Kevin Durant & Golden State Warriors: the last but not the only dominant NBA team
Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in 2016 and they’re currently battling it out with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Many people criticize the dominance held by Durant and the Warriors : are they too big to fail ? That said, the Warriors are not the only example of a dominant team in the History of the NBA. Let’s also try to understand why Durant’s decision shocked so many people.
In 2016, after leading the series 3 games- to 1, Oklahoma City Thunder lost the Western Conference Finals 4-3 against the Golden State Warriors. Then came the NBA Finals, where the Cleveland Cavaliers, lead by LeBron James, won against the Warriors. It was the first time in the history of the NBA Finals that a team reversed a 3-1 loss to take the championship title with a 4-3 victory. On that historic day, with his clutch block shot on Andre Iguodola, LeBron James definitively solidified his place as an NBA legend.
During the summer of 2016, Kevin Durant made the decision to join the Warriors. Many people criticized him for joining the Warriors, following their victory against Oklahoma City Thunder.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and now Kevin Durant in the same team ? Too easy ! The Warriors’ dominance is almost stifling competition, and with a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, we can safely bet that the Warriors will take the NBA title in 2017…
The NBA microcosm has a short-term memory. Let’s go back in time and evaluate whether the Warriors are the first NBA team to get such dominant and talented players destroying the competition!
Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, John Havlicek… With this selection of All-Stars and Hall of Famers players, the Boston Celtics won 11 NBA titles between 1957 and 1969. Bill Russell and Bob Cousy each won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the regular season award and played in the same team…like Stephen Curry (in 2015 and 2016) and Kevin Durant (2014)…
In 1986, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Bill Walton and Danny Ainge won the NBA title. Bird and Walton were also two regular season MVPs playing together.
2) Los Angeles Lakers (in the Eighties)
Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, Michael Cooper. 5 NBA titles, 8 NBA Finals… What else ? Add to that two’ regular season MVP’s : Magic and Jabbar. It was the « Showtime » area.
3) Chicago Bulls in 1996, 1997 and 1998
This is probably the most comparable team to the Warriors, despite Michael Jordan being the solo winner of the MVP award for the regular season (5 times) while playing for the Bulls. Firstly, because the Warriors beat the regular season record of victories to the Bulls in 2016 : 73 victories- 9 defeats against 72-10 for the Bulls in 1996. Ironically, Warriors lost the NBA Finals against the Cavaliers the same year. Secondly, because Steve Kerr, head coach of the Warriors, was a former player of the Chicago Bulls’s. Thirdly, because the two teams don’t have a dominant center player. Lastly, because Draymond Green is one of the few strong defensive players like Dennis Rodman was during his time with the Bulls. Another thing Green and Rodman have in common is their share of controversial behavior on the court. Speaking of Rodman, when Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors, Jordan was sceptical toward Durant’s choice. But in 1995, after losing in the Playoffs against Orlando Magic, Jordan didn’t seem shocked to see Rodman join the Bulls a few months later… Rodman was the best rebounder ( 7 times from 1992 to 1998 !) and two times Best Defensive Player of the year. But also, (maybe just after Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer) Jordan’s worst enemy in NBA when Rodman played for the Detroit Pistons…
Anyway, with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls consistently destroyed on the court and won the NBA title three times.
In 2010, LeBron James decided to join the Miami Heats and won two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. Basketball is a team sport and he didn’t win alone : Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen were all respectable, title-winning players… In 2014, James then decided to make his return to Cleveland Cavaliers, whose only star-player at the time was Kyrie Irving. James contract gave him the option to become a free agent, after one year, if things didn’t work out if so-wished. In the months that followed, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert joined the Cavaliers. And things worked out : Three NBA Finals, one NBA title (unless if, this year again…). With the satisfaction to obtain head coach David Blatt’s firing, because LeBron James didn’t appreciate his coaching. As he did with Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan criticized James’ choice for only playing in the big teams and for not taking a few risks. Interestingly, LeBron James is perhaps one of the few people to understand Durant’s decision to join the Warriors. Maybe because he did the same in a ridiculous TV show a few years ago ? Or to position himself for a General Manager position in future, following his successes as an All-Star player and First Vice-President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
Undoubtedly, the Warriors have skilled players. Since 2015, they’ve created a new way to play basketball : movements, three-point binges, fast breaks, strong defense, a good architect on the bench (Steve Kerr). Independent of Kevin Durant ‘s addition to the team, the Warriors deserve their success.
Thanks Khoko for your help