Every one remembers that cult classic comedy Dodgeball, right?
Vince Vaughn plays
himself a down-on-his-luck, slobbish everyman--but the most memorable performance and line comes from the villain, played by Ben Stiller. The antagonist, White Goodman, was the prototypical Goliath in every way but in stature. Rich. Immaculate. Arrogant.
Goodman stares directly at the camera, tearing down the fourth wall with a machete, and says "Here at Globo Gym, we're better than you! And we know it!" with a smile. A cogent fact.
Stephen Curry is the new White Goodman, Oracle Arena is the neo-Globo Gym, and the 2015 - 2016 Golden State Warriors have grown into their newfound roles as Goliath.
As recently as midway through last year, I (along with others) saw in Curry (herein a psychological proxy for the Warriors as a collective) an issue with his mindset. Before we go further, though, it's important to address why mindsets are important for NBA players. The NBA season is ~20 games too long. If the 16 - 35 game playoffs are a marathon, then the regular season is an unmanned NASA trip to Mars. As much as paying fans would love to have a guarantee that all 15 players on each side approach each game with 100% emotional and mental conviction, that's just not achievable for 3936 minutes over 170 calendar days.
With that digression out of the way, we have an understanding that part of the multifaceted regular season battle is digging a deep enough well of emotion to draw from for motivation throughout the year. Most teams' wells dry up in the ides of March, if not before. Certain teams, like ones driven by maniacal competitors (e.g. Jordan's 1996 Bulls), never go dry. Staving off emotional desiccation is a common trait between the greatest dynasties of the modern era of basketball.
With that said, last year Curry had the mindset of an underdog. An underdog's emotional well is only as deep as the underdog is disrespected. Curry's well dried up every time the Warriors got significant recognition. It's not his fault--the sun rarely shone on the northern section of the Golden State through Curry's first 6 campaigns. Consequently, Curry and the Warriors had a tendency to almost let up on opponents in situations where they were the favorites. Now, don't misconstrue that to mean they completely faltered. They were, by 2014 - 2015, a talented enough team to kill opponents without a full supply of passion from their well.
This year, however, Curry and co. have evolved. Something is different. Sitting idly over the summer, expecting to hear praise and fear from the national pundits in the wake of their historical season, they instead heard the murmurings of scorn; their performance was a fluke, they said. They were lucky.
When a man does everything within his power, and is still met with dubious gazes from his onlookers, the true mettle of said man is tested. He can become dejected or he could return to his emotional well. And dig deeper. The Warriors did the latter.
And Steph Curry and the Warriors dug right down into a vein of oil and promptly threw their burning victory cigars on it.
Yes, Curry and co. have burst into 2015 - 2016 like burning kerosene. They no longer have the mentality of the underdogs. The disrespect for Goliath was far too egregious for complacency to exist in the minds and hearts of the champions. The results have been staggering. If last season was the emergence of a new NBA superpower, this season appears to be the true apotheosis of this Warriors core.
Draymond Green, ever the heartbeat of the Warriors, spoke on the team's maturation and growth, saying "We really upped our focus level. We haven't been coming like, "Oh, we need to get punched in the mouth to realize teams are gunning for us.' We know that teams are gunning for us and we've taken our intensity to a different level."
It is fairly apparent by now, four blowout games into the season (scoring 100 more points than they've allowed, the largest differential in the first four games for any team, ever) and a dramatic win over their rivals from SoCal that this is the season of aggressive revenge. This season the reigning champion Warriors, moreso than any recent champion, will rule with an iron fist.
We're seeing evidence of their unbreakable regime already. 5 - 0, the best start in half a decade for a defending NBA champion. The Warriors aren't beating teams. They're humiliating them. 50 point deficits. 20 points quarters from the MVP alone. Opposing coaches walking to work the day before their match against the Warriors, trying to conceive of a plan to avoid being embarrassed the next day. The Western Conference is not a plutocracy anymore. It is a dictatorship, run by a singular entity.
That makes the Warriors the villains of this story. The White Goodmans of the NBA. Funnily enough, in Dodgeball's original script, the Average Joes lost to Globo Gym and White Goodman. It was rewritten to make it more appealing to the consumer. The Golden State Warriors are not appealing to the 29 other NBA franchises. They are Goliath, and outside of mythos and the Hollywood Hills, Goliath reigns unobstructed.
Here in Steph's world, we're better than you.
"We're better than we were last year." - Steph Curry https://t.co/eQDtUvWXSa
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 5, 2015
And we know it.