This would be the perfect moment.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are splashing threes from impossible angles. The Warriors are safely ensconced as the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. All’s well in Warrior World.
It is time for the phone call.
That would be the one from the NBA office in New York.
“Hey,” the league would say. “Sorry. My bad. It won’t happen again.”
Much has been made of the eight-game, 13-day cross-country road trip the Warriors endured at the end of February and start of March. It’s referred to as a “rough patch.”
The two-week period was a cynical exercise in running the NBA’s coolest, shiniest product right into the ground. By the time it came to a close, coach Steve Kerr had to take matters into his own hands and protect his best players by taking them out of a nationally televised game at San Antonio.
Frankly, he had no choice. Clearly, the league didn’t care.
It is important to keep in mind that this miserable merry-go-round wasn’t the product of weather delays or transportation problems. Someone in the league office sat down and drew this up.
What he/she came up with was an abomination.
Where to begin? Six of the eight games were back to back, meaning playing a game in one city and then flying to another city for a second game within 24 hours.
Or, after playing five games in five cities in eight days, they flew 2,500 miles to Oakland to play Boston for ONE game. Were they tired? Check out the fourth quarter when one of the NBA’s hottest offenses totaled 12 points.
But the face-palmer was the next day. They flew more than 1,500 miles from Oakland to Minneapolis and lost to the T-wolves. They then got on a plane to San Antonio — 1,250 miles — for a nationally televised back-to-back with the Spurs.
At that point Kerr said he was resting Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson for the game. The howling was deafening. Network commentator Jeff Van Gundy said it told fans: “You don’t matter.”
Kerr knew what he was doing. He could have rested players for the Minnesota game, which wouldn’t have caused nearly the fuss. He did it on the national stage to make a point — you can’t treat the most gifted athletes in the world like circus ponies.
And if you’re going to start the “Well, they fly on charter planes and all have private masseuses” rant, save your breath. Ever go on a five-day business trip? How about one to the East Coast? How about one where you change cities every other day?
And that doesn’t include that your employer has scheduled an intense, two-hour workout, with spectators, when you arrive.
Or just do the math. In the 82-game regular season, spanning a little over six months, the Warriors lost a total of 15 games. They lost five of them — a third — on that 13-day road stretch.
At the time, there were all kinds of theories. Curry had lost his shot. The team couldn’t win without Kevin Durant. The lack of a big man was hurting them.