Finally here they were, the new big four on the court at Oracle Arena. They weren’t in uniform, not yet—well, not the Warriors uniform anyway—but there they were; Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, gathered on the floor that they will soon return to as the latest (and perhaps greatest) NBA super team.
What happened last night could serve as a preview—the complete and utter domination of a would-be challenger. China trailed by 28 at the half, 45 after the third. The Warriors won’t have FIBA GOAT Carmelo Anthony or DeMar DeRozan, whose attempted 360 posterization was the best missed dunk the building has seen since LeBron James tried to end Draymond back in June, but they won’t need them, either. The Warriors will dominate, and people will hate them for it. Just look at this for a preview—USA up huge in the fourth, Durant drives and kicks to Kyle Lowry in the corner for three, and extends his arms in celebration as the shot goes up. (It misses.)
God, this is going to be fun. God, are opposing fans going to hate it.
In the end it was just a team of stars in Oracle Arena, trouncing an overmatched opponent and acting out as they blew them off the floor. We best get used to that. It’s going to happen a lot. You’re going to hate it.
The Warriors never quite became full-fledged NBA villains last season, at least not the ones they would have become had they won a second championship, although it wasn’t for lack of trying. It was mystifying how Curry himself was still considered a humble, aw-shucks kind of guy even as he did things on the court that would have spawned untold numbers of scolding columns and Stephen A. Smith rants had LeBron or—God forbid—Kobe Bryant tried them. Somehow, Curry’s off-court persona, and perhaps his relatively diminutive size, kept people from acknowledging his stone-cold on-court arrogance. Like a puppy who destroyed a favorite keepsake, we looked at Curry surrounded by carnage and just said “Aw, isn’t he cute?”
Well, that’s over now. The Warriors won 73 games last season and went out and signed the premier free agent, one whom fits perfectly into their equal-opportunity offense—a seven-foot 3-point shooter who also happens to be a tremendous perimeter defender and has already accumulated all of the individual accolades he’ll ever need, save a NBA Finals MVP. The best (regular-season) team in NBA history couldn’t quite get it done in the finals, so they got better. A lot better. They lost a gunfight and went out and got themselves a thermonuclear weapon.
Think of it: Curry bringing the ball up, and instead of Thompson and Harrison Barnes on the wings, it’s Thompson and Kevin freaking Durant. Or instead of Curry with the ball, it’s Green in the post with Thompson and Curry and Durant on the perimeter, stretching the defense until it snaps. Who do you double? Who do you leave? How many teams will just send out seven defenders and hope no one notices?
The Warriors were movie-villain-soliloquy-ing arrogant last year, and well, they had every right to be. They were the defending champions who came out and won their first 24 games, they broke the ‘96 Bulls record for wins in a season, they made it all the way back to the NBA Finals despite trailing 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. They had two players who hit shots on the regular that other players on other teams would have been benched just for taking. And they signed Kevin freaking Durant.
So there was Curry last night, sitting on the sidelines with a Ken Griffey Jr.-twisted cap on his head and a goofy grin on his mug as his new best friend helped his old mates torch China. There was even a typical Thompson barrage, not that it mattered much in the final outcome. In the end it was just a team of stars in Oracle Arena, trouncing an overmatched opponent and acting out as they blew them off the floor. We best get used to that. It’s going to happen a lot. You’re going to hate it.