By In Stuff

The Warriors as modern art

This entire NBA season has been modern art. That, I think, is why people have such different and ferocious views about it. Modern art is meant to evoke strong feelings, even if those feelings are sometimes best articulated with: “Come on, that’s not ART. How can you call that art?”

The Golden State Warriors are that most modern work of art.

Let’s stop with the suspended disbelief; we all knew the Warriors were going to the win NBA title this year. We knew it the way we know that James Bond will win, that Batman will not be killed, that Meryl Streep will get the Oscar nomination, that Republicans will vote one way and Democrats another. We like to play around with such certainties because we enjoy drama and like surprises, especially in our sports. But we knew. The Golden State Warriors were the best team on planet earth last year. They breezed to an NBA record 73 wins, they made a record 150 more three-pointers than any team ever, they scored more points than any team since the league got serious about defense.

Then in the NBA Finals, they were beaten by exhaustion, a fit of arrogance and, most of all, the sheer will of the world’s greatest basketball player, LeBron James.

That’s when they added the perhaps the world’s second-greatest player, Kevin Durant.

Yes, of course, we knew they would win it all. The various “Will Steph Curry and KD gel?” and “Does Klay Thompson feel left out?” and “Will Draymond Green’s rage bring down the Warriors” and “Don’t discount Houston!” and “San Antonio could be their kryptonite” and “Never underestimate the greatness of LeBron” stories were dutifully written because otherwise there would have been nothing to write other than hosannas and paeans. But these stories, like the millions of trade rumor stories for trades that never happen and constant predictions that politicians will do something unexpected, were smoke … empty, vaporous and they disappeared without a trace.

And we knew it. Of course, we knew it. Things could have happened, sure, injuries or some other Rube Goldberg series of mishaps. In the Simpsons episode “Homer at the Bat,” Mr. Burns puts together an all-star company softball team with Major League stars at every position to win a million dollar bet. The day before the game, he considers his chances.

“There’s no way I can lose this bet,” slayedhe says. “Unless, of course, my nine all-stars fall victim to nine separate misfortunes and are unable to play tomorrow. But that will never happen. Three misfortunes, that’s possible. Seven misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. But nine misfortunes? I’d like to see that!”

So it was with the 2016-17 Warriors. Three misfortunes, that’s possible. Seven misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. They had a few bumps along the way; KD himself suffered a knee injury, leaving Golden State looking vulnerable. There were occasional signs of distress.

Then the games started to matter and, well, the Warriors have lost one time since mid-March, one time. Even that was the pointless penultimate game of the regular season when they sleepwalked through the last six minutes of a game against Utah with all of their starters on the bench.

They are 15-0 in the playoffs, of course, and have won by an average of 16 points per game. True, San Antonio had the horrible break of losing Kawhi Leonard, so that series would have likely been much more competitive. Still, the Warriors breezed there and beat Cleveland by 22 and 19 in the first two games.

Then came Wednesday.

It’s rare that you can tell the story of a game through the simple plus/minus statistic, but …

Cleveland

Kyrie Irving, 44:23 minutes, minus-9

Kevin Love, 37:16, minus-11

Tristan Thompson, 23:05, minus-6

LeBron James, 45:37, plus-7

The Warriors won by five, and it’s hard to even see how this math works. Somehow, some way, in the two minutes and 23 seconds that LeBron James was not on the floor, Golden State scored TWELVE MORE POINTS than the Cavaliers.

Over a full 48 minutes, this suggests the Warriors would beat a LeBron-less Cavaliers by 225 points.

This was one of the stranger games I can remember in this way: In the fourth quarter, it seemed like Cleveland made about 593 “OK, that’s the ballgame” shots. I kept looking over at the score expecting it show the Cavaliers up by 11 or nine or 15 or something kind of safe. And each time it seemed like the Warriors were always six points closer than I expected.

