July 9, 2016, 5:28 pm
One Big Thing: Will anyone beat the Warriors?
So that’s pretty big.
Kevin Durant to the Warriors is unreal. I was speaking to some people who tried to compare this to LeBron James joining the Heat back in 2010, but I think this could be much, much bigger.
LeBron joined a good Heat squad but was the accelerant that pushed them to the top. Golden State is basically already there. Even though they came up one game short of the ultimate goal, the Warriors are either at the top of the heap or just a hair below it. The 73 win regular season loses some of its luster without the title, but make no mistake: this team was built to win multiple championships without Kevin Durant.
This is like adding Superman to The Avengers. It’s almost overkill.
The Warriors have instantly become overwhelming favorites to win everything possible next season. It almost feels as though winning 73 or less will be a letdown considering the sheer star power they’ve managed to assemble.
In some ways it seems like this was meant to happen. By all accounts, Durant would’ve been turned off by the wrong vibes in any of his recruiting meetings. The Warriors were long viewed as the only serious challengers to Oklahoma City’s claim on the superstar; Durant was after championships and nobody else out there could offer a situation nearly as enticing.
Durant was supposed to team with Russell Westbrook and provide a Warriors foil. They were the team on the rise who came so very close to getting the job done. He was meant to stick with the only organization he’s ever known to try and climb the mountain.
The fact that Golden State could walk that tightrope and woo KD westward speaks volumes. They busted out their best speeches and their VR headset and got their guy. Durant wasn’t supposed to leave OKC, but if anyone could pull it off it just had to be these guys.
I referred to them as the Monstars because this seems too good to be true. The Monstars, if you remember, for all their supernatural and freakish abilities, lose at the end of Space Jam. It’s not going to be the stuff of our dreams right off the bat. It’ll take some time to get everything in place, but they’ll still win a bunch while they figure it out.
I’m not going to pick someone else to win the championship while Durant is in The City, but there’s a certain sense of impending disappointment. The theoretical fit here is tremendous and the skillsets of Durant and the rest of the Warriors mesh impeccably on paper, but the NBA season is filled with so much variance that it’s hard to bank on anything.
One thing I will bank on is the basketball world turning on Golden State.
There was something fun about The Splash Brothers knowing the ultimate cheat code and unleashing a three point barrage that’s impossible to defend. It was fun watching Draymond Green go from unheralded big man to game-changing force. It was special to watch pesky Golden State work their way to the top; a refreshing change from the usual faces that this generation of NBA fans had seen.
For the majority of the past few seasons, Steph Curry has awakened a sleeping part of the basketball consciousness that called for pure, unbridled joy. There’s something that’s deeply entertaining about watching this sprightly kid who was counted out by so many experts show up and do things we’ve never seen before. The entire court is a viable pull up spot for him, and his good shots are tries that get other people yanked off the court by the ear. Point being, you know how good Steph is. How much fun he is.
The media was searching for someone to oppose LeBron James, at that time the game’s preeminent villain, and Curry was the chosen one.
Steph was the everyman; the one who normal kids should look up to. After all, you might grow up to be 6’3” and 190 pounds- just work on your dribbling and shooting and who knows. 6’8” and 250 calls for the genetic jackpot. You will not grow into LeBron’s frame. Plus, Curry carried himself well; he has a postcard quality family and has stayed out of trouble. LeBron was an active participant in that Decision fiasco and was the guy who spurned his own hometown for a shot at glory; he left home because he couldn’t get it done without help. Those arguments were obviously deeply flawed but for a decent stretch of time, LeBron James was deeply unlikable to the bulk of the basketball populous.
With success comes haters, but Golden State has been telegraphing the heel turn for quite some time.
They began without a ‘true superstar’ but have waltzed their way into having four. Their presence became pervasive and there’s no surer way to make people hate you than by simply being on TV, the radio, Twitter and anywhere else you can think of for every waking second.
The ‘light years ahead’ comments from owner Joe Lacob didn’t do the team any favors. It’s fitting that a sneakily arrogant team on the court is funded by a man willing to talk down the rest of the league. Draymond Green’s limbs became groin-seeking missiles and his trash talk began to rub people the wrong way.
Once Steph’s ridiculous threes became commonplace people started to notice the shimmying and shaking that goes down before the ball goes in. They’re slowly realizing that he’s far from the normal kid who grew into something special. He’s the son of an NBA player who grew up privileged with his own set of unattainable talents. He’s not the underdog that we wanted, though his size deceived us for a while. LeBron was the one who overcame odds as a kid. He’s the one who returned home and delivered on his promise, bringing glory to his long-suffering state. Public perception is swinging away from Curry and back to the King.
The Warriors are still tons of fun to watch. There’s just a lot of people out there who want to see them lose. A lot of it is driven by jealousy, but it’s hard to fault people who want to be rid of these Warriors. Sick of Curry, sick of Oracle, ready for some fresh faces among the league’s elite.
The most intriguing part of the equation is, of course, Kevin Durant.