A week before the new NBA season was set to begin, the Warriors most polarizing player (Draymond Green) was portrayed as a team cancer and a team savior. Kevin Durant was told by Charles Barkley to just shut the hell up. The same Barkley also reminded the Warriors that they are still a jump shooting team so don’t get all proud of doing something special. The fans not in Oakland are gearing up for a long year of Warriors dominance, ratcheting up their own hate as they pack arenas the Warriors are visiting, preparing to boo them until their lungs fall out. In short, it’s business as usual.
Are the Warriors one of the most hated teams in recent memory? It seems like it but no. Erase the prisoner of the moment drunkenness. The number one spot on the list with no peer in sight is the Miami Heat 2010-11. Last I heard, the Warriors never held a presser with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant saying, “not one, not two, not three….[titles].” All the Warriors talk about is getting better as a team, and being prepared and developing chemistry. There is no title talk coming from inside even if it what they secretly think is: we gave a title away. It is all this outside chatter and noise and frankly it would be a moot issue if Kevin Durant hadn’t found himself in the middle of all of it.
One of the nicest men in the league, Kevin Durant committed the crime of dropping his old team for the prettier, shinier west coast version. To fans it took on the moral crime of leaving his wife for his mistress. That in itself is bad enough but he wasn’t even polite about how he cut ties. No personal phone calls, no thank yous. Just text messages and mic drop. Now he is saying he and Russell Westbrook were professional friends only. I know he means well but Barkley has a point. If you are happy in Oakland, be happy. Don’t try to make it better. Don’t try to have it both ways. You can’t. You screwed OKC. Accept it.
The Warriors won’t win 73 games and why would they want to? They set a record and then were the first team to lose a NBA Finals when they were up 3-1. The Warriors have not yet figured out a way to stop LeBron James and so their coronation isn’t perfect. They do have flaws. They gutted the glue of their team and now hope that Zaza Pahculia and David West and JaVale McGhee can fill in the appropriate holes. Their defense on the perimeter has been known to struggle with iso scorers.
But, the haters aren’t taking it far enough where roster construction, weakness and strategy are equal parts responsible. It is the privilege that the Warriors represent. The rich getting richer and more arrogant. It is about adding Kevin Durant and making it a not fair fight. It’s about playing a style very few in the league can master and therefore very few in the league can match or stop. It is the face of the league Steph Curry getting a pass from the media where other players would get a lot of vitriol and animosity. It is this idea that the Warriors get special treatment, that they never do anything wrong and everything they do is shoved down everyone’s throat.
It happens when you are good. Envy is the consequence. It spirals into collective spite. Even the GM’s hopes it will fail. The fans hope it will fail. Some NBA’ers hope it will fail. The Warriors and their fans are on an island. They don’t have to disprove a negative. It’s all positive in Oakland.
Even if it’s negative everywhere else.
photo via llananba