When J.R. Smith made a three-pointer off a glorious pass from James with 3:09 left, it seemed like finally the Cavalier had slain the dragon. The scoreboard showed, though, that Cleveland led by just six, 113-107. That was a huge disappointment, it sure seemed like more. The Cavaliers did not score again. Kevin Love missed a bunny. Kyrie Irving, who could make a driving layup in a war zone, missed a driving layup. James missed a fadeaway. And then came a bunch of missed three-pointers and the inevitable Kevin Durant shot through the heart.

We knew this. We knew it the day that Kevin Durant joined up with the greatest team in the league. Superteams are as old as the NBA. It’s laughable to hear people talk about how LeBron James started this whole thing when he took his talents to South Beach. Yes, maybe James had transferred some of the superteam power to the players themselves, but this has always happened.

In 1956, the Boston Celtics had Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, both future Hall of Famers. Then, in rapid order, Red Auerbach traded for Bill Russell (the greatest team player of them all), brought back Frank Ramsey, bought Clyde Lovellette, drafted Tommy Heinsohn, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones and John Havlicek. All of them, every one, are Hall of Famers. That’s how you win eight championships in a row.

The Lakers were never able to overcome those Celtics, despite having a couple of the best players ever in Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, and so they started building superteams, bringing in Wilt Chamberlain, trading for Kareem, somehow loading up on other teams’ first overall picks so they could get Magic Johnson and James Worthy, putting together Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Yes, the quest for the superteam is as old as sports, certainly as old as the NBA, but it felt different when LeBron himself did it, and very different when an in-his-prime Kevin Durant joined what was already a superteam. He still takes a beating for it, even though this too is an old story with great players often hooking up with great teams in order to win a championship (see: Barkley, Charles; Malone, Karl; Malone, Moses; Nash, Steve, etc).

But no matter how anyone felt about Durant’s personal decision, we all knew what it meant. All of which brings us back to modern art. The Warriors play basketball like no team we have ever seen. We can argue for the legacy of Jordan Bulls or Magic’s Lakers or the best of the Tim Duncan Spurs or any other team, but we cannot deny that this team is fundamentally different from those teams. No team has ever blended three-point shooting with breathtaking passes with pounding defense with jaw-dropping plays like this team.

And where does that leave us? The season has been a snooze when it comes to drama. There was never really a point where the inevitable ending was even threatened. The playoffs have been ludicrously one-sided. The Cavaliers lost one game before the Finals when they took their eye off the ball for few minutes against Boston. Golden State lost none. And Golden State has now taken this Cleveland series away too.

And yet there’s this: We are watching basketball played at such great heights. The Warriors are so laughably good that five or six times a game you just shake your head and marvel. It is like watching the Globetrotters — no, it is like watching the Globetrotters as we imagined them as children, when we believed them to be the best team in the world, when we thought they could run that weave and do all those behind-the-back tricks against any team, even Bird’s Celtics or Kareem’s Lakers or the Doctor’s Sixers.

Is that kind of modern art enough for us? The ratings say so: These are the highest in 20 years, since Jordan played. On Wednesday, Michelle Beadle asked NBA commissioner Adam Silver about the lack of parity in the NBA, and he had a thoroughly prepared answer about how it’s too early to talk about that and how it disrespects great players around the league to say they have no chance and all that other public relations stuff.

But I couldn’t help but think he should have said: “Have you ever seen basketball played like this before? Did you see that Steph Curry shot? Did you watch as even LeBron James flailed against the awesomeness of Kevin Durant? Did you see Klay Thompson take over? I mean, seriously: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

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54 Responses to The Warriors as modern art

  1. Johnny P says:

    Regardless of how good the Warriors are, I still don’t think it’s good for basketball that the vast majority of fan bases know their team has absolutely no shot of winning the championship.

    • Patrick says:

      Yeah.

      I’m a big fan of D-III football, and this has been an ongoing problem for the last 20 years or so. I mean, obviously, with 200+ teams, a vast majority have no shot, but often now, we’re looking at ranked teams just being fodder.

