There’s an insidious malaise creeping into our fan base.
Fans are losing faith in the Golden State Warriors. The impact seems to be mostly felt among the casual fans — I keep hearing about people who have “sorta lost interest” or just generally stopped tracking what’s going on.
Is Durant still hurt? they ask. They’ve been kinda bad this year, they’ll claim.
Or even worse, proselytizing that the Warriors are not good enough to make the 2018 NBA Finals.
More than anything, I’ve been feeling like this season has had the opposite effect of the electrifying “We Believe” team that made such an exciting push into the 2007 playoffs (before being bounced in the second round). Like a magnet that has flipped polarities, the Warriors’ fan base seems to be repelling crazed fanatics rather than drawing them in.
With the resurgence of the Houston Rockets, and a Golden State team that has been battling injuries and roster inconsistency all season, the Warriors are no longer the hot thing in the NBA. The impact of this new normal on our fan base has been significant.
It’s not even necessarily that the team isn’t as good as they have been previously — it’s the sense that they’re simply not as exciting. We’ve been conditioned by consecutive years of success. Our puny brains have rewired the events of the past four years so that every passing moment is judged by highlights rather than averages.
Now it seems like every time Klay Thompson gets hot, he needs to score more points than dribbles and go for 60 points in three quarters. If Draymond Green isn’t hitting threes at the highest rate of his career, he’s unplayable in certain matchups.
And while Steph Curry — arguably the most impactful player in the entire league — is out and the team struggles, people immediately jump ship.
Let’s all just stop and breathe for a moment.
Remembering our roots & our aspirations
Looking back on that old We Believe team, it was just so sexy that it hurt. Not in the traditional way of course, but they had serious emotional pull:
It’s a romantic idea: a bunch of misfits—we’re talking faded stars with checkered pasts and bum knees, tweeners drafted in the second round or not at all, players once discarded for expiring contracts—could come together to form a nasty unit, coached by a grizzled innovator out to satisfy a final vendetta. Frankly, it’s all too sweet for my taste, and probably yours, too.
Unless, of course, you believe.
You have to dig a little deeper to find that same palpable love now. Other than maybe Quinn Cook (who has been a fantastic story), these Warriors aren’t the up and coming world-smashers that the We Believe team was. In fact, we are now significantly closer to being Goliath than any sort of David in this story.
But you should dig deeper to find that love if you care about this team.
After suffering for decades, our team is finally at the pinnacle of the NBA. They’ve revolutionized the game in a way that Don Nelson always wished he could. Teams are now blatantly admitting that they’re constructing their roster and team philosophies specifically to defeat the Warriors.
This is exactly the scenario that it takes to become a dynasty.
You don’t sweep your way through the playoffs in consecutive years. You don’t smash all-time records every single season as your team plows through the rest of the league like that one Mythbusters episode where they built that car that would defeat gridlock by plowing through the traffic like it was a Hollywood blockbuster.
In fact, the only way a dynasty happens is the hard way.
Nah, this is supposed to be hard.
You may have seen this stat before, but it bears repeating: the Warriors aren’t just going through Curry’s recent injury. There has been a pattern of injuries all season.
Warriors have used 27 different starting lineups this year.
They used 14 all of last regular season.
— Brian Witt (@Wittnessed) April 9, 2018
The Houston Rockets surprised a lot of people this year, and currently lead the NBA by a fairly wide margin, but they didn’t come out of nowhere; both Houston and Golden State are about to enter their sixth consecutive post season. The Toronto Raptors, the top team in the East, are not far behind them and will be appearing in their fifth playoffs in a row.
These are both very good teams that have not had the same postseason success as the Warriors, but if anything, it should cement just how special the recent run has been. The Spurs have been to 21 straight playoffs, and “only” have five championships to show for it. The Warriors have two in the past three seasons.
Believe in that.
Believe in the players, and the team, and the coaches. If a ragtag group of misfits could energize the fan base in 2007, why is it that our team of perennial All-Stars in 2018 is seeing so much doubt, and engendering as much ennui as excitement?
The playoffs start this weekend.
Feel free to hop off the bandwagon if that’s your thing, I’m not judging. But this feels like a seminal moment in Warriors fandom that is separating the fair weather fans from the die hards.
The We Believe team was born on January 18, 2007 when we traded for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. That team was a pedestrian 19-20 at the time… they finished the season with a record of 42-40 – barely breaking above .500.
This Warriors team was born on July 4th, 2016 when Kevin Durant announced that his Next Chapter would be written in Oakland. That Warriors team won 67 games. This team is still nearly identical and will finish with just shy of 60 wins. Even while fighting through injuries, we still have an extremely talented group that can beat any team on a given night.
It’s ok to have doubts, but don’t be “out” on the Warriors making it all the way this year. They’ve earned our Belief.
Unwavering and unstoppable, baby!
Believe in that.