Let’s assume the Warriors get win No. 73 on Wednesday night. After the game, someone in the home team’s locker room could give an acceptance speech of sorts — like what a newly-crowned MVP might say after winning the award, only from the team’s perspective, in which credit is given to everyone who made this historical achievement possible.
We should probably leave this honor to Draymond Green, because he’s the one who says things like “I’m always give it to y’all real.” Because we want an honest speech that provides insight into what makes a 73-win juggernaut, and we can pretty easily assume who’ll get thanked by a more diplomatic person who might say what he thinks we want to hear.
(“This record is a testament to a great organization from the top down, coaches that always prepare us and put us in a position to succeed, our mothers, our fathers, our wives, our agents, God,” etc.)
Not that Green wouldn’t thank those people and/or creators, but if we’re being “real,” the Warriors needed help to push through the fatigue and boredom that comes with an 82-game season. So along with the team’s many allies, Green would have to thank the numerous folks who doubted the Warriors since they clinched the title in Cleveland.
A short list (ahem)
— “I’d like to thank the odds makers who were smitten with LeBron James and the Spurs’ free agency additions.”
Bovada, a sports book that seems to relish any opportunity to provide content for lazy sportswriters, had the Warriors’ 2015-16 title odds at 11/2, behind both the Cavs (11/4) and the Spurs (3/1) last summer. Here’s what Green said when I asked him about this in July.
“No, I’m not surprised. Everyone continues to count us out. I think the Spurs have done some great things. And with the moves that they’ve made, they should have just as good of a chance as anybody to win a championship.
“Were we the favorites going into last year to win the championship? There you have it.”
— “I’d like to thank Kyrie Irving for ignoring Kevin Love’s and his own defensive shortcomings when playing the role of revisionist historian.”
“I’m more or less the voice of reason,” Irving said. “I’m always going to be a straight shooter with everyone and give them my honest opinion. Obviously we had a great thing in Cleveland, we dealt with everything together. I felt like we would’ve definitely won an NBA championship if we had everyone healthy.”
— “I’d like to thank Glenn Rivers for telling another cool story.”
“You need luck in the West,” Rivers told Zach Lowe of Grantland.com. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs.
— “I’d like to thank J.J. Redick for adding a little more fuel to the fire in that Lowe article.”
“The more I tried to process it, the angrier I got,” J.J. Redick says. “I’m not saying we definitely would have beaten Golden State, but if you make the conference finals, you have a chance. I’ve given up trying to explain what happened.”
— “I’d like to thank Charles Barkley for BELITTLING us since the beginning, no pun intended.”
There are too many instances to count where Barkley questioned the Warriors due to their supposed lack of size (“THEY TOO SMALL, ERNIE”), and those statements go back a few years now. This year Barkley picked the Thunder (easily the NBA’s most talented team, in his eyes) to win the title and said this about Stephen Curry: “He’s not a great playmaker. He’s just a great shooter.”
— “I’d like to thank Stephen Jackson for claiming we couldn’t beat a rag-tag Warriors team that lost to the 2006-07 Utah Jazz in the playoffs.”
— “I’d like to thank Cedric Ceballos for reminding us that he’s still alive.”
— “I’d like to thank Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen for letting us know that we’d never beat them in a hypothetical series. Statements one can neither prove nor debunk are very helpful.”
— “I’d like to thank the NBA general managers, who should’ve known better since they’re supposed to be the experts.”
The league’s general managers seem to agree that the Warriors aren’t a budding dynasty. Only 17.9 percent of GMs pick the Warriors to repeat as champions, the third lowest percentage for a defending champion in the 13-year history of the NBA.com GM Survey.
The league’s decision makers have picked the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their first ever NBA championship and LeBron James to win his fifth MVP award. If they’re starting a new franchise, however, general managers would overwhelmingly want to do it with Anthony Davis.
It’s wild to think that a team that went 67-15 during the regular season and 16-5 during their postseason run to a title can say this oft-repeated sports phrase: “Nobody believed in us but the people in this locker room.” While it wouldn’t *exactly* be true in this case (just about everyone who lives in this region and watches the Warriors closely thought they should’ve been the favorites to repeat all along), even local fans and media largely believed they’d win fewer than 67 games this season — even though they might be a better team overall, particularly on offense.
Vegas didn’t believe. Former players didn’t believe. Current players thought the Warriors’ 2014-15 season was mostly due to their supreme good fortune. Most GMs thought it was a fluke and we would see a correction of sorts this time around.
The Warriors burst out of the gates angry, and it showed. Remember how people thought there was a decent chance they’d lose to the up-and-coming Pelicans on opening night after collecting their championship rings, since championship teams have shown time and again that human nature prevents players from performing at their best after such a proud, happy moment?
- They smashed the record for the longest winning streak to start a season.
- They broke the record for the most consecutive home (regular season) wins.
- They snapped their own regular season losing streak in San Antonio last night, because Curry and his teammates solved the Spurs’ defense in the second half and showed once again that the Spurs don’t have the offensive firepower to beat the Warriors.
- They tied the 1995-96 Bulls’ record for wins in a regular season.
They might have accomplished one or two of these feats without outside help, but there’s no way they could’ve made one regular season mean so much if not for so many doubters — doubters who had no idea they were accelerating their own demise with their statements.
Actually, Green will probably take the high road on Wednesday night — assuming they win, of course — and not make a speech like this. There’s no point in making himself a distraction heading into what should be a demanding playoff run. However, even if he doesn’t thank those who dismissed the Warriors over the past year, the doubters shouldn’t feel bad. They’ll always be a part of this and every other amazing accomplishment … even if they don’t want to be, or still want to believe the Warriors don’t deserve to stand with the all-time greats.