      In 2014, for example, the 19th ranked team lost 69-0 in the playoffs, the 18th ranked team lost 55-24, the 13th ranked team lost 38-14, the 11th ranked team lost 45-7, the 8th ranked team lost 41-13, and the 4th ranked team lost 70-21. All of which gave us the same two teams in the title game for the 7th year in a row. A largely awful season

  2. invitro says:

    “lack of parity in the NBA” — The last nine finals have had seven different champions. It’s really rich to be asking about parity in this era of the NBA. There may not be absolute parity right now, but there was for about a decade, probably the period with the most parity in NBA history other than the 1970’s. If GSW/CLE are the next three champs after this one, then you can ask about parity. 🙂

    • Patrick says:

      But I think you could just as easily construe it as: Three teams from the West have won 16 of the past 19 conference titles, and the team LeBron has played on has made seven straight finals. I also think you final sentence plays a role in the perception too. Cleveland and Golden State had such dominant runs, why shouldn’t we expect the same thing the next few years?

      • invitro says:

        Yes, good points. But if someone wants the NBA to be in a position where every team, or even most teams, have a realistic shot at a championship every season, well that’s never been the case and probably never will. This is because skill wins out in the NBA in much fewer games than in, say, MLB, and sudden superstars are fairly rare (IMO). I think having four or five teams with a realistic shot to win an NBA conference is pretty great.

        It may be likely that Cleveland and (especially) GS make the next three finals, but sports is notoriously unpredictable, even the NBA, so I think it’s better to wait until it actually happens before sounding the gongs of doom.

        And while I’m with most of you guys in favoring parity (disclosure: I haven’t watched a single minute of the playoffs this year, the opposite of the last six years), the fans in general seem to have a clear preference for super-teams, as Joe’s fact on TV viewers illustrates. And just about everyone’s ideas of the best eras in NBA history are of the dynasties: the Lakers/Celtics of the 1980’s or the Bulls of the 1990’s. No one but me 🙂 calls the 1970’s or the last ten years a golden age. The point is: if this is true, why should what we want trump what the majority of the fans want? (Also: certainly having the dynasties be in relatively tiny Cleveland and Oakland is preferable to having them be in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago?)

    • Marc Schneider says:

      And that decade, the 70s, was one of the least popular in the history of the NBA.

  3. Bryan says:

    “Let’s stop with the suspended disbelief; we all knew the Warriors were going to the win NBA title this year.”
    *
    Congratulations on your massive gambling win. Since you knew the result you obviously secured a massive loan, bet it on the Warriors to win at the start of the finals and are now 1 win away from collecting 138% of the amount of money you bet, a huge rate of return for a single week. Let alone if you knew at the time Durant signed with the Warriors in which case you’re 1 win away from doubling your money, which is actually a much smaller rate of return to double your money in 11 months.
    *
    Then you follow the template of many journalists on July 21st, 1969 writing about how it was obvious since 1964 when British scientist Don Howle signed as a free agent with NASA forming a super-team that the Americans were going to win the space race. Sergei Korolev’s death in 1964, much like Kawhi Leonard’s injury in 2017, were minor footnotes to inevitable results.

    • invitro says:

      “Everything, in retrospect, is obvious.” — Michael Lewis

    • DjangoZ says:

      Exactly. Everyone didn’t know it would turn out this way.

      That the Warriors are “modern art” is the only way for a Cleveland fan to explain that they are losing and may get swept. Not that the Warriors drafted incredibly well, or that they have used the salary cap better than Cleveland or that they way they play is simply smarter. Naw, that would be giving the Warriors credit. Much better to dismiss them as a group of Gods who are ridiculous, who are Globetrotters.

      I’m a Twolves fan, but I can appreciate the intelligence of the Warriors organization and the way the players play together. I wish my team had the same sense of teamwork, the same drive to get better and the same coaching skill. If I’m lucky in 5 years maybe we’ll get close.

    • Darrel says:

      I think this little thread is entirely disingenuous. Yes this finals was entirely obvious to even the most casual of fan. Had I been able to get Lebron injury insurance I would have bet my house that this would be the finals match-up. There was no Eastern team that had even the slimmest of chance to beat the Cavs with a healthy Lebron. In the west, a healthy Leonard MIGHT have allowed the Spurs to win a game at home and lose in 5.

