NEW YORK — Warriors fans who booed Mike Dunleavy when he played for their team and continued to do so each time he touched the ball last week at Oracle Arena, his first appearance there since being traded to the Pacers, are easily the NBA’s most unrefined.
Evidently they hold it against Dunleavy that he failed to measure up (11 points-per game average, 43 percent shooting from the field, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists) to being picked third overall in 2002 during his 4-plus seasons with Golden State.
In the minds of these geniuses that’s Dunleavy’s fault.
Not Chris Mullin, the executive VP of basketball operations responsible for the selection or extending Dunleavy’s contract for, what, $42 million over five seasons.
Not Mike Montgomery, a career college coach Mullin hired (more likely owner Christopher Cohan), who was over his head in the pros and got the quick yank.
Not Baron Davis whose differences with Montgomery divided the team and greatly helped to expedite his exit.
Certainly not the legendary Don Nelson!
At the start of last season, the mad scientist deployed Dunleavy, a natural off-guard who can shoot, handle and pass, at power forward.
Because Dunleavy is 206 cm and, oh, yeah, 93 kg; meaning almost every night was a mismatch against Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Kenyon Martin, etc.
Nelson’ experiment was doomed to flop and it didn’t take long. Instead of taking the hit and confessing he had outsmarted himself, again, criticism was directed at Dunleavy.
Nelson covertly branded him “soft” to the Bay Area media, who obediently got the message out to fans.
On the record, Nelson identified Dunleavy as a, gasp, “blend player.”
Instigating, er, industrious reporters relayed that self-serving comment to Mike Dunleavy Sr., who knows Nelson’s snake oil act only too well, having played for him in Milwaukee.
“Oh, you mean a team player?” the Clippers head coach sarcastically remarked. “Yeah, that’s my bad. I taught my son that.”
In other words, Michael knows what he’s doing.
The question is, does Nelson know what he’s doing?
Well, recent history verifies Nelson’s eighth-place Warriors engineered the ultimate first-round upset in NBA history in eradicating the 67-win Mavericks last year, their first playoff competition in 13 seasons.
Additionally, Nelson has his team in the thick of things again, in eighth place with a 25-17 record, including 14-10 on the road, two more away wins than all of last season.
No doubt, those same above-mentioned boneheads blame Dunleavy for the Warriors’ lottery level during his tour . . . and the eight seasons before he got there.
The nerve of the nerd not to get packaged sooner to Indiana for Stephen Jackson (let’s hide and watch how he works out long-term) and Al Harrington, Nelson’s most abused whipping boy this season.
Conversely, in 28 years of coaching some excellent talent, Nelson’s brilliance has yet to shimmer on a conference final.
Is that any way for a self-styled Hall of Famer to run the sidelines?
ALL THAT’S left now is the open-ended contract extension, the CBA to be reborn with the help of a sub-prime mortgage and Anucha Browne Sanders recanting her allegations.
What else could there be besides, of course, genuflecting to the genius that is Isiah Thomas?
Following a Jan. 16 come-from-behind win against the Nets at the I-Nod Center, the Knicks won three straight for the first time James Dolan took charge.
While that might be a minor distortion, quite, Frankly, Lawrence, I’ve seen more than enough; you gotta go and that also goes for Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, and maybe Richard Jefferson as well.
Question is, is it too late for management to disassemble The Miniature Three and acquire rising talent, draft picks, expiring contracts and salary cap flexibility from legit championship contenders?
Surely, Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe recognize that once-feared unit is played out; individually, they probably can help a playoff team take a giant step forward, but it ain’t happening in New Jersey.
The time to make major moves is now; losing to the Knicks three straight times in one season should be ample proof the Nets are terrible.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.