We’d like to interrupt the coronation of the Golden State Warriors as the 2018 NBA champions with a news announcement.
It ain’t that easy.
Turns out, they don’t grant tenure in big money basketball. Other teams also have professional players, and knocking off the entitled, over-hyped (in their view) Warriors would make their day.
“That’s going to be the theme this season for sure,” Steph Curry said after Wednesday’s narrow, contentious win against Toronto. “They circle us on the calendar and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Which, in return, would be a fine time for the Dubs to also give it their best shot. So far they have not, at least not consistently.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr is everyone’s favorite witty sports philosopher, but after the game with the Raptors, he took some bark off his team’s collective hide.
“We just decided not to try on the glass,” he said. “Literally. A shot would go up and our guys would look like this (open-mouthed and motionless.) There is no reason for it.”
Encouragingly, his players said they felt the same way.
“I think a 4-year-old up in the stands could have seen we weren’t boxing out,” Durant said.
“Our defense has been horrible,” Draymond Green said. “We are not communicating.”
Well that better get fixed pronto, unless you guys enjoy being the subject of “What’s wrong with the Warriors?” segments on every sports outlet in America.
Here’s the problem. Win one NBA championship and you are a lovely up-and-comer story. Win two in three years, and go to the Finals in the third, and the calculus changes.
The Warriors are now a brand — nationally and globally. Along press row I sat next to a reporter who was filing for an NBA site in France. A local electronic media buddy said he was sending video to a website in China.
They are the team of the moment, must-see TV and Curry-jersey wearing fans everywhere can recite the signature moments. In the closing minutes of the tense Wednesday night game, Durant brought the ball up the floor, stopped on the left side and drilled a clutch 3 over an outstretched hand.
And thousands of avid fans turned to each other and said, that’s the same place on the floor as “KD dagger 3,” the ballsy go-ahead shot over LeBron James in last year’s Finals. Durant didn’t even get the ice off his knees before he was asked if it reminded him of …
“Nah, don’t go there,” he said, cutting off the question. “This is a new year.”
Yeah, well, good luck with that. With two Larry O’Brien trophies in hand, and the potential for more, it is the Warriors’ world and other teams are just living in it.
And it pisses them off.
Oklahoma City adds Carmelo Anthony and Paul George and people ask Russell Westbrook if that’s so they can match up with the Warriors.
Cleveland reshuffles and James is asked what that means in teams of competing with Golden State.
It’s all eyes on the Golden Fellows. So this would be a bad time to look like you are still accepting bouquets from national sports pundits instead of putting a body on the nearest rebounder.
And yet, there seems to be much to learn. Getting a little playing time in an easy win in Dallas, bouncy rookie Jordan Bell was overcome by exuberance.
On a breakaway he bounced the ball off the backboard, caught it and dunked.
Kerr said the reaction on the Warriors bench was mixed.
“The young guys thought it was cool,” he said. “And I kinda did too, like ‘Screw the norms, I’m going to kick ass.’ ”
On the other hand, the strict, albeit unwritten, rules of the game say you don’t show off when you are blowing a team out — especially in their building.
“I cringed a little,” Kerr said. “Next time he could just dunk it.”
Kerr got Bell over to the bench to warn him someone might take a whack at him. In response, Kerr said, Bell looked “bewildered.”
Better get up to speed Swaggy B. This is Old School stuff and the NBA elders take it seriously. (Although there’s a reason a lot of the rules are unwritten. They’re too dumb to write down. And where is this Old School? Can we visit?)
But Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was miffed and brushed off Kerr’s attempts to apologize. And the next day debates about Bell’s dunk — showboat or showtime? — popped up on shouty sports TV talk shows all over the country.
So now, beginning with tonight’s game with Detroit, would be an excellent time to accept the urgency of the new season. There are plenty of excuses. Training camp was shortened, the team flew to China and this year the season is starting earlier. Veterans aren’t used to playing real games until Halloween.
But there’s also some truth to what Green told reporters last week.
“Sometimes you get a little too comfortable,” he said. “You feel like you’ve done this before.”
You might be onto something there. Everyone says they are determined to turn this around, but just in case, here’s one more incentive.
Team VP of communications Raymond Ridder was talking about the team’s widespread fanbase. He said the Warriors’ opening night game was televised in China.
The audience? Twenty-five million.
The whole world is watching. This is no time to coast.
Contact C.W. Nevius at email@example.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.