By Zach Naidu
I’m not saying you need to like to them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t hate them. All I am saying is that if you truly love basketball, you have no choice but to appreciate the Golden State Warriors.
Yes, there is much scrutiny over how they acquired (arguably) their best player in Kevin Durant. But snake taunts aside, the Warriors play basketball as it should be played: teamwork, excellent ball movement, athleticism and a dash of flash.
This wasn’t necessarily the case for super teams in recent memory. Most notably, the Miami Heat with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They were a spectacular assembly of talent — LeBron is still better than Kevin Durant, and Chris Bosh in his prime wasn’t too far off from Klay Thompson as a great, All-Star-caliber third option. But Mario Chalmers was no Stephen Curry, and Andre Iguodala would’ve run circles around Shane Battier or Mike Miller. The Heat would dominate games, and you would see great defense as a product of sheer athleticism and talent. However, on the offensive side, the Heat often lacked the pure fluidity the Warriors exhibit on a nightly basis. The Warriors’ passing and shooting make even the best defensive players in the world obsolete — just ask Anthony Davis.
Moreover, Steve Kerr deserves more recognition than he gets from the average basketball fan. Sure, he has objectively the most talented NBA roster of the past two decades and arguably of all time. But getting results with superstars is no walk in the park. Just ask Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. The fact the Warriors have thrived in years past has at times been used to discredit Kerr, but this is flawed thinking. If anything, Kerr should be lauded for implementing a system that needs minimal involvement by the interim coach in his absence. Kerr allows great players to be great while staying in touch with them on a personal level. Earlier this year, he let his players coach a game against the Phoenix Suns, showing he isn’t hesitant to go outside the box to get through to his players.
If you support the Cavaliers, Celtics, 76ers, or any team in the Western Conference, the Warriors are the reason why your chances of tasting victory in the NBA Finals is as hard as it’s been since the Jordan era. Of course, you shouldn’t be expected to “love” the most annoyingly talented sports team of a generation.
But to those of you who know anything about basketball — if you were to sit back and just watch the Warriors play a game, with no rooting interest involved, you’d be lying if you didn’t think, to some degree, “wow, that was beautiful basketball.”
Contact Zach Naidu at znaidu ‘at’ stanford.edu