By now, NBA season previews are rolling out. Countless basketball sites, podcasts, and television shows are breaking down all 30 teams; projecting how each will fare based on additions and subtractions. I would like to do something different and focus on teams through the fish-eyed lens of their respective most-intriguing player or players. I continue with the Golden State Warriors.
It happened. No matter how many claims that are made that the better team didn't win last year's title, it happened. Despite winning eight of every nine regular season games and having the best record in the history of the league, it happened. Despite record-breaking threes, game-winning threes and a tour of disrespect that lasted for over one hundred games, it still happened. The Golden State Warriors lost the NBA Finals after being ahead three games to one in the series. No matter how many jokes, rehashing of jokes, memes and repeating of that fact, it is still amazing to me.
I could list the reasons why Cleveland beat them. I could even validate Charles Barkley's claim that jump shooting teams don't win titles. But I will not. This "What's Next?" series is about moving forward.
The Warriors signed prized free agent Kevin Durant away from the Oklahoma City Thunder. This move sparked the use of the term, "Superteam," a buzz word that has long since been exhausted by the media. Durant becomes the team's best player, and there will be an adjustment period with this team that already had enough chemistry to win 73 regular season games. Durant is the most lethal assassin and joins a team with a couple of them. It's as if Batman gave in to the vengeance in his heart and joined the League of Shadows and sought to purge the world of the helplessly inferior people he once swore to protect.
Because of this move, the once-lovable Durant and the Warriors are now seen as villains. They go from getting every team's best shot because they're the best team to some opponents meeting them with additional vitriol because they're viewed as unfair. Damian Lillard, who hasn't lost enough games yet, believes he'd "never" join up with other great players.
This idea that great players must pay dues by themselves as a way to deserve championships is asinine. Winning a championship, regardless if a team is by far the most talented, is incredibly difficult. As much as we want to guarantee a Warriors title, we can't. By January of last season, we had already done that. And we know how the Finals ended. We are hypocrites. We only respect the uncertainty of sports until a team is "too" good. But simultaneously, we crave somebody or some team to make us dislike them because they're tough to beat. It's not even a matter of jealousy. Fans, short for fanatics, are just irrationally wired that way.
In no other occupation would we criticize amazingly special workers for wanting to find and work with the best group of co-workers possible. There are plenty of us who move on to better companies because of both money and quality teammates. Kevin Durant is no different. Yes, he went to the team he was one game from eliminating. But that is not that immoral a decision as we're making it.
If we believe the Warriors will not go undefeated, then why is it implausible to believe this team can lose four times in seven games? Yes, it is improbable. But last year was also improbable, but it happened. Sometimes, being a part of history is embarrassing. The Universe is about balance. For every 73 regular season wins, there is a blown 3-1 lead.
The Warriors, if possible, will be more fun to watch than last year. They've shown they can handle being the hunted, and now they're the biggest piece of game around. They're already off to a questionable start, but I'm sure they'll figure it out enough for most of us to despise how wonderful that make basketball look. But however this season ends--however many points they score this year--they still have up a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.