The Golden State Warriors have become death, the destroyer of worlds. Yes, the super team that added another superstar to the mix last offseason wound up winning the 2017 NBA championship. Shocking. So, now that the Warriors are the league’s “Big Bad,” what comes next for the association? Can anyone step up and slay the four-headed Curry-Durant-Thompson-Green beast? The prognosis on that front ain’t great.
First, let’s get this out of the way: this year’s Warriors squad is an all-time great team. That’s 100 percent true. But talk of it being the best ever needs to be silenced immediately. Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams never would have surrendered the 49 points in a quarter, 86 points a half and 137 points in a game Golden State gave up in Game 4. No way, no how. Against that Cleveland Cavaliers squad, the Bulls would have finished that sweep.
Let’s also remember that those Jordan teams won three-straight titles…twice! The Warriors have yet to go back-to-back and blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 finals, something Jordan never would have allowed to happen. Golden State is a phenomenal team and may have the best top-four ever, but the Warriors are not the best squad in league history. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson should be thrilled with this title, but they need to show me far more before we start throwing around the “best ever” talk.
That said, the gulf between Golden State and the rest of the league is fairly enormous right now. Can anyone challenge this colossus? Uh, well, unless you’re a Warriors fan I’ve got some pretty bad news for you.
The Cavs are the first team you have to look at as a possible championship foil next season, but it’s likely Cleveland’s roster winds up being virtually the same as it is now. And this one wasn’t close to good enough. Unless LeBron James can convince Chris Paul to head East for peanuts, or they can unload Kevin Love for some kind of non-existent upgrade, the Cavs aren’t going to be appreciably better next season.
What about Gregg Popovich and his always contending San Antonio Spurs? Well, thanks to Tony Parker’s awful contract, there’s very little salary cap room to work with there. They too will make a run at Paul, but even if he gets there, will they be able to neutralize all four of Golden State’s weapons? The Warriors are the better team on paper and likely will be the better squad on the floor too.
What about the Boston Celtics? Brad Stevens’ squad nabbed the one-seed in the Eastern Conference, has the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and has some cap space. Boston could even lure Gordon Hayward! Everyone loves Gordon Hayward! He’ll be the piece that gets them over the hump! He’ll totally be able to neutralize LeBron and Kevin Dura–OK, sorry I can’t even get through that sentence.
Face it folks, we’re stuck in a world where the Warriors are going to dominate for a long time unless someone on the team gets greedy. They’re the boss at the end of a level you just can’t beat, the cheat code that counters your every move, the anomaly in The Matrix. They’re something created by the system that may ultimately destroy it.
Fans don’t like dynasties, they want real competition. This season the NBA’s regular season didn’t even matter, we all knew who was going to wind up in the finals. Then we got there — after the worst playoffs in years — and it wasn’t even a contest. We all know the Warriors will almost certainly be in the finals next year, so why should we even watch regularly? It will be interminably boring for everyone outside the Bay Area. It’s a serious problem the league will have to confront.
Like it or not, the Warriors are the early-2000s Los Angeles Lakers, the late-90s New York Yankees and the…for as long as I can remember New England Patriots. They’re poised to be that team you hate but have to grudgingly respect, the franchise you want to beat with every fiber of your being but know your team simply can’t measure up to.
So enjoy your title Warriors, you have certainly earned it with one hell of a run. And, unfortunately, we’ll probably see you here again next year.