We Believe

Even eight years later, the play lives on. In what might have been the NBA’s first true social media moment, Warriors PG Baron Davis blew by Deron Williams and dunked all over Andrei Kirilenko, putting the exclamation point on a playoff run that set NBA history.

Before Vine and Twitter meant you could watch replays endlessly, and memes of Jordan crying and Chris Paul playing Twister dominated the internet, there was YouTube footage of this dunk. 6-3 Baron Davis absolutely detonating on 6-9 Andrei Kirilenko.

This video is as good as it gets. Here’s the national ESPN call, too:

The way every single person in the building absolutely loses their minds at the exact same moment. The way Davis untucks his shirt after landing and simply walks back to the bench. How the announcers just start laughing, borderline speechless at what they just witnessed. Finally how Matt Barnes just puts his hands on his head and backpedaled down court, in shock over what he just witnessed.

Davis over Kirilenko was the defining moment of a playoff run that was incredibly rare in NBA history. Golden State’s 2007 “We Believe” run featured a series that was one of only four times in NBA history that an 8-seed beat a 1-seed. The Dallas series was the most lopsided of those four instances, an absolute wash of a series where the No. 8 Warriors steamrolled the No. 1 Mavericks in six games. The Dubs won each game by double digits, and the finale by 25.

The NBA playoffs are basically the total opposite of March Madness. Whereas the college games are defined by their unpredictability, the top-ranked teams are practically always those left standing once the Conference Finals roll around. That makes what GSW did to Dallas all the more surprising.

Dallas came into the series at 67-15, the franchise’s best-ever record. They had NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and a career-high 3.4 assists. He set career-bests in field goal percentage (50.2), 3-point percentage (41.6) and shot 90 percent from the free throw line. He also was joined by another All-Star in Josh Howard.

On paper, the first-round series was an afterthought, merely a speed bump for Dallas on their road to the Conference Finals and beyond. The minute it tipped off though, everyone realized how competitive it was going to be. Dallas elected to play right into Golden State’s hands by going small, benching center Erick Dampier. But playing small couldn’t stop Baron Davis.

Davis had 33 in the first game and he was everywhere, draining threes, attacking the basket and playing very aggressive defense. Once the Warriors got the first win, you knew it was going to be a competitive series, but nobody expected what happened at Oracle Arena.

In front of a crazy home crowd the Warriors pushed their high-powered offense nearly to the breaking point. Using a deep bench and high-powered shooters Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson, the Warriors flew by Dallas in Game 3. Game 4 was more of the same, as Baron Davis dropped 33 and 8 assists in a win. The Warriors did all of this in front of a home crowd that looked like they belonged in a college gym. The crowd was 100 percent decked out in yellow and was so loud that TV stations brought out a decibel reader so that the audience at home could feel the energy. The Warriors ran right over Dallas, 111-86 in Game 6. Their breakneck tempo and unpredictable style was simply too much for the experienced Mavericks team. A series of NBA journeymen had come together and, by playing an ultra fast style, had knocked off the top-seed.

A team headlined by Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Matt Barnes had done the impossible, and became the first 8-seed to beat a 1-seed in the best-of-7 format.

The legendary Davis dunk came in the Conference Semifinals—a series the Warriors would lose to Utah, eventually. But it provided the highlight we’ll all remember from that incredible run from the “We Believe” team.

With the 2015 Playoffs less than 48 hours away, the top seeds still have to be leery of what could happen. It happened again in 2011, when the Memphis Grizzlies beat the top-ranked San Antonio Spurs, and in this era of unbelievable parity, especially in the Western Conference, it’s plausible that it could happen again.

Could Anthony Davis and the Pelicans catch lightning in a bottle in two weeks? Could we be in for another round of “We Believe” magic from another low seed—maybe Dallas, Brooklyn or Boston? Bottom line: Anything is possible. You gotta believe.

Just ask Baron Davis.

Russell Simon is an Editorial Intern at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter @RussSimonSays.