Shortly after Kevin Durant all but single-handedly ended the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season by producing a 43-point, 13-rebound masterpiece in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, NBA Twitter exploded with hot takes: KD ruined the NBA. The Warriors are boring. There’s no competitive balance.
Players around the NBA were openly begging Durant to leave the Warriors. Media members from all over the country were tweeting about the league stinking.
It’s one thing to openly express how fatigued you are with the Warriors tangoing with the Cavs for the fourth straight Finals. I get that, but to quibble about the Warriors’ dominance over the last four years tells me that there’s no appreciation for some truly high-level basketball.
What’s happening in the Bay Area is basketball nirvana. It’s four future Hall of Famers subsuming themselves under a team-first concept. A team that can master its craft and remain focused on being the best over an extended period of time isn’t dull. It’s refreshing. A team that dominates by passing — averaging over 320 per game during the season — isn’t stultifying. It’s divine. Why wouldn’t any real basketball fan want to see a team that dominates so unselfishly while punishing opponents for their blunders?
“I mean, it’s almost like playing the Patriots, you can’t have mistakes,” LeBron James said after Game 4. “They’re not going to beat themselves. You know, so when you’re able to either force a miscue on them, you have to be able to capitalize and you have to be so in tuned and razor sharp and focused every single possession. You can’t have a miscommunication, you can’t have flaws, you can’t have ‘my faults’ or ‘my bads’ or things like that, because they’re going to make you pay. When they make you pay, it’s a 3-0 or 6-0 or 9-0 run, and it comes in bunches.”
What’s boring about that? Being razor-sharp against the Warriors is a requirement — one that doesn’t even guarantee a victory. Ask the Houston Rockets. Or the Cavs. Or the rest of the league. Seriously, the Warriors can erase a double-digit deficit with a six-minute avalanche at any moment of a game.
The Warriors are like Mike Tyson in his prime: you knew he was going to knock his opponent out into another country. It was only a matter of when. That’s what kept us on edge. It’s the same feeling with these Warriors. They out-scored opponents by 153 points in the third quarter over the course of the regular season and postseason. They can flip a game on its head in an instant.
This postseason, Golden State shot 51.6 percent off the catch, with the highest percentage of their shots coming with no dribbles. During the regular season — the Warriors’ worst in the current run — they led the league in field goal percentage off the catch (55.2 percent), three-point shooting off the catch (40.4 percent) and shot a higher percentage of their field goals without dribbling than all but the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s a quick-strike offense. And yet, they’re boring?
Stephen Curry’s third quarter flurries are one of the best shows in all of sport. His playground handles and majestic three-point shooting never become tiresome, nor does Durant’s assassin-like offense explosions.
Klay Thompson is one of the best jump shooters the NBA has ever seen — a shot-maker who can go unconscious at any moment.
What’s boring about that? Why do these obtuse declarations get spewed into the stratosphere whenever a team excels at a historic rate? It makes no sense.
Where’s the respect for a team that’s gone on the best four-year run in the history of the NBA? Peep their regular season record of 265-63 under Steve Kerr — the best four-year stretch in the history of NBA. In the playoffs, they’ve been even better, going 63-20 (.759), including their 16-1 run in 2017.
Talking heads and opposing players don’t care about those statistical figures. C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers tweeted shortly after Game 3 that Durant should move on from Golden State.
Heck, McCollum stated that he’d rather get swept out of the playoffs (which is exactly what happened to him in the first round) than pull a move like Durant and sign with a team that beat him in the conference finals.
That’s loser talk. You do what you have to do to win titles, while maximizing your talent. Durant has done that here in the Bay Area in a system that gets this bucket-getter easier shots.
Grown men are moaning, trying to convince another grown man what to do with his life and career.
“They are always going to talk,” Durant told Complex back in May of 2017. “Nobody is ever going to be happy, no matter what you do. Definitely, I’ve got a lot of support out here. We get a lot of support. But someone is always going to discredit anything good that happens.”
Many Warriors scoff at people knocking them for being excellent. Folks want to punish them for being a force, and knock the franchise for having the wherewithal to put themselves in position to sign a talent like Durant in the summer of 2016.
“I think the rest of the NBA has to get better,” Klay Thompson said before Game 1 of the Finals. “It’s not our fault.”
This is a group of men who get paid millions of dollars to play a kids game. The Warriors play with joy.
“I don’t think any of us take ourselves too seriously, and we just appreciate what we get to do for a living,” Curry said after Game 4. “Coach does a great job of keeping that perspective as we go through — I should say as we’ve gone through each of these four title runs. Win or lose, we appreciate just what we get to do every single day.”
So like Thompson said, it’s time for the NBA to try to catch up. In the meantime, enjoy this historic run, a run that has no end in sight. The Warriors certainly are.
Boring? That’s laughable.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.