The Warriors have trounced the Thunder three times this season: By 26 in November, then 21 in January, and 16 Saturday night. Only delusional fans would say the return of 6th man Enes Kanter might have a significant impact on the most recent outcome. If the teams meet in the NBA playoffs (pretty please?), and both teams are fully healthy, the Warriors should sweep them.
The reality: The NBA, for about eight years now, has been all about Super Teams. The Super Team Celtics (two finals trips). The Super Team Heat (four straight Finals appearances). The Super Team Cavaliers (two straight finals trips). And now, the Super Team Warriors.
This is why everyone thought Russell Westbrook was going to demand a trade in the days after Kevin Durant left. Super Teams have dominated despite the best efforts of the NBA to inject socialism into the league. It’s clear Westbrook made a mistake staying.
Westbrook is an immense talent, the most athletic point guard in NBA history. But he’s hard-headed to a fault. He really thinks he can do it all by himself. He should go ask Dominique Wilkins and Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley how that worked out for them.
Answer: It didn’t. Wilkins was one of the NBA’s best players for about an 8-year stretch (1985-1993), but never reached the conference finals. Iverson made the finals once, an improbable run that was as impressive as young LeBron dragging Larry Hughes and spare parts to the Finals in 2007. Barkley had to force his way out of Philadelphia to get to the Finals (and when he lost in Phoenix, he made them trade him, this time to Houston).
For 30+ years now, there’s been one truism in the NBA: You can’t win a title by yourself. It is impossible. Ask Kobe Bryant, who forced Shaq out of LA, thinking he could do it himself. He couldn’t get out of the 1st round of the playoffs. The Lakers heisted Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies. Presto! They were back in the Finals.
Westbrook hopefully had an A HA! moment Saturday night, while talking trash to Kevin Durant: “I’m coming!”
No, he wasn’t. The Thunder never cut the deficit to single digits. Westbrook had 11 turnovers and worst yet, as soon as Durant began guarding Westbrook, the point guard made it personal, abandoning the offense and going at Durant. That’s selfish, amateur hour stuff.
Hopefully Westbrook realizes it this offseason, and the Thunder make moves to bring in another superstar. Because otherwise, Westbrook can rack up all the triple doubles he wants, he’s never going to sniff the NBA Finals again.