      Now none of this may matter much. The ratings are obviously high. The challenge is this. The NBA is the Least. Competitive. League. Ever. It always has been to a degree but the disparity is growing. This year there were 2 and half fan bases that came into the year believing their team had any chance(50% of spurs fans knew better)of winning a title. This is likely to become a problem, and already is in many cities, at the gate. Attendance is down in the mid 80% and high 70% range for some teams and you would expect that to get worse if those teams never have a chance to compete. Of course the league may not care at all about local attendance and may decide that TV is all that matters. I’d be concerned long term about small and mid-market cities whose team goes decades without being relevant tuning out on TV as well if I was them but perhaps the superteam phenomenon will continue to draw eyes no matter what.

      • invitro says:

        “small and mid-market cities whose team goes decades without being relevant” — You mean cities like Oakland and Cleveland? Or Oklahoma City, which didn’t have a team at all? 🙂

        • Luis says:

          GSW a small market team from Oakland, that’s rich! They MAY play in Oakland but this is a San Francisco team with the San Francisco benefits and dominated (funded) by San Francisco fans and sponsors.

          • invitro says:

            Fair enough. My point is undisturbed. 🙂

          • invitro says:

            Indeed, somehow I forgot about San Antonio, so just substitute them for Oakland, and my point is actually strengthened, so thanks! But to summarize, small-market teams have every possibility to be not just relevant, but long-term championship contenders. I can even a final four of San Antonio, Miami, Oklahoma City, and Indiana. But that was eons ago, so maybe the millenials aren’t aware of it… 😉

          • MikeN says:

            San Antonio counts as small market now?

          • invitro says:

            San Antonio is a very small market. This page (https://www.reddit.com/r/nba/comments/2a5k0p/nba_media_market_rankings/) puts them #27 of 30. That ancient final four I mentioned rank #19, 24, 27, and 28, making me wonder if the NBA is drastically tilted toward tiny-market teams… 😉

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Winning the space race wasn’t inevitable, but given the US’s much stronger industrial base, which enabled it to develop spacecraft to finer tolerances, that it was likely. Obviously, things could and did go wrong-the Apollo 1 fire, for example. But, considering the problems the Soviets had in simply getting cosmonauts back from space alive, it wasn’t too likely they would be able to land a man on the moon before the US. This isn’t chauvinism, but simple fact. Korolev’s death hurt the Soviets, but probably wasn’t decisive.

      • Bryan says:

        Right, Warriors are absolutely the favorite even with no Kawhi injury even if that means losing Game 1. Iverson and the 76ers beat the Lakers in Game 1 and then lose 4 straight. The 76ers and the Spurs are still underdogs but winning 3 of 6 games is certainly possible.
        *
        The easiest proof of this is that successful businesses were offering everyone the opportunity to make money if they guessed the Warriors would win the finals even after they were ahead 2-0, you would only make about $6 for every $100 you bet but a 6% rate of return in less than a week is an incredibly good investment, currently people purchase T-Bills which take about 5 years to return 6%.
        *
        LeSean McCoy “knew” the Warriors were going to win, he bet $200k on June 1st and barring the Cavs winning 4 straight will collect $262.5k after the series ends. Other people would be effectively capped at betting $20k, $2k or even $200 but if it’s a guarantee there is no reason not to place the bet and there is no reason Planet Hollywood would still be in business if the Warriors win the NBA title this year.
        *
        But it’s not a guarantee, it’s gambling and the trope of writers telling us things were obviously going to happen after they have occurred is far more predictable than the Warriors winning the title in 2017.

  4. Brent says:

    Lest we think that only the NBA builds Super teams, in 1998, the Yankees won 114 games, went 11-2 in the playoffs on their way to a WS title, and then signed the two time defending AL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens in the off-season. And, of course, they did win the next two WS and came within a whisker of yet another in 2001.

    • DjangoZ says:

      Bingo and that was in a non-salary cap league. The Warriors have done this in a cap league, making it all the more impressive.

