By AMANDA NEPPL / Staff Writer
Whenever anyone ponders *good* basketball players, rarely are they all together on the same team. On July 1st, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant became a free agent after an embarrassing loss for the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the Playoffs. He announced three days later who he had chosen to sign a 2-year contract with for the 2016-2017 NBA season, and certainly the Splash Brothers were not the only ones jumping for joy at his decision.
Durant’s decision was not surprising. “Here’s the thing that’s interesting about Golden State is, their players have been recruiting Kevin Durant all year,” according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski in The Vertical Podcast with Woj from a Bleacher Report article. With perfectly executed plays and high shooting records, Golden State proved that it is possible to like a team – and well-playing team, at that – all in one shot.
Allowing multiple basketball stars to commit to one team could either create confusion, or ideally a real-life dream team. Kevin Durant, according to USA Today’s HoopsHype, is the highest paid athlete on the Warriors, with over $26 million. Klay Thompson, who is in a 4-year contract with Golden State, follows $10 million short of Durant’s paycheck. Draymond Green and Steph Curry as well as Andre Iguodala all range between $11 and $15.5 million, and Green is in a 5-year contract. All of these players hold titles that range from MVP to All-Star player to manifesting a USA Olympic hoops experience one or more times. “Stockpiling superstars is never a bad approach, but the other factors that lead to championship basketball still matter in the end: the supporting cast, the coach, health and chemistry,” says Sam Amick in a USA Today article. This should be no issue for the Warriors, as their ‘selfless’ attitude exudes both when they handle the ball, and how they handle change.
Miami Heat fans who were exasperated when LeBron resigned with Cleveland could empathize with Oklahoma City supporters when Durant left the Thunder. “They make it about the players, they make it about the environment, so it was really an easy choice,” replied Durant during a discussion a few weeks ago. ESPN also reported that Durant’s former teammate and friend Russell Westbrook – saltiness alert – said that Durant’s comments on Golden State’s outlook were “cute.” (I don’t know about you, but all I ever saw during preseason was coverage of this dilemma, and rarely any time on the court.) “We’re going to worry about all the selfish guys we have over here (in OKC) apparently. So we’re going to figure that out,” replied Westbrook after being asked if he thinks Durant’s words were directed towards the Thunder or to him personally. “It’s not a knock on Oklahoma City. It’s not a knock on my past teammates,” he said. “I’m looking forward. I’m not looking backward.”
Tipoff dropped October 25th in Cleveland, as the Cavaliers hosted the New York Knicks. Later on, the San Antonio Spurs played Golden State at home. Spurs forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge dominated the court, but the real MVP goes to Johnathan Simmons for his outstanding block on Steph Curry “that would have made LeBron James proud,” reports Alec Nathan in a Bleacher Report postgame coverage article. Clearly, the Spurs ‘roasted’ Golden State, and it only took the first half to solidify an unwelcomed loss for the Warriors: 129-100.
“Basketball ballet,” comments Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer in an article from The New York Times. A team with such dynamic shooting; with players that fundamentally understand the game of basketball and that collectively maintain a composure that gardens their fan base, the Golden State Warriors are an amazingly undefinable unit. VanDerveer concludes, “They’re the team that everybody wants to be.”