The Warriors are changing the NBA forever.
Until yesterday, the Warriors, to many, were still just a team that so happened to win an NBA Championship, and who’ve somehow managed to follow-up the title run with a great regular season record. While the general population has birthed an almost unhealthy obsession with the league’s biggest star, it seems NBA fans and real basketball buffs, outside of the Bay Area, still doubt the “greatness” that has befallen unto the franchise.
The record season has been met with more debate than celebration. Of course, with the 95’-96’ Bulls only one win off this record, comparisons are a given, and with MJ and Steph at the helm of each respective squad, individual impact and achievement parallels are obvious. But in order to understand why a team so adored by the public for it’s dynamic play and likeable figures, is still met with such apprehension you must look at the way in which this team and organization has been shaking up, putting into question all we know and have been accustomed to of the league.
The Warriors team conducts in a way unlike any of the previous successful teams in NBA history, and their leader is a completely contrasting figure from those we’ve put into the G.O.A.T. conversation. The current Warriors bunch very clearly brings about a unique brand of play with their sped up tempo and high-paced, trigger happy offense that operates most frequently 24-feet from the basket. The style is inherently entertaining, but is so far removed from the fundamental format of having strong post-play and balanced team play. While the team’s playing style has been magnified tenfold due to the success in the past two seasons – since switch up in management and coaching and the rise of the Splash Bros – the Warriors franchise has been operating in an unconventional fashion really since the early ‘90s with Nellie Ball. While much has changed within the franchise since then, the emphasis on scoring and utilization of “small-ball” has remained true and is indicative of the Warriors brand of basketball. In the ‘06-’07 season, the “We Believe” Warriors team toyed with success while playing with a run-and-gun style, but in the end fell short, and the critics – namely long-time, traditional basketball fans – were able to collectively say “we told you so” once again disproving the success of unconventional play in not having a strong center and a balanced line-up on the floor at all times. Fast forward to 2015, the Golden State Warriors, led by an unlikely superstar, blew through the Cavaliers in Finals and nabbed the Larry O’Brien trophy. Even with LeBron’s extensive track record of folding under pressure, the Warriors becoming NBA Champions still shocked the world, and as an extension of their unconventional play, shocked the system as a whole.
In success or struggle, winning only 28 games in 2012, the Warriors have always been the underdog, and entering the ‘15-’16 season ranked 1st and favored on paper to repeat, there still was an air of doubt and it seems most strongly expressed from the past NBA generations, and what some would consider real basketball heads. The Warriors averaged 114 ppg, the highest in the league, scoring nearly 200 more 3-pointers than any team in the league. Much has been said of the triple-centric offense, namely Warrior’s ex-coach Mark Jackson’s commentary on Steph Curry actually hurting the game of basketball. While the comment is not meant to be malicious to the Chef as a player, it is a critique on the way he and the Warriors play the game, harking back on players needing to focus on fundamental and traditional methods of play.
Everything about this current Warriors team and organization goes against the norm. The team operates without egos and plays a genuine team game. While this may be common in college ball, it is quite unheard of in the professional game. Aside from the San Antonio Spurs, who have also never been the most popular organization in their own right, the NBA is the stage for ultimate competition – a place where superstars can shine and make their greatness be known. For the Warriors, their unassuming, generally soft-spoken and humble star is a huge deviation from the confident and deservingly cocky leaders NBA fans have been accustomed to. The last two legendary superstars whose leadership success draws parallels to Curry, Kobe and Jordan, have been very much one in the same with their outright competitive personalities, hated and loved for their on court egos and killer instinct. The modest captain is single-handedly changing the perception of what a superstar and MVP, for better or for worse.
With the prominent Warriors cheers while in opponent’s stadiums, and the exponential rise of #30 jerseys around the world, it is clear much of the world welcomes this fresh and new change, but a portion of the public, past players and fans will continue to shun it. Change is never easy, just ask the ex-NBA players and Hall of Famers who have continued to debate the Warriors success, but like it or not the unorthodox Warriors are changing the game. You can’t argue with 73.