2017-18 NBA Journey: The Responsibility of Inevitability

The start of the 2017-18 NBA season for the majority of the league kicks off tonight. There will be scores of articles previewing teams by win-loss record, roster additions and subtractions and protected win total. There is also a feeling surrounding this season that we’re headed towards the inevitability of a Golden State Warriors championship. Thus, some of the fun is met with a bit of gloom. Cheer up, lover of hoops. Basketball is a sport in which the journey of the season is just as important as its destination in the Finals. Here at TSFJ, we’re going to highlight some things and people the basketball realm can be excited for between now and June.

I believe sustained dominance is a necessary part of sports. Contrary to popular belief, parity does not exist in its purest form in any team sport. Because of that, the irregularity of the major upset bears more impact. Teams like the New England Patriots, University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball and Alabama football have built empires that will continue winning, even as the players change. The noble ideal that everyone has a chance must exist alongside the need for an entity of dynastic greatness because kingdoms topple, and there must always be uprising and hope amongst anyone who is not Number One.

In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors sit atop the landscape. Participants of the last three Finals, winning two titles, the Warriors look poised to be the dynasty LeBron James has singularly been this entire decade. With every All-Star on their team under 30, and a brand of basketball that optimizes the whole and its parts on both ends, Golden State appears to be as close to flawless a unit as there’s ever been in the Association, including the great teams of yesteryear.

The difference between the two teams in this past Super Bowl is expectation. The Atlanta Falcons were not expected to be there, but the Patriots were, even as quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for the first quarter of the regular season. It is much, much harder to win when everyone expects–even demands–a team to do so.

That is the task in front of the Warriors. Inevitability has been in their shadow since after the franchise captured its first title in forty years back in 2015. Even as their record-shattering 2016 season ended with them on the wrong side of the impossible made possible, expectations rise to astronomical heights as a 73-win team signed Kevin Durant.

The basketball realm shifted from the hope-filled idea of ‘maybe somebody else’ to the melancholy fog of ‘probably nobody else’ will win the 2017 title. But the caveat here is that not only do the Warriors play nigh-perfect hoops, but it is beautiful and exciting to watch. They are a machine that function to the grooves of funk music – the Parliament Funkadelic influence in Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! album that you don’t notice or care to notice is decimating your favorite team with effortless rhythm. The Warriors are the ultimate Transformer: you know Optimus Prime is going to win, but you want to see how victory is achieved.

But there is a responsibility that comes with cloaking yourself in inevitability. Every key part needs to be healthy. One Durant or Curry leg injury cracks the plot armor in the story of another Warriors championship. Even if all characters survive the regular season, the team can’t have too much struggle. In the eyes of onlookers, Golden State losing to a middling Suns team at home or losing four out of six games means some form of disarray. They are not allowed missteps, ebbs, valleys and the like. Every game must be pretty and perfect, because if they’re going to be the best, then they must always be the best.

No one expects Golden State to win every game this season. Even the prettiest, most efficient form of basketball can lose to the efforts of one man galvanizing his squad. Other teams have assembled powerful forces in an effort to make the Warriors’ trek to the Larry O’Brien Trophy as difficult as they can.

We don’t believe anyone else can win the title. It’s up to the Golden State Warriors to prove us right.

Look for more NBA posts from yours truly every Tuesday as we journey through the 2017-18 season.

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