebrated as one of the greatest games of all time. Thanks to the stunning performance of Sleepy Floyd and the rest of the team, the Golden State Warriors gained a new following in the San Francisco Bay area.

Time to Rebuild

Though the team continued to struggle in the late 90s and early 2000s, they seemed to have finally found their savior in Steph Curry. The Golden State Warriors chose Steph Curry in the 2009 NBA draft. Despite the abilities of their newest point guard, they failed to make the playoffs that year due to a string of injuries. Nonetheless, the owners and coaches persevered and signed Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese-American player in NBA history. They would spend the next few years adding to their all-star lineup with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.

The Golden Years

In the 2012 season, Steph Curry broke the single-season NBA record for the most three-pointers. The Golden State Warriors reached the playoffs in two consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1990s. In 2014, the team hired Steve Kerr, a rookie coach who would lead the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals. That same year, the team set a league record with a total of 67 wins and just 15 losses. Additionally, Steph Curry was named the MVP (Most Valuable Player) and the Golden State Warriors became the NBA Champions for the first time since 1975.

Steve Kerr and Steph Curry led their team on to four more appearances in the NBA Finals. During this time, the team picked up Kevin Durant, adding to an already powerful arsenal of offensive players. After years of mediocrity, the Golden State Warriors had finally become one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NBA.

Trouble in Paradise

Despite winning records and NBA Finals appearances in both 2018 and 2019, the Golden State Warriors suffered a series of injuries that hindered the team’s success. In 2018, star center Demarcus Cousins suffered a quad injury. That same year, Kevin Durant would experience several injuries before ultimately leaving the team. Finally, Klay Thompson tore his ACL during the finals, helping the Toronto Raptors beat out the Golden State Warriors to become the 2019 NBA Champions.

While the future of the Golden State Warriors is uncertain, the 2020 season is not looking good. Since the start of the calendar year, they have lost 25 of the 30 games they’ve played. Though the NBA season has been indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it remains to be seen if the Golden State Warriors will ever return to their former glory.

Word Focus

Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:

  • Moniker – (noun) – A name.
    • The team’s official moniker changed several times over the years.
  • Semifinal – (noun) – A game or round before the final game in a championship series.
    • The Golden State Warriors will have to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Semifinals.
  • Savior – (noun) – A person who saves another person or group from danger; a person who helps others through a difficult time.
    • Lebron James was always a savior to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Point guard – (noun) – A position in basketball that functions as the leader of the offense.
    • Magic Johnson was one of the most talented point guards of all time.
  • Playoff – (noun) – One or more games played to determine the winner of a tournament or contest.
    • Steph Curry helped take his team to the playoffs.
  • Consecutive – (adjective) – Back-to-back in a sequence.
    • Steve Kerr took The Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals in 5 consecutive seasons.
  • Arsenal – (noun) – A collection of weapons or resources to help achieve a goal.
    • The Golden State Warriors have a lot of great players in their arsenal.
  • Franchise – (noun) – A professional sports team; a brand used for specific commercial activities.
    • The Chicago Bulls was the most successful NBA franchise of the 1990s.
  • Hinder – (verb) – To make it difficult for another person or group to achieve their goal.
    • Steph Curry’s injury hindered his ability to score three-pointers.
  • Center – (noun) – A position in basketball that is usually played by the largest and tallest player on the team.
    • Shaquille O’Neal was the greatest center of the early 2000s.
  • Quad – (noun) – Short for ‘quadriceps,’ a group of muscles at the front of the thigh.
    • The players stretched out their quads before every game to avoid injuries.
  • Postpone – (verb) – To delay; to change an event to a later date.
    • Coronavirus has forced the NBA to postpone the regular season.

Grammar Center: The Imperfect Tense

You’ve probably heard of the “perfect” tenses like the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect.

However, you may not be as familiar with the “imperfect” tense. The imperfect tense is used for any action in the past that does not have a specific beginning or end. The most common example is the past continuous:

  • He was walking the dog.
  • She was reading a book.
  • They were playing a game.

However, this is not the only way to form the imperfect tense. Let’s take a look at a few sentences from the passage:

  • They would spend the next few years adding to their all-star lineup with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.
  • In 2014, the team hired Steve Kerr, a rookie coach who would lead The Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals.
  • That same year, Kevin Durant would experience several injuries before ultimately leaving the team.

As you might have noticed, each sentence uses the auxiliary verb “would,” followed by an infinitive verb. In all three examples, we have a general idea of when the events took place, but the timeline is vague and imprecise.

In addition to talking about continuous or habitual events in the past, the imperfect tense can refer to events spread out over an indefinite period of time. Here are a few more examples using both would and could as the auxiliary verbs:

  • Curry could always tell when the coach was disappointed.
  • The team would rarely lose at home with Steve Kerr as their coach.
  • The Golden State Warriors would go on to break multiple records that year.

Quiz

  1. Which of the following statements most accurately captures the central idea of the passage?A. Steph Curry helped turn things around for the Golden State Warriors.B. Though the Golden State Warriors struggled for many years, they achieved great success between 2015-2019, before suffering multiple setbacks.C. Steve Kerr led the Golden State Warriors to victory before the team was struck with injuries.D. The Golden State Warriors reached their peak in the 2010s.
  2. Prior to 2015, in which year did the Golden State Warriors reach the NBA Finals?A. 1962B. 1980C. 1975D. 2014
  3. Which list represents a consecutive set of numbers?A. 11, 6, 2B. 1, 3, 6C. 2, 3, 4D. 10, 14, 1
  4. Which of the following is designed to hinder?A. BasketballB. CarC. HoopD. Barrier
  5. Which of the following is NOT an example of the imperfect tense?A. I went shopping last week.B. They were running errands.C. My team would end up with three awards that year.D. He will go to the supermarket tomorrow.
  6. Fill in the blank: “Steph Curry _____ go on to be the MVP in 2014 and 2015.”A. ShouldB. WouldC. CouldD. May
Show Correct Answers:
  1. B
  2. C
  3. C
  4. D
  5. D
  6. B
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