      • Michael Williams says:

        KEY difference in the salary cap of the NBA: the max salary limit for INDIVIDUAL players. Without that restriction, theoretically bad teams with cap space could outbid good teams like Golden State for a player like Durant. When Durant can make essentially the same no matter where he plays, of course he will go to a winning team. If, for example, a poor team with cap room could offer a player like that 50% or even double that, talent might be more evenly distributed. Some players might chase rings – but some may be more mercenary in nature.

        • invitro says:

          I think this is a great point. Why should Durant have gone anywhere except to the Warriors (or Cavs)?

    • Aaron Ross says:

      And yet, the top HR hitter on the 1998 Yankees ranked 37th in the league. However, they did have 10 guys hit at least 10 home runs. That’s not an NBA-style superteam – that’s actually a well-constructed team. And the Yankees were not inevitable – the Red Sox gave them plenty of trouble year in and year out.

      In truth, the 2001 Diamondbacks were more on the NBA superteam model – without Johnson and Schilling, there is no way that they win.

      • Brent says:

        Super teams are a little different in MLB with 25 players on the roster, but that was a Super team. Their 4th outfielder is a HOFer. Their backup DH hit 30 HRs for the Royals the year before. The top 7 pitchers on their team had at least 2.4 bWAR (and yet they saw the need to upgrade and get Clemens)

  5. Chris says:

    Thank you for stating how the NBA has always been built around superteams. I made a similar comment on a Facebook post this morning. I threw Bird/Parrish/McHale/DJ in there, too. The championship is basically always won by a team of at least 3 superstars….that’s just how the NBA works.

    • invitro says:

      I don’t think anyone minds super teams. What bothers some people is when free agents go to the best team, and particularly when two or more collude to go to the best team, or a very good one. I’m not sure if this kind of team-building happened before LeBron’s Heat in the NBA. I suppose it happened with the Yankees around 1975-1977. I think most fans would prefer that super teams be built through drafts, player development, and trades. (FWIW, the free-agency-built teams don’t bother me, I think.)

      • Marc Schneider says:

        The problem with the NBA, IMO, is not so much super teams but how hard it is even to build good teams. Lots of teams (Wizards, Kings, Nets, Clippers, etc.) are or were bad for decades. The Warriors themselves were bad for a long time. In other sports, it doesn’t seem to take as long to build at least respectable teams. I don’t know why this is but the NBA seems the hardest to work. I assume a lot of it is poor management, but it just seems teams are down for a long time.

        • invitro says:

          I suppose I’m commenting too much again, but I have some thoughts :). I think most of the long-time losers in the NBA have or had really stupid, I mean literally stupid, people running their teams. The Knicks put Isiah Thomas in charge. The Clippers had Elgin Baylor as GM for 22 years. The Lakers’ management actively hates analytics (they came in dead last in ESPN’s rankings of analytic pro teams in all sports a few years ago, I think). The Nets have that Russian dude and Jay-Z running them, neither of whom know anything about basketball. The Kings have repeatedly signed players who sucked by current analytic stats, and dumped their best one or two coaches because Boogie Cousins didn’t like them. And on and on.

          I think analytics has effected the NBA more than any other sport. In particular, analytics made it obvious that the long 2-pointer was a bad shot for any player, and the 3-pointer should be shot more. But half or more than half of the teams reject those cold hard facts, and those are generally the ones that miss the playoffs year after year. And the teams that accept analytics and force their players to abide by its truths rise to the top. I think Golden State may be the franchise in pro sports the most all-in on analytics, unless it’s the Astros or Cubs. It works.

          Here’s a current example. Denver played Emmanuel Mudiay 30 minutes per game in his rookie season, and 26 mpg this season. Mudiay averaged 13-3-6 pts-reb-ast his rookie year, and 11-3-4 this season. So he’s an up and coming solid player, right? Wrong. Mudiay’s career two-point FG% is 39%, and his three-point FG% is 32%. He has -1.9 win shares, and -1.8 VORP. Denver would’ve made the playoffs this year if they hadn’t played Mudiay; with him, they missed by one game. A team with any kind of management at all would cut Mudiay, or at best give him about 2 minutes per game. But Denver makes him a starter (he was #4 in games started for Denver). These are the kinds of obvious mistakes that rotten franchises make.

