That was a gloomy day for the NBA.
I’m not just talking about the weather. As soon as the first quarter ended, the complaints came pouring in, flooding news feeds everywhere with Typhoon Domeng-esque levels of haterade.
“Sana Houston-Boston na lang zzzzz”
“Paalam LeBron! *Broom emoji*”
“The Warriors have ruined basketball”
I saw that last one, or some version of it, the most. Tirades, both rational and irrational, about how Golden State had torched any semblance of competitive balance the league used to have.
I get it. The Dubs did just sweep the greatest player of our generation. Easily. Mercilessly. Without an ounce of drama or suspense. We all knew LeBron had a puncher’s chance just to push this to five games, but did anyone expect a spanking of epic proportions? More importantly, did anyone want this? Game 4 was an agonizing formality and an exercise in futility—a championship game we won’t be seeing on Hardwood Classics anytime soon. ‘The Warriors have ruined basketball’ is an understandable take.
It is also a stupid one.
If we brought out torches and pitchforks every time an NBA team vanquished the opposition, we would be hating on literally every dynasty ever created. Did the Bulls ‘ruin basketball’ when they had two threepeats? Or did Bill Russell singlehandedly ‘ruin basketball’ when he won 11 titles in 13 years? Slap yourself in the face right now.
I can think of a handful of teams who are ruining basketball—squads that specialize in iso jab-step midrange hero ball or way-too-young, way-too-dumb tankapaloozas. The Warriors aren’t one of them. What about this looks ruined to you?
That’s the stuff Gregg Popovich’s wet dreams are made of. The Warriors play smart, play hard, and play with fun. Most importantly, they play the right way. If you believe that basketball continues to evolve for the better, the Warriors are harbingers of what basketball was always supposed to be: super-talented, high-octane, hyper-intelligent team ball.
Having said that, the Warriors are without a doubt, the biggest, baddest villains the NBA has had in years. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted against a team with every fiber of my being, like how I do with the Warriors. Way more sinister than the post-Decision Heat and way less sympathetic than pre-Beautiful Game Spurs, you might have to go as far as the Bad Boy Pistons to find a championship team with such a low approval rating.
You know what? It’s beginning to feel like they’ve finally embraced that role too. Take a look at Kevin Durant. This was a dude who had multiple Twitter burner accounts defending his honor, just so he wouldn’t look too bad on “F*ck KD” threads. This was a dude who spent the offseason doing PR damage control, with multiple candid podcast appearances and a personal YouTube channel. This was a dude who rejected ‘Slim Reaper’—a Top 5 nickname of all time—in favor of ‘The Servant’—literally the worst nickname ever—because he was quote “…here to shine a bright light. I’m not here to be a guy of, I guess, death.”
Well, the only bright light he shone in Game 3 was the light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavs.
The level of difficulty of that shot is off the charts. But somehow, even more impressive, was the non-celebration right after—the nonchalant slouch, the icy stare, the utter lack of remorse or conscience. That wasn’t a gamewinner so much as a curb stomp execution.
The Slim Reaper wasn’t done either. After the game, he stops mid-sentence to hand out some choice words for former teammate and current Cavs resbak Kendrick Perkins:
KD. Full-on villian.
Let’s go through the rest of the roster. Draymond Green is the current titleholder of Biggest Dick in the NBA (figuratively, not literally) and probably the most reviled heel since Bill Laimbeer. Remember when his natural shooting motion included kicking his defender in the nuts? Right now, Dray has replaced that with an even more annoying quirk. Never closing his mouth. Ever. Seriously. That’s not a metaphor for whining to the refs—although for a guy that leads the NBA in technical fouls, somehow it inexplicably feels like Dray didn’t get nearly enough of them—Draymond Green’s mouth is really ALWAYS open. And it is infuriating.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are villains in the sense that it absolutely sucks to play against them. They extinguish all hope, burn all your dreams, and shimmy in your face while you pick up the pieces of your broken heart. They make the shots you couldn’t make in 2K—even with the sliders turned all the way up. Look at this madness. It’s not even fair.
JaVale McGee and Nick Young are NBA champions. James Harden and Chris Paul aren’t. I barfed in my mouth a little bit. Zaza Pachulia may or may not be a Russian sleeper agent tasked with slowly and silently taking out members of Team USA in time for the Olympics.
You get the point. It’s isn’t hard to hate these guys. And that’s exactly what the NBA’s always needed. it’s about time the NBA had a true, honest to badness, bad guy again. A team so evil and unlikable that it literally brings Thunder and Supersonic fans together. More importantly, from the looks of it, the Warriors are set to bring some really good NBA players together too.
As crazy as the 2017-2018 season was, I have a feeling that it was the calm before the storm. Hide the women and children. Stock up on canned goods. Delete your search histories. Because next season is gonna be an all-out nuclear war between super teams who have yet to be formed. Literally anything can happen at this point. But here’s what we know for sure:
The Dubs have perfected basketball.
And this league will not lay down and take it. They’re gonna play Golden States’ game and beat them at it.
The Warriors didn’t ruin basketball. On the contrary, the game couldn’t be in a better place.
Photos from Getty Images