The assignment: Establish the top athletes who graced the Bay Area’s pitches, gridirons, diamonds, hardwood and ice during the soon-to-be-defunct decade.
The focus is on what happened here from 2010 to 2019, inclusive. So while we could easily have four Warriors on this team, we will not. And while we love you Tim Lincecum, your Cy Young years were in 2008-09, and thus you don’t make the cut for our purposes.
Even without Lincecum’s considerable star power and popularity, we still have an embarrassment of riches from which to cull. We had six victory parades in the Bay this decade, and could’ve had a couple more. So we’re going to have ourselves some fun calling roll call for these athletic geniuses (in descending order). And we start with:
Danville’s own spent the entire decade with the Earthquakes, collecting 152 goals and three scoring titles, playing in five All-Star MLS matches and being voted the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2012.
As the end of the decade came into view, his productivity was waning. But Wondo turned back the clock on May 18 with a sensational four-goal barrage against Chicago that pushed him past Landon Donovan’s 145 to the top of the MLS career scoring list.
Khalil Mack (2014-17 Raiders)
The Raiders used to bill themselves as the team of the decades. It is unlikely this decade will be fondly remembered. But the Raiders did produce one masterstroke. In the first round of the 2014 draft, they selected linebacker/wrecking ball Khalil Mack. He was a Raider for only four years, but what a resume he left behind.
You like stats? Mack had 40.5 sacks in his 64 games as a Raider. He forced nine fumbles and recovered four others. He had one interception, 84 quarterback hits and 68 tackles for loss.
Patrick Willis (2010-14 49ers)
A first-round pick by the 49ers in 2007, Patrick Willis showed up for his first practice with the skills and presence of a 10-year veteran. He was first-team All-Pro as a rookie. But remember our mission statement: We’re focused in the decade 2010-19. So was Willis. During his final five seasons with the 49ers, he was voted All-Pro three more times, while being voted to the Pro Bowl four times.
Kevin Durant (2016-19 Warriors)
The Warriors were coming off a 73-win season and a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant had cemented his status as an elite scorer in nine seasons with Oklahoma City.
Buster Posey (2010-19 Giants)
It’s difficult to believe now that when the Giants promoted Buster Posey to the majors in May 2010, they weren’t sure if he would stick.
He stuck. He became the starting catcher. He was an invaluable contributor as the Giants won the season’s final game to clinch the division, beat the Braves and Phillies to reach the World Series, and captured the Giants’ first World Series title in 56 years.
Madison Bumgarner (2010-19 Giants)
Tim Lincecum was the pitching headliner (5-1, 2.43) during the Giants’ 2010 postseason championship run. In 2012 Matt Cain was the horse (3-2, 3.60, seven strong innings in World Series Game 7).
In 2014 Madison Bumgarner rewrote the working definition of the postseason ace, pitching a shutout in the play-in game, and closing out the World Series with five scoreless innings on two days’ rest.
For the 2014 postseason he was 6-1, with a miserly 1.03 ERA. He tied batters and historians in knots trying to figure out what he had done and how he did it. In the World Series, he pitched 21 innings (including a five-inning save in Game 7), and gave up just a single run, in the seventh inning of Game 1, when the Giants led 7-0.
Stephen Curry (2010-19 Warriors)
In June 2010, Warriors fans were conditioned to failure and ineptitude. You couldn’t call them cynical – they filled Oracle Arena too often to hang that label on them.
Thus, the drafting of Stephen Curry did not occasion much fanfare. Certainly no proclamations of “This is our time!” that Don Nelson made after acquiring Chris Webber.
Little did the team’s fans know:
Curry, once past his ankle miseries; would mesmerize with his shooting; would, in fact, change the game by dragging it farther beyond the 3-point line than most thought advisable. He would team with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Steve Kerr in a holy alliance.