The NBA’s Biggest Problem? Warriors
Finally...October! We cheered (or jeered) at our team’s picks in the draft, we checked the free-agent and trade rumor wires hourly, we got a good look at the rookies and sophs in the Summer League, we bought the League Pass, and now it all comes together this month as the NBA season tips off.
The league is more popular now than it ever has been. And I’m more excited now than I ever have been for a season to start. However, that excitement comes with an asterisk beside it...a dark cloud looming over it...a helpless, jealous feeling attached to it...THE WARRIORS! To get to the point, the Warriors are bad for the NBA.
They create the worst kind of fan. The kind who nods his head towards the TV and says “Did you see the game tonight? Steph went off!” All while you don’t know him, you’re not a Warriors fan, and you’re just trying to close out your tab at the bar. The kind who, at the same said bar, is livid after a December loss on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. A fan who, in an attempt to cover up his lack of knowledge of his “favorite” team (and prove he’s a diehard) overcompensates by theatrically and verbally demonstrating his anger over an understandable, routine loss.
If you’re from the Bay area, by all means, tell the barber you want a flat-top, pull on that now-too-tight Mullin jersey, and enjoy another dominant season. But if you’re from anywhere else, buy a damn hat for your hometown team. On a daily basis I see more Warriors fan gear in NYC than I see for the Knicks. And I work eight blocks from the Garden! This is bad for the NBA.
We all know the story, in 2015-16 the Warriors set an NBA season wins record (the year after winning the championship). That off-season they added arguably the purest scorer in league history, former MVP, and one of the highest paid players in the league, Kevin Durant. The Warriors then won the next two championships in nine games. This off-season they added arguably the best big man in the league, 4-time All-Star, and (until now) one of the highest paid players in the league, Demarcus Cousins. This is bad for the NBA.
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Just to clarify, I’m not saying the Warriors as a franchise, as a team or as players are bad for the NBA. I’m saying the idea of the Warriors is bad for the NBA. The manifestation of what they’ve been allowed to do with their roster is bad for the NBA. Barring not one, but two season-ending injuries to key players, we all know who is going to win the championship again this year. This, worst of all, is bad for the NBA.
The NBA is growing exponentially right now due to modernizing its marketing while embracing the youthful fashion, hip-hop and gaming culture that surrounds it. Adam Silver is doing everything he can to appeal to as many fans as possible across the globe. And, in my opinion, the only thing that could derail the huge popularity surge the league is experiencing is more boring playoffs and more boring Finals. I don’t know what, but something has to be done about this.
Rules/restrictions have to be put in place...elimination of 4-5 franchises so the talent disparity throughout the league is more balanced...throw out and rethink the whole salary cap system...something. I can’t claim to know the ins and outs of the NHL salary cap system, but I do know there have been 12 different Stanley Cup winners in the last 19 seasons. And only one back-to-back champion, so they’re doing something right.
I’m not a league executive, I’m just a fan. If someone wants to pay me millions of dollars to sit around all day and think of ways to improve the NBA I’ll have a report ready by Friday. But, until then, it’s not my job to come up with a solution that creates a more competitively balanced league. However, there are many people whose job it is to do precisely that. And they need to get to work. Because if the league executives keep enabling “superteams” and if we continue to have season after season where only 10% of the teams, and more importantly, 10% of the fans have any hope for a Chip, then the league’s appeal and popularity is going to suffer tremendously. Then the bottom line will suffer tremendously. Then (and likely only then) the execs will do something about it.
I had all the respect in the world for the Warriors...they built a powerhouse through scouting, the draft and home-grown talent. They did it right. Then they did it wrong. And have been, well within the rules, continuing to do so. To quote one of my all-time favorites, Vince Carter, from an ESPN interview on chasing rings “I come from an era where that’s not how it was...it’s just not for me.” As for myself, I couldn’t agree more.