This week sees the official kickoff of the 2018-2019 NBA season, yet it somehow feels like it has been going on for months. Thanks to the endlessly entertaining appeal of the off season (with developments like Lebron James signing with the Lakers and Jimmy Butler publicly excoriating his teammates), year after year the NBA manages to entice fans with its product.
It is a remarkable achievement, especially considering how predictable and unbalanced the league has seemingly been thanks, in large part, to the complete dominance by the Golden State Warriors.
Having won three of the last four NBA Finals, including one 73-win season that was the most in league history, the Warriors have cemented themselves as being one of the most successful teams of all time. That being said, you would be hard pressed to find people that view the Warriors in a positive light.
Many would say, myself included, that a lot of the Warriors’ success feels tainted. Each of their championship wins have some sort of asterisk next to them.
In 2015, they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers when both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured. In 2016, they infamously blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers. In 2017, they were apparently so distraught over their loss that they needed to add another superstar player in the form of Kevin Durant in order to beat Lebron James. In 2018, they defeated a barely operational Cleveland team with Irving no longer there.
The Warriors have had their fair share of good fortune, like many other teams, but there is something about how they got to where they are that seems, in a sense, cheap.
We have seen back in 2015 and 2016, a 73-win season team that they were a lovable and a truly homegrown team that revolutionized the pace-and-space kind of game basketball has become. Now, they are a team that did not need any extra help but did so anyway and in effect lessened their likability and uniqueness.
No matter how well Durant and Stephen Curry play, there is rightfully very little justification for either of them winning the MVP award, considering that the subtraction of one of them would have almost no effect on the outcome of their regular season. That does not sound like an MVP to me because both of their accomplishments are somewhat mitigated by the presence of the other.
This all further stresses the main point at hand. How, when it is all said and done, will the Warriors be remembered? Is the animosity they have procured fair?
They might be one of the most important teams in the history of the league, but a lot of the discussion and narrative around them currently seems to be superseding all the accomplishments. Plus, the signing of DeMarcus Cousins can only exacerbate this issue.
While Cousins is injured and the team may not see him back until the second half of the season, the result is still the same. We can safely assume the Warriors will win the title again this year.
Will they ever ameliorate the issues fans have with them? Does it even matter? In the end, it might just come down to whether or not you enjoy a more malleable competitive landscape or the allure of sustained excellence. For better or worse, the Warriors are here to stay, and people will have to get used to it.