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Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior. Like you, I feel just a little bit queasy about all of it.
I am sure KD made the decision for more reasons than we regular folk could ever know and while totally respect his decision as a human being and a person and a man, I really dislike it from a couch-sitting, basketball fan perspective. I want to see the greatest basketball players compete with one another, not join up and destroy hapless, lesser talented teams.
That said, disliking his decision is completely selfish. After all there is evidence that highly ‘uncompetitive’ teams and leagues are very popular. Real Madrid and Barcelona to the Heatles to the Ubuntu Celtics. You know this very league that we are watching? Well part of the reason all the teams are flush with cash is that loads of folks are watching. TNT/ESPN gave a giant wad of cash to the NBA which allowed salaries to rise. This 73-9 juggernaut? They were one of the highest rated teams in league history. After all, we want to watch stars play the game. And stars want to play with stars. It seems KD doesn’t want to yell at Roberson to shoot the ball, and instead know that he has MVP-worthy teammates with skill.
While it might not make the regular season fun competitive, it will make it entertaining. Isn’t that all we wanted in a sports league anyway?
This is not directly comaprable to LeBron’s decision in 2010 in that James was leaving a barren Cavs team to compete with a stacked Boston squad. Here, Durant is leaving a team that had GSW down 3-1 and 5 minutes from elimination for the best team in the league. While there was some uncertainty about Russell Westbrook’s long-term future that contributed to this, the kicker was Jerry West telling Durant about championship windows.
Maybe the threat of being the new Chuck Barkley was too much to bear.
When was the last time we absolutely knew there was a clear better team than the Spurs? Was it those early 2000 Lakers? Was it the Heat? While the SSOL Suns were everyone’s favorite fun-and-gun squad, they only managed to beat (sweep) our favorite team once in a series. The Heat were all but beaten on their own court in one series, and thoroughly dismantled in another. Those OKC Thunder that had everyone questioning the new kings of the NBA? Well the Spurs managed to avenge a previous playoff loss (albeit with a timely injury to Ibaka).
These Warriors are an all-time great team. This Spurs team is also, just a little less great.
The Internet was filled with overreaction hot takes in the wake of the Warriors’ 72nd win on the season and first in 33 tries in SA, one that also ended the Spurs second-greatest-all-time home winning streak at 48.
The dirty secret is that the Spurs have less trouble defending GSW (season lows in pace, points for The Ws) and way more trouble scoring. While some of our fellow fans point to Diaw’s absence as proof that SA still has a chance, that reliance on an aging (but very talented and crucial) guy is telling. Kawhi and LaMarcus are the two leading scorers on this team and yet they struggled in at least one game against the W’s. The Warriors took three of four against SA, but two were throttlings and this while also missing a role player or two for a couple.
The Kevin Martin signing was a sign that the Spurs wanted more firepower — and likely for the Warriors.
While Steph Curry and LMA are matchup problems when in the lineup, the Spurs don’t have any other clear advantages in the other units. Meanwhile, GSW is abusing Patty Mills when Sean Livingston is in.
The playoffs exacerbate these kinds of things. Whereas I usually felt the Spurs had their best shot in out executing other teams, when the opponent does just as good of a job, defends as well, AND has once-in-a-generation talent? Well sometimes you come in second place.
Here’s looking forward to the playoffs.
I am in writing a last-minute research paper that I should have completed about three weeks ago. Such is life. Still, I have miraculously found the time and ability to live-blog-distract-myself during said writing.
Immediately (or really, during, as it began with about two-minutes left in the Heat game) after MVP Bron and co dropped game one against the Bulls, the Spurs come out and look like they’ve been chillin’ all week also. So much of basketball is rhythm. So much rhythm gets lost in scrimmages and practice. There is no way to reproduce the do-or-die rush of adrenaline that comes with playoff game. Thus far, Golden State has played more recent games than have the Spurs and it shows. Missed buckets, slow reactions. This is to be expected. Still, the spark to life came and the Spurs are back in it. The Warriors are still ahead and looking good.
I need to move to Argentina, ya’ll. Messi came in in the 60th minute and scored two goals on four shots this weekend (the other two were off the top corner and off the keeper). Gino comes in and hits a three, gets a steal, and looks 31 years old. Mark Jackson is a good-ass coach. Golden State looks scrappy. They have shooters (which are always game-changing in that infuriating way), and Mark gives them some swagger and confidence. Curry just hit a three to put the Warriors up 42-31. It is only the W’s third (Spurs have four). I’m thankful. The GS beat writer Tim Kawakami1 said that he thought the Spurs would win because we could match them three-for-three. The flaw with that is this: Curry can get his own shot, even if they look impossible or ridiculous. The Spurs have a Rube Goldberg-style of getting those shots, comparatively speaking. The Drive and Kick style is awesome in the flow of the game but it’s hardly the magic you need in the playoffs. ***More soccer references warning *** It is Barca sans Messi-magic. That is to say, it is Arsenal.
Also of note: Bogut’s big-man floater. It is stupid. I hate it. Mostly because he hit it.
The Ginobili in-traffic-dunk will forever be my favorite thing ever.
Matt Bonner playoff poor-performance will forever be my least-favorite thing ever. Beside Juwon Howard judo-chopping Derek Anderson.
After a series of embarrassing strategic fouls on Bogut 2, Mark Jackson takes the Australian out and the Warriors come out of the time out and hit a three. It’s 53-49 and I’m out of snacks.