The Warriors are just the latest evil empire to hide behind the same “haters gonna hate” defense teenagers use to justify their fresh septum piercings. From top to bottom, Golden State’s roster is despicable. Matt Barnes somehow isn’t even the most irritating guy in a charming blue and yellow uniform — that alone ought to be grounds for forceful expulsion from the league, but hatred for the Warriors should cut deeper than a mere “Ew, Matt Barnes.”
…But also, ew Matt Barnes.
You should first hate the context in which the inevitably bland NBA title is about to be awarded (probably in a matter of just a few hours now). This year can’t end soon enough for the majority of fans who turn to sports for true competition and entertainment and the escape from harsh realities. First the Patriots made a mockery of the NFL by trotting to its annual playoff BYE, silencing AFC challengers with annoying confidence in Brady and Belichick’s ability to once again lead the league in not totally blowing it on the big stage. The postseason Pats are Sunday Tiger on the back nine just waiting for their challenger’s palms to start sweating. New England is now the recipient of two gift-wrapped Super Bowls in three years. Evil.
On top of the Pats victory, sports fans have now endured a UNC hoops redemption story nobody wanted, back-to-back Stanley Cups for Pittsburgh and — if you’re willing to go back to last fall — the rebirth of country-wide Cubs fandom. In every single instance, the title game loser was by far the better story. Gonzaga tried to alter the entire college hoops landscape, Atlanta and Nashville strove to bring their hometown fans their first championships ever, and the Cleveland Indians might top even the lowly Mariners as Major League Baseball’s most depressing team. Shoot, that means the Mariners aren’t even the best at being the worst, sorry Mariners bros.
If not for Steve Sarkisian accidentally setting his brew on the Buffalo Wild Wings button during college football’s national title game, we’d be looking at a clean sports title sweep by the evil league of evil. Add up all that horribleness and there’s still no end in sight — with the NBA season (probably) coming to a merciful close tonight, all sports fans have to look forward to is a red-hot Aaron Judge-led Yankees team that makes a habit of obliterating division rivals by double-digits.
So yeah, it’s time we hate the Warriors. And don’t mistake this for a column about “hate” meaning begrudging respect, I mean deep in your soul hate. The same hate typically reserved for those who park poorly and repeat jokes on Twitter after they’ve been on Facebook for three days and reddit for seven.
It’s time we fully embrace our hatred of the Warriors’ weaker players. Zaza is dirty and y’all know it. Maybe the Kawhi injury was an accident and maybe it wasn’t (it wasn’t), but Zaza’s documented history of being a trash center is enough to raise eyebrows — that time he tried to crack Kawhi’s arm out of its socket comes to mind, but there are several examples out there. Also, the Warriors’ “ugly centers only” policy, also known as the Andrew Bogut policy, isn’t even in the top ten most obnoxious things about this team. Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala are the guys who live in weekend clubs convincing jersey chasers they’re actually stars and not just replaceable future Mavericks, which they are. If you need a column to tell you why to hate David West, just get out.
We should hate Draymond Green, for being the NBA’s resident loudmouth infantile moron. At least Steve Smith’s short man syndrome endeared him to some — he was an actual tough guy. No fathers out there ought to be instructing their sons to play like Draymond Green someday. First because those sons aren’t gonna be 6’7” power forwards, and second because if you want your kid to be a tantrum-prone man-child whose idea of sportsmanship involves taking cheap shots at every opposing player’s junk at the earliest available opportunity, put him in football. Green is in all actuality the dirtiest player in the NBA, and just happens to play on a league darling. In the future when leagues are officiated by robots, Green will whine nightly on TNT about how nobody dominates quite like he did “back when men were men.”
Adam Silver is a good-probably-great commissioner, but there are some things even he won’t change. The league runs on money, and Green is good for the league. He therefore wears impenetrable plot armor enabling him to stay on the floor until he literally rips Iman Shumpert’s ear off (which he would argue down to a flagrant 1).
