Warriors Win NBA Title, As Expected

There have been dynasties in American team sports before. But this one feels different.

The Golden State Warriors have won their third NBA championship in four years. It would be four straight if Draymond Green had more self-control and hadn’t gotten himself ejected two years ago.

We’ve had dynasties before. Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics. John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Terry Bradshaw’s Pittsburgh Steelers. The Joe Montana/Steve Young San Francisco 49ers. The Troy Aikman Dallas Cowboys. UConn women’s basketball and the New England Patriots are dynasties now, always a heavy favorite to win a title.

But this feels different. The team is stacked in a way that the outcome feels inevitable. They have four likely Hall of Famers on the roster in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Green. When they’re all healthy at the same time, they’re simply unbeatable.

This isn’t really supposed to happen in the modern era. In the old days, a team that consistently drafted well could keep their core players together indefinitely. But the rise of free agency and salary caps was supposed to put an end to that. Indeed, it pretty much broke up the 1990s Cowboys team, as they simply couldn’t afford to keep their tertiary stars because other teams could outbid Jerry Jones for them.

Interestingly, LeBron James, who has been on the losing end of all three Warriors championships in this run thus far, initiated the modern “super team” when he got together with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. They were supposed to win not 1, not 2, not 3 . . . titles but only managed two because Wade and/or Bosh were constantly injured in critical stretches. Still, they went to the NBA Finals all four years they were together before James went back to Cleveland.

James himself has been to eight straight finals. But he’s done it in the way we were used to: a superstar paired with a couple of star players, albeit in a rotating cast. Because of injuries, the Wade he played with was a pale imitation of who he was in his prime. He had Kyrie Irvin for three years but he, too, is oft-injured. Kevin Love is a five-time All-Star seems to be injured when it counts just about every year.

The Warriors did it the “right” way in assembling the trio of Curry, Thompson, and Green via the draft. Adding Durant, arguably the best of the four, in free agency two years ago feels like it cheapens the last two championships, though. It’s well within the rules for players to accept less money than they could get elsewhere to chase rings. And, again, James showed the way eight years ago.

Still, it’s seemingly inevitable that they’ll be back in the Finals the next several years and as the odds-on favorites. The only obstacles, really, are injury, Father Time, and ego.

James is once again a free agent and most think he’ll leave Cleveland. Maybe he’ll go form another superteam in Houston, Philadelphia, or L.A. Hell, maybe he’ll join the Warriors and turn the whole thing into a farce.

FILED UNDER: Sports, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mister Bluster says:

    Next game October 16. Can’t Wait. Go Warriors!

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  2. PT says:

    Welcome to L.A. Lebron!

    We’ll take Kawhi Leonard too 🙂

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  3. James Pearce says:

    I was hoping for a Rockets-Celtics Finals… There would probably still be a few games left.

    James is once again a free agent and most think he’ll leave Cleveland.

    As a basketball fan not loyal to the Cavs at all, I’d like to see him go play for a better team.

    Or the Nuggets. I mean, I’d be cool with either.

    I just don’t want to see him dragging the Cavaliers behind him anymore.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @James Pearce: Yeah. It’s not a very good cast of supporting characters. Then again, LeBron has essentially been his own general manager. He likes to bring his guys along with him and have them paid far more than they’d get on any other team, thus hamstringing the team. He ran off Kyrie, easily the best player he’s ever had on any team (again, Wade was past his prime).

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  5. @PT:

    We’ll take Kawhi Leonard too

    Kawhi + LB would do the Lakers a lot of favors.

    I still don’t get what caused the Kawhi-Pop beef…

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  6. teve tory says:

    What makes Draymond Green so good is his ridiculous instinct to Scram Switch. It stops mismatches coming off screens so, say, Lebron can’t screen into being guarded by Curry and then shoot over him all day long. Draymond sees that stuff coming from a mile away and by the time the switch happens, Draymond is already in the guy’s face.

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  7. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    He ran off Kyrie, easily the best player he’s ever had on any team

    That was bizarre. Not sure that really worked out for Irving the way he thought it would.

    The Celtics looked pretty good without him.

    I’d take Irving for the Nuggets too though. We’ll take him up to Pikes Peak and give him some binoculars. “Check it out. You can actually see the curvature of the earth.”

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  8. al Ameda says:

    The Warriors did it the “right” way in assembling the trio of Curry, Thompson, and Green via the draft. Adding Durant, arguably the best of the four, in free agency two years ago feels like it cheapens the last two championships, though. It’s well within the rules for players to accept less money than they could get elsewhere to chase rings. And, again, James showed the way eight years ago.

    Amazing that Durant still takes crap for his decision to sign on with a team that is talented to be sure, but selfless and dedicated to team play.

    I have a feeling that Durant tired of the drama that surrounded playing along side a supremely talented diva like Russ Westbrook. Too much ego at play. On the Warriors he’s surrounded by guys for whom winning is the first objective and the stats take care of themselves. In on boarding Durant there was an adjustment for the entire team to make, but it doesn’t happen unless Steph Curry sublimates his ego for the larger good. He did, they keep winning

    To me it seems clear that the Warriors do not win the last two championships without Durant.

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  9. Guarneri says:

    It feels different alright. The NBA’s ole’ defense has diminished the game to a version of horse. Its no longer watchable.

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  10. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @James Pearce: This is sports gossip. Kyrie wanted to be the Alpha male on his own team and threatened to have season ending knee surgery the following season if not traded.

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  11. Mr. Bluster says:

    Its (sic) no longer watchable.
    The only way you could form such a lame ass opinion is by watching NBA games.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @al Ameda: Because it’s essentially never happened before in American team sports, it somehow seems unsporting for the second best player in the game to join what was already the best team. It’s even “worse” because the team he joined had just beaten the team he left in the Western Conference Finals. While I fully understand why he would tire of playing with Russell Westbrook, it comes across as “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

    Again, he had every right to do what he did under the rules. And it says a lot about Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry, especially, that the addition of another superstar was handled so smoothly. But it somehow feels off.

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  13. Laurence R Burton says:

    And then there’s the simple reality that Western Conference is heads and shoulders better, and has been for about twenty years or so. There were probably four teams in the West that would have beaten Cleveland soundly, and two or three more that would have given them a six or seven game series. I love the NBA, but it’s pretty hard to engage in the NBA Finals when you know that the real championship series was already played between the Rockets and the Warriors.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @Laurence R Burton:

    I love the NBA, but it’s pretty hard to engage in the NBA Finals when you know that the real championship series was already played between the Rockets and the Warriors.

    This happens routinely in the NFL, although no conference has been dominant quite so long in my memory. But, in the 1980s and 1990s, the NFC was clearly the better conference and its championship was the defacto Super Bowl. Indeed, from 1981 to 1996, the winner won the Super Bowl every year but one (14 of 15). The AFC has been less dominant from 1997 to 2017, winning only 13 of 21, but the New England Patriots have been the dominant team in the League most of that period.

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