          • Darrel says:

            The challenge is not the poorly run teams. Those exist in all sports. I mean sports are zero sum. For very win there is a loss. For every great team there must be a bad one. The problem, I see it as a problem but others may not, is that even the teams in the top quarter of the NBA have no chance. I’m not a huge NBA guy but as a Canadian the Raptors are my team of choice. They are a multiple time division champ who played in the ECF last year and made two big trade deadline acquisitions and had home court in the first round this year. They also had zero chance to beat the Cavs and were swept in the 2nd round.

            Every league will always have great, good, mediocre, and bad teams. When the 3rd to 6th best teams in the league cant even win a playoff game let alone a series against the top two then your league has gone awry in my opinion.

          • invitro says:

            If you feel that Toronto had no chance this year, I suppose it’s hard to argue against that. But what about last year? Would it have been realistic to think Toronto had a chance after they beat Cleveland by 15 in game 3 of the East finals, or after they won game 4 to tie it up 2-2? I don’t know, but if Toronto had a chance, shouldn’t it take more than one year of not-a-chance that any team other than CLE or GSW would make the finals to think there’s a problem? And certainly OKC had a chance last year… they did lead GSW 3-1 in the West finals.

          • Darrel says:

            Toronto had no chance last year. The Cavs got bored and Toronto ran some high energy home crowds to a couple of wins and then got blown out in game 5 and 6. Read the local stories about them and the talk is about blowing that team up and rebuilding for a time when Lebron is diminished or retired. Keep in mind this is a top 3 or 4 eastern conference team talking about having no chance and basically tanking for a rebuild.

      • DjangoZ says:

        The Warriors drafted their 3 best players (and not with #1 or #2 picks either) and only added one star via free agency.

        I get why it would bother fans, but I think the Warriors are pretty hard to be mad at. They’ve done most of this through skill and hard work.

      • rdb says:

        But why? Why do you prefer a super team built through the planning and execution of team front offices than ones built through the planning and execution of free-agent players?

        • invitro says:

          Good question… I guess fans might tend to find teams that won mostly because they had more money than another team to be distasteful. But of course there are all kinds of problems with that argument… 🙂

        • Aaron Ross says:

          When a team is built through drafts, trades, and FA signings, there is a sense that all teams are more or less on an equal footing and have the same opportunity to build such a team. The Sixers have had several top draft picks recently but have yet to emerge as a powerhouse; Sam Bowie gets picked before MJ; and so on and so on. When a team makes a trade, they take the risk that they will lose more than they gain.
          When players assemble the team themselves, there is a sense that they are going around the system and just coming together to get a ring. That’s part of the critique of KD this year – sure, he’ll get a ring, but would it mean the same as if he got one by sticking with OKC and lifting up his teammates? The best players are often said to make everyone around them better – is anyone on the Warriors better because of Durant? The Warriors, if not for Green’s dumb move last year, could realistically be the two-time champs. Durant’s presence is basically a hedge about any unforeseen circumstances derailing them this time.

          • MikeN says:

            Sam Bowie pick by the Portland Trail Blazers had the effect of taking Dallas Mavericks off the hook. They picked Sam Perkins and Terence Stansbury one pick before Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

    • Mike Schilling says:

      1975 Warriors — Rick Barry and a cast of thousands.

  6. Hamster Huey says:

    I was a Bulls fan in the 90s, and lived in the Bay Area for much of the 2000s. I rooted for the Dubs in the finals the past two years; also, separately, I like KD. But this year… this feels like it would have felt if Jordan had sprained his ankle in the ECF in 1996 (after the 72-10 year), Seattle had managed to squeak out that finals series, and then the Bulls signed Shaq for the next season. KD is that good, and in his prime. That’s why it’s hard to root for the Warriors, beautiful basketball or not, unless you were already a Dubs fan. Nobody did anything wrong here – not KD (he can sign anywhere he wants), not the Dubs (of course!!!! you sign him), but the end result feels undeniably icky.