We should be able to openly hate the splash brothers without fans of other teams inexplicably coming out of the woodwork to defend them. Both of them. Openly smoking pot and owning the league’s most meme-able face are the only reasons Klay is in fans’ good graces, and despite his time with the Warriors he is destined to be the most forgotten player on the starting five (Zaza will star on every documentary and commercial referencing the 2016-17 Warriors until Judgement Day). His post-game cockiness may have cost his team a title every bit as much as Draymond’s idiocy and Steph’s patchwork joints in 2016. He’s the guy at the party you least want near your girl’s beverage.
Steph needs that hair on his face blurred out on live TV for decency’s sake — kids watch basketball, you know. Yes, he is the greatest shooter of all time. Turns out you can be great and still obnoxious, as has been proven by literally every sport since the beginning of time. The same dude you run into at Chili’s defending Steph’s honor absolutely hates any mention of LeBron James. Oh sure, Steph can be an all-around stand-up guy, but not stupid traitorous married his high school girlfriend and seems to be a great father to his kids and has carried the league for over a decade and literally gotten in zero trouble the entire time LeBron. Forget that guy, amirite? Folks, Steph Curry is a brat. He showed up to youth basketball games in grade school outfitted in NBA brand headbands and shooting sleeves and $18 socks. Oh he was good, the best guy on the team in fact. But even as his teammate, you hated that kid.
But hey, if you want to talk traitors, let’s talk Kevin Durant. You should hate Kevin Durant. Durant, who’s about to win finals MVP on someone else’s team, did OKC dirty and he knows it. Durant was the original blower of the 3-1 lead, throttling the Warriors in 2015’s WCF before utterly collapsing. No-show. Gone. 2015 should have been the Thunder’s year for a parade, but Durant is the essence of the guy who talks big and then hides behind his dad when it actually comes to fisticuffs.
Let’s be as clear about this as possible — so-called super-teams have always existed. Today’s favorite target for fan-angst LeBron created one in Miami and it worked. Doc Rivers captained one in Boston and it worked. It has always been this way. You know what’s new? The MVP-caliber leader of a team coming within one win of a finals berth and blowing it, then transferring to the team he blew it to. The record-setting 73-win maybe-the-best-ever team. “But LeBron…” Freaking stop it, their situations are not the same. Yes, the exaggerated cap hike allowed this to happen. And you know what, if Durant was ever even one percent honest about anything ever, it’d be easier to forgive him. After all, it’s not his responsibility to maintain league parity. It’s his job to make money and play ball at an elite level, both of which he’s accomplished in Oakland. But he’s a sucky liar, going on record over and over about how a championship isn’t the most important thing to him, how the Warriors don’t still feel the sting of last year’s 3-1 fiasco in the locker room. Durant can decide to take the easy road if he wants, but he doesn’t get to direct the narrative of the fallout he’s caused.
The NBA is about to complete its worst postseason in 17 years. A league with more talent in it than perhaps ever before is consequently more boring than it’s maybe ever been. If not for the casual coolness of Steve Kerr (who is as likable as they come), post-game pressers would just be a cycle of Durant and Steph trading cliches back and forth, acting like they’re the spiritual defending champs of a league that requires four wins in the finals for that to actually be the case. Of course, about half of the league’s fans will celebrate Oakland’s “historic” title victory this week, justifying their bandwagoning with the title’s “historic” significance (as if the NBA doesn’t somehow drum up that “this one is different!” angle every single year). And more still will at least do a minor fist-pump as 32-year-old LeBron fails to win it all, because Bron-hate is like bloodlust.
You don’t have to hate the Warriors or love the league they’ve left in ruins, but failing to understand the loads of legitimate reasons to hate the league’s latest supervillain is ignorance to the highest degree. Of course, haters gonna hate I guess. Congrats on your recent Super Bowl victory, Dubs fans. Enjoy it while you can.