COLUMN: Don’t hate the Warriors

Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry

Recently, we’ve seen a lot of… emotion towards the Golden State Warriors. Call it hatred, envy, contempt, pettiness or whatever you will, the sentiment seems to stem from the fact that the Warriors are simply better than everyone else by virtue of adding Kevin Durant in the offseason. Never mind how strange it is to hold ill feelings towards a team that legally attempted to and very much succeeded at becoming a great team, here’s a whole list of people, groups, and things that you should hate before you hate the Warriors.

You should hate Harrison Barnes. While Barnes was a much better player during his time at Golden State than his 2016 Finals performance would indicate, the fact remains that he was one of the main reasons the Warriors failed to defend their championship and ultimately lost to the Cavaliers. If the Warriors do repeat, how likely is it that the Warriors even have the audacity to break up a 73-win championship team or for Durant to still decide to join Golden State? So all those times the Cavs left Barnes wide open in the Finals and Barnes bricked it? You should hate that before you hate the Warriors.

You should hate Festus Ezeli. Remember down the stretch of Game 7 when Steve Kerr left Ezeli in the lineup? The Cavs targeted him like Gregg Popovich targets international prospects in the draft. Few players have a prayer to stop LeBron, and Ezeli was fully exposed in those several minutes. He makes one stop or a defensive play, the Warriors very well could be two-time defending champs and the same theory applied in the above paragraph applies here.

You should hate the NBA owners and the NBA Players Association. The only reason Durant to the Warriors actually worked was the skyrocketing cap. That could’ve been avoided had a ‘cap smoothing’ agreement been made which would’ve slowed the rising of the cap so such an event didn’t happen. That agreement is in place, and Durant is most likely still in OKC.

You should hate Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is basically Zeus with a basketball, but that can be a problem for teammates, especially if the results fail to show. Durant has shown himself to be one of the two best basketball players in the world. How tough do you think it was for him to watch Westbrook try and bulldoze through a defense only to give up the ball on a turnover. Or to watch Westbrook throw up a contested 3-pointer, despite a career 31 percent mark from 3-point land? Can you blame Durant for wanting to play in a free-flowing offense predicated on ball movement after watching that for several years?

You should hate Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan. You’re a professional basketball coach and the best scheme you can come up with is to play iso-ball nearly every time on offense? Westbrook and Durant both were among the top 12 in points scored from an isolation play during the 2015-16 season, but that still stands as a severe misuse of talent and ability.

You should hate Sam Presti, Oklahoma City general manager. “No, we won’t go into the luxury tax to keep James Harden on the Oklahoma City Thunder. We will give $40 million to Enes Kanter, though.”

You should hate Doc Rivers. The guy has Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and JJ Redick but can’t surround them with enough talent to make it past the second round?

You should hate the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Warriors selected Steph Curry with the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Timberwolves selected both Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn directly before that pick.

You should hate the Sacramento Kings. The Warriors selected Klay Thompson with the 11th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Kings selected Jimmer Fredette directly before that pick.

You should hate every other team in the NBA. The Warriors selected Draymond Green with the 35th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Every team in the league had ample opportunity to prevent that.

You should double hate the Timberwolves and Kings, along with the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Charlotte Hornets, and New Orleans Pelicans. The Warriors last missed the playoffs in the 2011-12 season. That’s also the most recent season any of those teams last won a playoff series.

You should loathe entirely the 76ers, Magic, Suns, Kings, and Timberwolves. They haven’t even made the playoffs in that same span.

You can hate Kevin Durant. You should blame Durant for realizing that despite drafting three probable future Hall of Famers in three consecutive year, the Thunder had failed to surround Durant (and Westbrook) with enough talent, both on the court and on the bench, to best challenge for a championship. While the Thunder were title contenders, they were still far short of the potential a team with Westbrook and Durant has. You can blame Durant for wondering why OKC would trade away Harden and Serge Ibaka away in the name of saving salary cap space, only to overpay for the services of Enes Kanter. You can blame Durant, a kid from the big city, for thinking that life may be more comfortable and enjoyable in the Bay area than in OKC. You can blame Durant for thinking that playing with Curry, Thompson, Green, Andre Iguodala and others would be more enjoyable than playing with Andre Roberson, Steven Adams, Alex Abrines, and Kyle Singler. You can blame Durant for wanting to play for Steve Kerr instead of Billy Donovan.

You can hate the Warriors. You can blame them for having the audacity several tough roster decisions, like trading away fan favorites like Monta Ellis, and the foresight to set themselves up to even be able to sign Durant in the first place. You can blame them for having the guts to break up a 73-win team to do so. You can blame the Warriors for doing what every fan wishes their team would do: put the best team they possibly can onto the basketball court.

You can blame the Warriors, but are they really the ones that deserve it?