    • invitro says:

      This kind of sentiment seems new to me… I thought everyone loved the Warriors! I certainly did and still do, and I’m not really a Warriors fan… they’re just so much fun to watch, both for athletic prowess, and because I think they play the (analytically) right way, as much so as any team ever has (except maybe some Spurs teams). I guess the general opinion soured on them after Durant signed?

      • Timothy says:

        your sentiment is new to me… i thought everyone hated the warriors! i certainly do. they are all goofy, nerdy, arrogant twats. no matter how well they play, it is incredible to me that even people in oakland can stand these guys.

        • Mr Fresh says:

          +1

          Whenever anyone says they love watching Curry because he plays with such joy.. it truly makes me want to vomit.

        • invitro says:

          But… nerdy and goofy is the best part!

        • Marc Schneider says:

          Why would they not like a team that has lost a total of 39 regular season games in 3 years and might go undefeated in the playoffs? I don’t care how arrogant they are (that’s not something I sense). I can understand non-fans not liking them, but I find it odd that you think their fans should not like them.

      • kehnn13 says:

        I love watching the Warriors play too.

        I’m not a huge fan of Lebron- one of his main modes of offense used to be called an offensive foul…

        • Marc Schneider says:

          And Michael Jordan used to travel all the time. And I’m sure Wilt Chamberlain did something wrong too. It’s amazing to me how many people dislike great players because, somehow that are contaminating this pure game of basketball.

          • MikeN says:

            I dislike LeBron because he faked some racist graffiti at his house for the publicity.

  7. Zeke Bob says:

    I recall mixed reactions to the 2004 Lakers, as that seemed a blatant attempt at ring chasing with convincing Karl Malone and Gary Payton to sign on for a year. Of course both were aging – it was Malone’s last year at 40 and he got hurt and Payton was 35 and beginning his downswing.

    Still, a lot of people thought it was kind of icky to see two iconic players from other teams that desperate for a ring they signed well below their previous salaries: Payton from 12.6M to 4.9M and Malone dropped from 19.2M to 1.5M.

    Of course, that was also the year of Kobe’s rape trial and Shaq’s last year with LA as he and Bryan openly feuded… may have reduced the effectiveness of the “super team.”

    I remember a lot of fans were glad the Pistons beat them in the finals though.

    For an interesting oral history of that team: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2468658-an-oral-history-of-the-2003-2004-los-angeles-lakers-the-first-super-team

  8. shagster says:

    Not much of an NBA fan. If professional sports, it seems to me so obvious that games are called a certain way to effect an outcome. See last years Finals. There isn’t a more perfect championship tournament in all of sports than March Madness.

    That said, last night was first time since 1990s where I was spellbound. Watching two teams play a level of basketball only hinted at since the Jordan Bulls Ewing Knicks battled at the Garden in the Eastern Conf finals. For first time in YEARS I didn’t want the game to end.

    I hope Cleveland picks up a piece in the offseason. I want to see these two teams go again.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Funny, I find March Madness so bloated and corrupt, being played by guys pretending to be college students at ostensible institutions of higher education that the only reason I like it is that the Final Four means it’s baseball season. But, then, I feel that way about college sports in general.

  9. MikeN says:

    A primary factor for the Warriors is that the salary cap took a very large boost in one year, making it easy to sign Kevin Durant. The NBA tried to smoothen out the increases, which would have required the Warriors to give up Iguodala to get KD. Even with that, their payroll could hit 300 million soon.

    This will sort itself out in the future, as the salary cap will likely go down because of ESPN’s loss of subscribers. Losing 20,000 a day who pay $100 a year, means that they won’t have the money to bid again.

    • MikeN says:

      Plus Curry was signed for cheap due to a leg injury.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      ON the other hand, with the NBA seemingly being an ascendant league, you might see more competition. Maybe one of the over-the-air networks decides that live NBA programming is worth spending the dollars. Or maybe FS-1 or one of the streaming channels. The NBA viewer demographics presumably will make it more attractive to others besides ESPN. More likely, the NBA would go on more formats and maybe make up the difference that way. Plus, even if ESPN can’t bid as much, it’s hard to see it simply dropping out entirely; it’s a sports channel after all.

  10. MikeN says:

    Modern art isn’t very beautiful.

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