Warriors driven by constant disrespect to repeat NBA Finals success

Warriors, driven by constant disrespect to repeat themselves, originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s always someone, a current or former NBA player, an analyst with a microphone, who can’t resist pouring salt into the Warriors’ celebratory champagne. Like barbecues and trips to the beach, it has become a summertime ritual.

Win a chip, wait for the disrespect.

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams fired the first midsummer blast, declaring the Warriors were the losing NBA Finals team despite winning in six games.

“I don’t follow that stuff,” coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “I think every team that has won a championship has taken breaks along the way, so you can always say that. Should every champion have an asterisk?

“It really doesn’t matter,” Kerr added. “We have the banners.”

Williams’ comments came after former NBA star Tracy McGrady, who didn’t wait until summer, said ahead of Game 1 of the Finals that “the Boston Celtics’ core types will outperform the Golden State Warriors’ core types.”

After losing Game 1, the Warriors won four of the next five to snatch the trophy and stage another save.

Don’t these people know that such overt disparagement ignites anger in these guys? The core trio of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson has spent their NBA career digesting slights and turning them into energy with which to smack back at naysayers. It’s part of their identity.

In the summer of 2017, they heard a chorus of observers insisting that the Warriors, aka the “Super Villains” after adding Kevin Durant, were on hiatus in the Western Conference Finals when Kawhi Leonard was injured in Game 1 . Golden State went on to defeat the San Antonio Spurs by an average winning margin of 16 points and set an NBA record 16-1 in the postseason.

The 2017-18 Warriors faced San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs, winning the series in five games and winning by a 14.2 point average.

In the summer of 2015, then-Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the Warriors were “lucky” that they didn’t have to face his team or the Spurs en route to the Finals.

Frowning collectively, the Warriors responded with 24 straight wins to open the 2015-16 season and equal an NBA-record 73 regular-season wins.

It might have been difficult to see this group, led by a wiry-built point guard, as part of the NBA elite of the time, but isn’t it a form of denial to argue against it five years later?

Were the Warriors really so far down the NBA food chain for the better part of 40 years that winning four championships in eight seasons isn’t enough to silence people who either lost the Finals or watched it on TV?

That’s one explanation for the well-known reaction to Golden State’s 2022 NBA championship, and it’s the only one that makes sense.

It took the NFL’s New England Patriots more than a decade, 14 seasons to be exact, before the league finally got over its inglorious history and began bowing to coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

This fourth Super Bowl, after nine seasons without one, answered all questions about her greatness.

The Warriors? They had four saves in less time and yet doubters examine them with a microscope to expect signs of defects.

After two seasons without a playoff, they were underdogs last season. They should have been, because there was good reason to be skeptical. The core trio opened the season as a duo. They embraced underdog status, thrived in it, and picked up another Larry O’Brien trophy.

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Already convinced? no

“Draymond doesn’t mind the back and forth,” President/General Manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Curry I guess could say it was enough. ‘Just stop. Leave us alone.’ For him it’s like, ‘What are you going to say now?’ And he’s right.

“But someone will say something.”

Naturally. In an ESPN poll of 15 general managers, coaches and scouts, the Clippers received the most votes (eight) to represent the Western Conference in the 2023 NBA Finals. The Warriors and Phoenix Suns took second place with three votes each.

Voting for the 2023 NBA champions went in this order: Clippers (five votes), Milwaukee Bucks and Celtics with four votes each in second place, and the Warriors with two.

Discuss, if you will, whether this is the latest salvo of hate or disrespect. There’s little doubt that it’s food for fuel.

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