Respect the Dubs? Don’t you see every channel I turn to, every Facebook post I read, every tweet I scroll through, it’s all about Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors, and outrageous 3-point shots? Well, my response to that is, we should be giving every ounce of respect to the Warriors, a historical team we’ll be telling our children about someday.
Now, to begin my point, I don’t believe Golden State gets a lot of credit, especially from those who grew up watching basketball in the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of loyal basketball fans from that era feel this is a watered down version of the NBA, that despite how great the Warriors have been, they could never beat the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. There are fans who claim nobody plays defense against the Warriors, and this is why they’re so good. These same fans say that all Golden State is good for is the 3-point shot… Can all of this be true?
For me to explain just how great the Golden State Warriors are, I’ll need to let you know that the NBA’s broken down into eras. Somewhere between the Jordan Bulls and the Curry Warriors, the rules have changed, and whether that’s for better or for worse, that’s up to anyone’s personal opinion. Understanding the eras will help everyone recognize that you can not mesh the two. I believe that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team would decimate the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, if played twenty years ago, but on the flip side of things, I also believe that the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors would beat the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team today. Whether you agree or disagree, is not the point, but that there’s no way to decide this. Hopefully we can settle that these are two amazing teams for their own respective eras, and they’ll go down in the record books for what they were able to accomplish.
Something that has been lost in-between the two eras is the way teams play defense, it’s totally changed. Little tactics you could do twenty years ago results in two free throws in today’s structure. Does this discredit Golden State’s 73-9 season because there’s “no defense” played against them? Let’s be honest, the Warriors were the defending NBA champions this season. Explain to me how a championship team does not get the opponent’s A+ effort every night… You can’t, why? Because nobody can fathom that ever existing. When you’re the champion, you have a big red target on your back, and on your forehead too, ready for anyone to pop up one night and shoot you down. Nobody can begin to tell me that teams didn’t try to shut Stephen Curry down, but when the team also has Klay Thompson, and also has Andre Igoudala, and then Draymond Green, is it possible to put your best defender on 4-5 guys all at once? Sometimes Curry won’t be able to shoot from the mid-court logo, or he won’t be able to dribble around three defenders and back a shot, but more than often when Curry went cold, Klay Thompson was there to step up, and Draymond Green picked his game up offensively. There’s a reason Golden State had not the best, but also the second best, in 3-pointers made this season, and the bronze candidate James Harden wasn’t even close to touching the either of them. The Warriors are a complete team with an offensive arsenal any other team could dream of, which is why they make other defenses appear nonexistent.
It’s no secret that Golden State’s 3-point ball fell for them much of the year, but is that the only thing that’s brought them back to the NBA Finals? As a matter of fact, the Warriors did many other stuff as well. Golden State was 4th in the league in rebounds per game as a team, top-ten in steals and turnover differential, as well as second in blocks – only to Miami, which was mainly Hassan Whiteside. The Warriors not only shot the 3-pointers, but they defended them as well, only allowing 33.2% of the opponent’s field goals to be made, which is second only to San Antonio (33.1%). So yes, Golden State’s decorated game beyond the arc was a contributing factor to where they are now, but their credible defense has kept them from going under as well.
Now, there’s one thing I forgot to address, and that is remarks that the NBA is watered down, in which I’d disagree. I was just talking to my friend yesterday about Paul George being announced on the NBA 2K17 cover, and though we could respect George being on the cover, we also named so many other players in this league probably more deserving of the honor. I bring that up, not to go off topic, but to show you that if there’s a debate about who should be on the cover, and we could name at least half a dozen stars off the top of our head who could be a better choice, then the NBA isn’t watered down folks. There is so much talent in the NBA right now that it should blow your minds, and really in all sports, where players are more athletic than they’ve ever been before – probably more athletic than they were twenty years ago.
When it boils down to it, all you have to look at are the bullet points to Golden State’s season. They didn’t come into this year as a dark horse, yet came in with a blood-smeared target on their back for 29 other teams to hunt them down (or 28 excluding the Sixers). The Warriors suffered their first loss twenty-five games into the season, losing at Milwaukee in December to drop to 24-1, despite having an interim coach lead the team. Golden State would break the NBA record at 73-9, the only team in the NBA’s rich history to reach such a mark, even after coasting the final 6 weeks of the season. Golden State’s Stephen Curry would win his second straight Most Valuable Player award, and for the first time ever, be crowned the unanimous MVP, something greats like Michael Jordan can’t say. And last but not least, how we got here, the Golden State Warriors would battle back down 3-1 against the Thunder to save their season when their backs were up against the ready-to-cave wall.
Were the Chicago Bulls teams with Michael Jordan great? Without question! Were the historic Laker squads, the historic Celtic squads, were they great? Absolutely! But no matter how you feel about the game’s structural changes over the past couple decades can never begin to taint what Golden State has been able to accomplish since winning the organization’s first NBA title since 1975.
That my friends, is why you need to “Respect the Dubs”.