Maybe this isn’t a widely shared take, but I’ve never disliked the Golden State Warriors.
I never got tired of them when they made five straight NBA Finals appearances from 2015-19, winning three titles in the process.
I felt no animosity toward them when Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world in 2017, left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the 73-win Warriors, who knocked him out of the postsason the year before, in a controversial move.
Throughout all of the victories, the championships and the parades, I never once got angry at them. In fact, I’ve pulled for them every step of the way.
It’s interesting because, as so many sports fans do, I typically dislike teams that experience consistent success and shove it in our faces.
When I was at the lunch table in high school, there wasn’t enough time in the day for me to express my disdain for the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots or the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat as much as I wanted to. That’s partly because the attention they garnered was, at times, unbearable, but also because they were just so daggone good.
Now that I’m an adult, I can admit that.
But the Warriors, despite them being arguably the best NBA dynasty of my lifetime, have always gotten a pass in my mind.
And after they took down the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of this season’s NBA Finals on Monday night, I think I’ve finally figured out why: sports are simply better when Golden State is winning.
When they’re on, there may not be a more exciting team in all of professional sports.
Hate ‘em or love ‘em, the Warriors are absolutely must-watch TV.
Steph Curry, the greatest shooter in NBA history, is currently having one of the best Finals performances of his career — and, quite possibly, all-time.
Curry, a name engrained in the fabric of North Carolina basketball history, has constantly gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to credit for the Warriors’ success.
When they win, people love to credit teammates like Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, or even — after winning Finals MVP in 2015 — Andre Iguodala. But when they lose, people often chalk it up to Curry not showing up on the big stage.
Aside from Game 5, when Curry scored just 16 points on 32% shooting (0-for-9 from three-point range in his first-ever playoff game without a triple), he’s been magnificent throughout these Finals.
Curry’s been the leading scorer on his team in four out of five games, including a 43-point, 10-rebound performance in a must-win Game 4 in Boston. He’s had to deal with a spotty Thompson and a nearly nonexistent Green, yet the Warriors still have a 3-2 lead heading into a potential series-clincher on Thursday.
In short, this postseason has shown why Curry is not only one of the greatest basketball players to walk this earth, but why he’s also one of the most exhilarating to watch.
However, as special as he’s been, Curry doesn’t deserve all of the shine.
Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr — who, as crazy as it sounds, has never lost a playoff series before the Finals in eight seasons as an NBA head coach — has always found a way to get the best out of his role players. And this season’s no different.
In Game 5, some of the most electrifying plays came from Andrew Wiggins — who was once thought of as a bust after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2014, but is finally hitting his stride with the Warriors as a legitimate threat — and Jordan Poole, who combined for 40 points, a third-quarter-buzzer-beating heave and a game-sealing poster dunk in the win.
Like some sort of coaching magician, Kerr has had no trouble getting players like Wiggins, Poole, Iguodala, Kevon Looney, David West and plenty of others to play well above their potential in big-time moments over the last eight seasons.
And every single time, unless you’re a fan of the Warriors’ opponent, it’s just so fun to watch.
After a fairly boring postseason, with so many games and series consisting of blowout-after-blowout, these Finals have been incredibly refreshing.
That’s why I’m crossing my fingers for the Celtics to come out firing in Game 6 on Thursday, taking care of business on their home floor to keep their season alive and force a Game 7 that will decide the 2022 NBA champion.
Because getting to see Golden State play one last time, with the Chase Center rockin’ at full force in a winner-take-all barnburner, will be a treat unlike any other.
Let’s make it happen, Boston. Don’t let me down.
Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.
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