The Golden State Warriors were the NBA’s golden child. They didn’t buy a single superstar, they rose from the ground up through the draft and finally won their first title in 40 years thanks to Steve Kerr tapping into their strengths and putting the team concept above everything else.
Kerr knew a thing or two about sharing and winning. He was “just a guy” on Bulls and Spurs teams that won titles, and he was best known for hitting open shots or setting up others in a team friendly system. Yeah, this comes from a guy who watched Michael Jordan hoist 30 shots a game for much of his career, but the foundation, nevertheless, was most certainly there.
How or why the Warriors went from bad to meh to amazing isn’t on trial here, of course. They weren’t good, they got good and now they’re hoping to play in a third straight NBA Finals series. The oddsmakers suggest they will, too, as they currently boast -125 NBA Finals odds over at Bovada – and that’s to actually win. It’s hard to argue with that logic, either, seeing as the Dubs were one win away from repeating with a hobble Stephen Curry last year and now they added elite scorer, Kevin Durant.
But the latter adds fuel to a raging fire of hate for the once beloved Warriors. They quickly went from a nothing team, to one we pulled for and now to one we hate. But why? Let’s journey through the many standing reasons and see if we can’t debunk that negative take with some good old fashioned logic:
They’re So Smug
This one has some legitimacy to it, as the Dubs have noted in the media countless times that they feel they’ve been disrespected. They aren’t necessarily the humblest of groups, but this is absolutely a two-sided argument. Golden State didn’t get here by being a bunch of cry babies or jerks. They grinded their way to the top and even after winning the title two years ago, people still said they were lucky.
LeBron James said they were the most “fortunate” team he’d ever seen for being so healthy. Kyrie Irving suggested the Cavs would have never lost the first time if he had been healthy. And Doc Rivers noted Golden State’s first title trip came against teams who were without their top point guard.
James is right, but that doesn’t take away from a title. Irving may have been right and he sort of proved that last year, but then again, what happened happened: Golden State beat the Cavaliers the first time around and going back and mulling over what could have been is a waste of time. Rivers is just mad because his Clippers are never healthy anymore and the Clips and Dubs are rivals.
Also, what top level NBA teams aren’t at least a little smug, cocky or confident? Okay, maybe aside of the Spurs. Look at the Warriors, Clippers, Cavs, OKC and any other top contender. They all have a way about them, as if they know they’re among the best. It’s because they are and to be there, you kind of have to carry yourself in that fashion.
KD is Weak
Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Only LeBron James can ditch his team to go join a better built team to chase a title. Hating on Durant right away is a double standard – as is suggesting KD hasn’t taken enough heat for his move.
For one, he’s actually taken a ton of heat. It’s arguable by comparison he’s taken too much, too. James was ripped apart for leaving Cleveland for two massive reasons: he televised The Decision and he bolted from his hometown Cavs. Everyone in Cleveland hated him for it and by default, so did most of the NBA.
Even with that being the case, no one can fault James for going to South Beach to mature as a man/player, learn how to win and then return home to do the same with the Cavs. It all worked out in the end, and the situations are very different. Durant merely saw the writing on the wall, that there was no beating the Warriors. He had his best chance ever with a 3-1 Western Conference Finals series lead and OKC still couldn’t close the deal.
Durant was right to bolt. He’s in a better situation, he doesn’t have to worry about Russell Westbrook being reckless late in games and he knows fully that he’s on the best team in his conference – maybe even the best team in the league.
Many will point to an older era not leaving teams to go chase for titles. That’s fair to an extent, but they also didn’t really have to. Most of them got paid a ton of money to stick where they were, while guys like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson actually were drafted into amazing situations where their teams were already regular winners.
Then you have guys like Charles Barkley who suggest Durant is weak for the move, yet he chased titles late in his career, much the same.
The reality is, Durant was a free agent and he wanted to win. He owes nothing to OKC or anyone affiliated with the team. They didn’t put him in good enough position to win a title, so he went where he felt he could get over the hump. If he’s wrong, maybe we can chastise him for it. But if he’s right, how was that weak?
