I’ve been loathing this moment since April 23, 2015. At the time, I was still living in New Orleans. Game 3 of the Golden State-New Orleans 1st Round Series was on tap. Folks had been asking me if I was going to the game. My answer had been “nah, got wedding stuff to take care of.” That was half true and mostly a lie. I wanted no parts of that game because I knew how it would go. And walking out of that arena after losing to that team would’ve had me like this…
So I got on my couch and did the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I went to sleep. I had no clue the Pelicans had led most of the game. I had no clue Curry hit a corner 3 over the High Rise to send the game into to overtime. I had no clue that Golden State had ripped away “the new” NBA hope in New Orleans.
Golden State has not only been a great team since that 2014-2015 season but a historical one. This team’s rise was one that NBA folks always saw as a possibility. The team was built on smart moves. Like trading away then fan favorite Monta Ellis and riding with the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson). They smartly decided not to trade Klay for Kevin Love a few years later. Drafted Draymond Green and kept the muzzle off of him despite his antics. They moved on from coach Mark – hand down, man down – Jackson and brought in Steve Kerr. They got former NBA All-Star Andre Igoudala to buy into his role as a 6th man. Then smartly made him a starter during the 2015 NBA Finals. The franchise decided against giving Harrison Barnes a max deal when his rookie contract ended. The list goes on and on.
They’ve also had hard work and luck on their side. After watching GSW lose to the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2014 NBA Playoffs my thoughts went to Curry. Two things needed to change for him. 1 – he had to get beyond the nagging ankle injuries that plagued him early in his NBA career. 2 – he had to improve his ball handling and decision making. His turnover% of 16.2 in the 2014 Playoffs is the second highest of his playoff career. In the 2016 NBA Playoffs he had a turnover% of 16.7 but you’ll also see that his usage percentage was much lower – 23.1 – in the 2014 playoffs vs 32.1 in the 2016 playoffs. In those two regular seasons Curry had a turnover% of 16.1 on 28.3 usage% in 2013-2014 and 12.9 on 32.6 usage% in 2015-2016. To this date, that is Curry’s highest usage%. There’s no coincidence that Curry was unanimously named MVP (the 2nd of his career) in 2015-2016.
Now we sit on the cusp of Golden State winning their 3rd NBA title in 4 years. The only blemish came in the 2016 NBA Finals when the historic 73-9 team was defeated by Cleveland. The result of that defeat proved to be another marquee moment for the team. The Warriors went big game hunting after stating their intentions to not re-sign Harrison Barnes. When the game is Kevin Durant, can you really blame them? KD joined the Warriors and the rest has been history. 16-1 during last season’s Playoffs. That “1” being a desperate win by Cleveland the 2017 NBA Finals. This 2018 Playoff run has been a bit different. Though the fact they haven’t always been locked in hasn’t changed the final outcome.
The Golden State Warriors haven’t killed the NBA or any other wild things like that. Have they made it tough to watch? Maybe. Have they made a lot of opposing fans sad? Yes! It took me a long time to appreciate the first version of this team without KD. I’m glad I came around because I was really missing out on some great basketball. I accepted what was to come with KD joining them as soon as it happened. There will be more shakeups this summer as teams try to figure out a way to beat Golden State. Man, I hope I’m woke when these dudes get beat.