Before the Warriors won 73 games and signed Kevin Durant, they were a lovable bunch. Draymond Green provided much needed drama for a team whose face was Stephen Curry, a family man with good ol’ American Christian values who was the child of a former NBA player. Klay Thompson, another son of a former NBA player, played the cut, silently dropping bombs from three and locking up on defense. With Steve Kerr, in his first gig as a head coach, the Warriors felt safe, cliche even, that was until they pivoted to the role of villian. The signing of Boogie Cousins is the Warriors doubling down on villainy, finally embracing the hatred and vitriol, and DeMarcus will surely help them turn full heel. But first, we need to do some reminiscing of what lead to them walking down this dark path of winning while being the most hated.
Remember in 2012, during Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony, when Warriors fans booed their new owner Joe Lacob for trading fan favorite Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut, essentially handing the team to Curry? Klay was a rookie that season and the Warriors front office knew they had something special in that backcourt. They then drafted Draymond the very next year in the second round, giving then-head coach Mark Jackson a young core to mold. I remember when I was a Steph Curry fan (still kinda am.) He came into the league having carried Davidson to an Elite Eight appearance during his sophomore year, and since then I’ve been a believer. Unfortunately, I’m a lifelong Knicks fan and Steph was lucky enough to be taken 7th overall by the Warriors in the 2009 NBA Draft, one pick ahead of New York, who ended up with Jordan Hill. (Remember him? No Knicks fan does.)
Curry dealt with annoying ankle injuries during his first few years in the league, constantly hindering his full potential, until he started wearing custom braces. Then in 2013 came a performance I called a few hours before it happened. Golden State was visiting the Knicks, and we all know Madison Square Garden has this ability to bring out ungodly showings from the NBA’s best. I was arguing with a coworker about how good Steph was because said coworker proclaimed Curry wasn’t even the best player on his team. He swore up and down that David Lee was better. I flipped and proclaimed, “Steph better not go off tonight!” Lo and behold, February 27, 2013 was his coming out party. Curry ended the game with a career-high 54 points.
The word was finally out—the greatest shooter in NBA history had arrived. At this point, Steph, Klay, Dray, and their head coach were the darlings of the NBA, the league’s favorite family sitcom if you will. They lost in the second round of the playoffs that year to the Spurs in six games. The next season they finished with 51 wins but fell to the Clippers in a first round seven-game series. By this time Jackson’s relationship with the entire Warriors organization had become toxic that they decided to fire him and bring in rookie head coach Steve Kerr. Golden State won 67 games and nabbed their first title in 40 years.
I don’t blame the Warriors for adding Durant; he was a perfect fit for what they do. But they’re gonna get this hate, though. Why? Because rooting against a villain in sports is fun, it’s not really any deeper than that.
The Warriors’ 73-win season the very next year after hiring Steve Kerr was a revelation. There was something different about them compared to the 72-win Bulls. The Warriors had come off winning a championship by beating a depleted Cavs team in six games, and they drafted their core players—they didn’t go out and sign a Dennis Rodman, or have a Toni Kukoc coming off the bench with three championships already under their belt. They didn’t have the same mystique as that Bulls team, even though the Warriors acted like they were on some sort of pedestal during that 2016 season. The team acted like the Heat when they signed the Big Three in 2010, and they’re fans were more than annoying as they broke the NBA’s regular season wins record held by the Bulls for 20 years. The castle they built for themselves came crumbling down in the Finals when they blew a 3-1 lead to a healthy Cleveland team. The world laughed at them as they fell, leading Draymond to call Kevin Durant from the Oracle Arena parking lot after Game 7.
I don’t blame the Warriors for adding Durant; he was a perfect fit for what they do. But they’re gonna get this hate, though. Why? Because rooting against a villain in sports is fun, it’s not really any deeper than that. And this is coming from a diehard Yankee fan. Diehard as in paying $500 for bleacher seats for Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. (It was worth every penny because we won it all that night.) So I know how it feels to be the villain—the Yankees are the Evil Empire of American sports, are they not?
Yankee fans sit in an ivory tower and win, we’ve been doing it for generations, my guy. These Warriors, though? New money. They’ll win again this year and capture the first 3-Peat in the NBA since Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers in the early 2000s; adding Boogie is simply the icing on the cake. Whether he ends up being healthy or not, signing a guy of his caliber to the midlevel exception is a win-win. This move made everyone big mad and the only reasons I have to respect something like this is because 1) I love Boogie and want him to win, and 2) this is some shit the Yankees would do.
For Golden State to fully realize their potential they need to go into arenas on the road and destroy people like those Bulls teams did, instead of taking games off like they did last year. I don’t expect to match their 73-win season, but I do expect them to make a statement, especially once Cousins is inserted into the starting lineup. Hopefully Durant will retire the burner accounts and stop responding to randoms on the Internet for good, letting the darkside of the Force fully take hold of him.
They ruined the balance of power when they went to the Hamptons in the summer of 2016, now they must dance on our graves to make things interesting again. Sports fans love to hate, and right now Cupid struck us with a "Fuck the Warriors" mentality. Embrace the hate Golden State, be one with it, then dominate the sport as a franchise for a century. Then maybe you’ll be in the same conversation as those damn Yankees.