Disappointing. Is there any other way to describe it?
From the bottom on up to the top, from the casual Warriors fan who sees not more than a half-dozen games a season on television and maybe knows the name and position of one player not named Curry and who might think Festus Ezeli was a character on the old “Gunsmoke” TV series or Shaun Livingston was a 19th-century explorer, to the most rabid followers who drench themselves in every droplet of social media rants and rumors having to do with their divine Dubs, to the players and coaches themselves, ascending all the way to majority owner Joe Jacob, even extending to the compliant and complacent Bay Area sports media, the attitude adopted after the Warriors’ shameful defeat on Dec. 12 at Milwaukee was disappointing.
To say the least.
The mealy-mouthed excuses flowed free and easy, in stark contrast to Golden State’s offense on that fateful night in the nation’s beer capital. Never mind finding the open man. Nobody seemed to have trouble finding the open excuse. OK, then. We’re here to name names and kick butt, or at least to list those excuses and to righteously rebut:
Excuse: Well, it was a great run. More than a great run — a historic run, that 24-0 start to the season, shattering the previous NBA record of 15. Let’s just bask in the afterglow for a while. What’s the harm?
Rebuttal: What ever happened to winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing? What would Vince Lombardi say about accepting defeat? Do you think cigar-chomping Red Auerbach would have been satisfied with a 24-game season-opening winning streak when a 25-game season-opening winning streak would have meant a 7-0 road trip — the first in the 70-year history of the NBA? Methinks not.
Excuse: Well, nobody’s perfect; sooner or later a loss was inevitable.
Rebuttal: Last time anyone checked, the only things inevitable are death for all, taxes for the working class and affordable seats at Oracle Arena for the anointed few. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, inevitable about a superior professional basketball team losing to an inferior one, even if the game in question is played at the inferior team’s home gym.
Excuse: Well, the defeat came in the concluding game of a sadistic 13-day, seven-game road trip and just 24 hours after a physically sapping and emotionally draining double-overtime win at Boston.
Rebuttal: Two words — boo-hoo.
Excuse: Well, you know, the Bucks aren’t the Washington Generals. They’re an NBA team, and NBA teams, even small-market teams with losing records, have world-class, highly motivated basketball players who relish playing the role of David to Golden State’s Goliath.
Rebuttal: The Milwaukee Bucks are a last-place team. The Washington Generals would have lost by fewer points than the 13 by which the then-undefeated Warriors lost.
Excuse: Well, Klay Thompson was coming off a sprained ankle and wasn’t quite himself. And sure, Stephen Curry might be the most dazzling shooter/ball-handler since Pistol Pete Maravich, but he’s only human. And the Warriors were still without Harrison Barnes.
Rebuttal: In the pioneer days after James Naismith created a new sport out of a peach basket, guys played with broken ankles, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind their backs. Teams played a man short if they had to. Or two guys short. Didn’t matter. That’s when men were men and the idea of this recreational winter exercise someday becoming a booming global entertainment business would have been as ludicrous as a slam dunk or a 3-point shot.
Excuse: Well, the Warriors are still, clearly, the best team, the most exciting and most entertaining team in the NBA. Heck, in all of sports. It’s all good.
Rebuttal: It’s not all good. If it were, the Warriors would still be undefeated and there would be no war or poverty in the world. There were dreams, gosh darn it. Dreams of putting an undefeated record on the line on Christmas Day against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dreams of breaking the Lakers’ NBA-record 33-game winning streak. Dreams of an 82-0 season. Those dreams were derided, dismissed, dashed, destroyed.
Sure these rebuttals might be a bit severe in the wake of that first loss of the season, maybe a little insane. OK, maybe full-court insane.
But where was the raging red-blooded American anger? Where was the Constitutional right to demand accountability?
Not even an online campaign to fire Luke Walton or to bench Curry.
Robert Rubino can be reached at RobertoRubino@comcast.net.