They Bought This Team
Actually, they didn’t. They made an in retrospect genius trade for Andre Iguodala years ago and signing KD was their lone big superstar signing. They had traded for Andrew Bogut years ago, too, while their best players – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – were all obtained through the draft.
The modern day Boston Celtics bought their title by trading for Kevin Garnett and signing Ray Allen. The Miami Heat paid for their title by signing James and Chris Bosh. The Cavaliers even paid for their most recent title by trading for Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, as well as bringing back James after he left the Heat. Golden State, however, actually rose to their first title with no superstar help.
They Set Moving Screens
Yeah, they do. In the vain of the freaking New England Patriots, the Dubs set screens like crazy and they do it very well. Their moving screens can be vicious body blows and most of the time they’re not legal. But this isn’t a reason to hate the Warriors.
Hating the Warriors for setting illegal screens that aren’t called is like being mad when Dwyane Wade never gets called for traveling or because James Harden flails his body through the paint and always gets a foul called. That is on the referees. In a superstar (and super team) league, the best players and teams get the calls, as well as the benefit of the doubt.
Oh, and screening is a pretty universal tactic to get shooters open and create space. The assumption that the Warriors are the only team who do this is an absolute joke.
Curry Isn’t the Real MVP
Maybe, maybe not. Some think it should have been LeBron James last year. He sure as heck does.
But the numbers game is the real story here and there are two massive criteria you need: you need to be the most crucial player for your team and you need to have amazing numbers. James certainly has the first part down, but were his numbers as good as Curry’s the past two years? No, and it wasn’t even close.
The MVP award isn’t the “who is the best talent in the league” award. It’s not the LeBron James award, either. If James thinks he’s God’s gift to basketball, that’s fine. But the idea that he should win the MVP every single year just because he continues to exit is not just silly, but it’s beyond egotistical.
That’s why statistics, team records and other criteria go into this thing: because if we just voted on who is the best player today, the same guy would usually win every year.
Curry was last year’s MVP. He shot over 50% from the floor, 45% from long range, 90% from the charity stripe and put up 30 points per game while helping the Dubs win 73 games. Even a hint of disbelief that he wasn’t the league MVP is just ridiculous.
They Win Too Much
So beat them. The Warriors shouldn’t and won’t apologize for working hard and quickly becoming one of the best teams we’ve seen in a long time. They’ve adapted their style to a changing league and while the NBA has slowly caught up with them, they adapted again by refurbishing their roster.
Golden State is an excellent team and excellent teams win games. Even if we’re Clippers fans, we need to be able to respect and appreciate where they’ve come from and where they’re going.
They Already Won Their Title
Tell that to the Celtics, Lakers or Bulls. One title does not quench the thirst, nor should it. Few sports expose the ego as well as pro basketball, and there’s no doubt every top notch NBA player works to better himself so he can best the next guy every single year.
The Dubs did finally win again after 40 years of not winning, but you don’t just stop wanting it after ending a drought like that. In fact, knowing how hard it was to get back to this point only makes you want to take hold of your talent and opportunity now. Golden State wasn’t able to do that last year, which means they’ll be back hungrier than ever going into the 2016-17 NBA season.
We can’t hold that desire against them.
Poor Mark Jackson
If we leave out any reasons people hate the Warriors, forgive us. One of the biggest ones seems to be that Golden State cast former head coach Mark Jackson aside for Steve Kerr. It’s at least a little brutal, seeing as Kerr steppe right in and took a team Jackson got to the playoffs, and turned around and won a title with that same group.
The problem is, Jackson wasn’t getting the most out of Golden State and Kerr did. You needn’t feel bad for Jackson. He got his weird revenge when he analyzed the NBA Finals live on TV. You could hear the laughter and double middle fingers every time he spoke.
But really, Mark Jackson was a decent coach, as he preached team basketball and defense. But the Dubs were more than a team that shared the ball and gave full effort on defense. They were an explosive, unstoppable unit that merely needed to be tapped into. Kerr succeeded where Jackson failed and ultimately that switch was the right call.
Got more reasons people hate the Warriors that we missed and deserve to be discussed? Want to touch on some of the points we jotted down? Feel free to jump into the discussion in the comments below!