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OAKLAND — Warriors coach Steve Kerr wore his “Supervillains” T-shirt at the interview podium a couple weeks ago. It was a little joke. But as we prepare for the start of the 2017 NBA playoffs, it’s time for Kerr’s team to embrace the nickname in earnest. The Warriors need to locate their inner darkness.

First, a quick word on Wednesday night’s game at Oracle Arena. The Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-94 in a contest with slightly less drama than an accounting firm’s annual report. If the NBA postseason is a season unto itself, then the final regular-season game — with playoff positions locked in — is more like an exhibition. And that’s what it felt like Wednesday.

Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala got rest days. And truth be told, Kerr and his coaching staff probably hadn’t spent a minute scouting the Lakers. They were already onto the Portland Trail Blazers, their first-round playoff opponent.

That series begins here Sunday afternoon.

And when it does, a lot of people across this nation will be rooting for the Warriors to lose. A lot of people. It’s a strange development for a team that seemed to delight the world in 2014-15, when folks hopped on the Golden State bandwagon like it was the last chopper out of Saigon.

Everywhere the Warriors played that year, the stands seemed to be half-filled with blue-and-yellow jerseys. The Warriors were the little guys who hadn’t won a title in decades, draining 3-pointers and turning games into parties. Stephen Curry, in his first MVP season, was more teen idol than basketball player.

Gradually, things have changed.

“I think we started to feel it last year, maybe midway through,” Kerr said Wednesday morning, after he had called off a scheduled shootaround for general lack of interest.

The Warriors were still the most intriguing team in the NBA last season. But no longer were they universally liked.

“I think what happened over the last year or so is what always happens in sports when a team wins at a really high level,” Kerr said. “There’s suddenly a lot of interest in that team, and it generally splits in two. You have people who love the team, and people who are dying to see them knocked off. I saw it with the Bulls for years.”

As the Warriors rocketed to the best record in NBA history in 2015-16, eclipsing Michael Jordan’s (and Kerr’s) Chicago Bulls, the dichotomy formed. Curry remained immensely popular.

But you began to hear grumbles that he shimmied a little too much after hitting treys. Later, in the playoffs, Green emerged as a serial crotch-abuser, pulling his team toward true villainy.

Winning had become too easy for the Warriors. Folks resented it. By the time they fumbled a 3-1 series lead and were stunned by the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, a lot of people were delighted. If anyone deserved to be the butt of 3-1 jokes, it was the Warriors.

The final touch of evil came when Golden State signed Kevin Durant last July. The move made perfect sense for both the team and the player, yet everyone from Skip Bayless to the most casual fan was outraged. Durant’s move sealed it. If you don’t live in Northern California, you probably despise the Warriors.


Warriors (40-4) vs. Spurs (38-6) At Oracle Arena, Oakland

Time: 7:30 p.m. TV: CSN-BA, NBA TV Radio: 680 AM

Curry hosted a team party last Nov. 11 and spelled out “SUPER VILLAINS” with metallic silver balloons. But it was all done with a nod and a wink. The Warriors didn’t really consider themselves the bad guys.

“I’ve never felt like we were villains,” Kerr said. “That’s the reason we sort of made fun of it, because it’s really kind of silly. We’ve got one of the most likeable groups around, and our guys are all great with the media, great with fans.”

All well and good. But these are the playoffs. The Warriors will be bumped and elbowed and shoved around by every team they face. Of course they will, because they are clearly the best team in the NBA right now.

Fans in road arenas will be merciless. They’ll jeer Curry every time he hits the back of the rim on a shot, and boo Green for the most minor incidental contact.

Don’t fight it, Warriors. Own it. Be the villains you always knew you could be.

Or maybe they have already made this decision. I mean, the last player the Warriors signed was Matt Barnes. The man who once shouted a vulgarity at the mother of Rockets star James Harden. The guy who drove 95 miles to punch out Derek Fisher when he learned his former teammate was hanging out with Barnes’ estranged wife. As if Barnes still dictated her social calendar.

Not every Warrior can be that terrible, but everyone has a role to play here.

Klay Thompson should grow out his mustache so he can twirl it like Dick Dastardly after swishing a 3-point dagger. Curry should get a neck tattoo of Bernard Madoff and start referring to himself in the third person, using first and last name at every opportunity.

Green can’t afford to get too blatant on the court. He proved beyond a doubt last year that this team suffers greatly when he is suspended.

But he can get in some sneaky shots. Like when he slapped at Harden’s injured wrist in retaliation for a pinch on March 31. Next up for Green: Portland center’s Jusuf Nurkic’s leg, followed later by Houston forward Sam Dekker’s hand.

The Warriors should wear their alternate black uniforms for the entire postseason. Paint their faces in ghoulish eyeblack like NFL defensive linemen. Show up to the arena wearing Make America Great Again caps in Los Angeles and #BlackLivesMatter shirts in Texas.

Better yet, these guys should take their cue from the heels of professional wrestling. Threaten opponents with folding chairs. Turn to the crowd in San Antonio or Cleveland and flex when an opponent twists an ankle and lies moaning on the floor.

They should wave off bright-eyed sideline reporters looking for postgame quips. They should wear sunglasses to the postgame press conferences, then overturn the lectern and storm out in a huff when someone asks “Did you mean to throw the ball in Damian Lillard’s face?”

Disavow babies and puppies. Refuse to acknowledge Mother’s Day — and Father’s Day, too, if the NBA Finals go seven games. Bring 20 items to the express lane and take up two parking spots.

These are the playoffs, Warriors. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Remind the rest of the league why they can’t stand you.

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