The Philadelphia Warriors won the first championship of the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the forerunner of the NBA, in 1947 with a team that featured high-scoring guard Joe Fulks. In 1956 the Warriors won their first NBA title, sparked by future Hall of Fame members Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston. A second NBA title came in 1975 behind the high-scoring trio of Rick Barry, Clifford Ray, and Jamaal Wilkes. While playing for the Warriors in 1962, basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain set an NBA single-game record by scoring 100 points.
The Philadelphia Warriors were one of the 11 charter teams of the BAA in 1946. With basketball promoter Eddie Gottlieb serving as owner, general manager, and head coach, the team won the leagues first championship in 1947, defeating the Chicago Stags. The Warriors Jumpin Joe Fulks, a guard/forward, won the leagues scoring title that year, averaging 23.2 points per contest. A year later the Warriors returned to the league championship but lost to the Baltimore Bullets.
Gottlieb was influential in organizing the NBA, and the Warriors were among its charter members in the 1949-50 season. In 1951 the club won the Eastern Division title behind Fulks, guard/forward Paul Arizin, and guard Andy Phillip but were upset in the playoffs and failed to capture the league crown. The Warriors won the league crown in 1956, led by Arizin (24.1 points per game) and center Neil Johnston (22.1), two of the leagues top scorers. The 1956 championship team also featured All-Star guard Jack George and rookie guard Tom Gola.
Center Wilt Chamberlain, a Philadelphia native, arrived for the 1959-60 season and won NBA rookie of the year and most valuable player (MVP) honors that season, as well as the first of his seven consecutive scoring titles. The matchup of Chamberlain and center Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, also in the Eastern Division, became one of professional basketballs most celebrated rivalries. While playing against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, Chamberlain scored 100 points.
The Warriors relocated to San Francisco, California, in 1962, after Gottlieb sold the club to a group of investors. With Chamberlain, guard Guy Rogers, and center Nate Thurman, the San Francisco Warriors won the Western Division in 1964 before falling to the Celtics in the NBA Finals. The next season the Warriors traded Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers and finished poorly. Sharp-shooting rookie guard Rick Barry joined the club in the 1965-66 season and led the league in scoring, averaging 35.6 points per game. That season the Warriors again won the Western Division, but they were defeated in the NBA Finals by their former star Chamberlain and the 76ers.
Barry moved to the rival American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967, and Warriors attendance declined through the late 1960s. In 1971 the team moved to Oakland and took the name Golden State Warriors. Barry rejoined the Warriors in the 1972-73 season, and in 1975 the Warriors won the Western Conference championship with Barry, rookie forward Jamaal Wilkes, and center Clifford Ray. The trio of stars was guided by head coach Alvin Attles, who emphasized a team-oriented strategy. In the NBA Finals the Warriors defeated the Washington Bullets in an upset for the NBA crown.
Through the remainder of the 1970s and the 1980s the Warriors failed to advance past the first round of the NBA playoffs. Led by head coach Don Nelson, the team put together a fast-paced attack in the late 1980s and early 1990s, spurred by high-scoring guards Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond and forward Chris Mullen. In 1989 guard Sarunas Marciulionis joined the Warriors as the first NBA player from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Forward Chris Webber emerged as an NBA standout during the 1993-94 season. In the mid-1990s many of the teams stars left the Warriors, and injuries plagued the new starting lineup. The team remained at the bottom of the Western Conference during the mid-1990s.