Now measured by decimal points rather than whole numbers, Anderson Varejao’s stats can only be described as pathetic.
In the 2015-16 season, Varejao averaged 2.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 0.2 BLKPG — down from career averages of around 7 PPG and 7 RPG. So it is no wonder that many in Dub Nation are scratching their heads about the Warriors’ decision to keep Varejao over fan-favorite Marreese Speights (who can actually shoot the ball).
It makes sense that fans would be disgruntled, confused or even angry. But instead of letting collective frustration build toward a Lord of the Flies moment, let’s look at some reasons Dub Nation should embrace the 6’11” Brazilian.
1. Coach Steve Kerr said so.
Only time will tell if this experiment will work out. But Kerr did coach the team to a championship in the 2014-15 season, and to the Finals the very next year – with the team smashing records along the way. Plus, he has titles as a player, from his days of shooting lights-out for the Bulls. In other words, he knows how to win. So if Kerr sees Varejao as a part of a winning formula, perhaps we should believe in him.
Before the ink was dry on the deal to bring Varejao to Oakland, Kerr stated in an interview that he was attractive to the team because he is a 5 rather than a 4. “We felt Anderson would fill a void in terms of the depth that we have at the center spot,” Kerr said. “We also think he’s the perfect fit for the way we play. He’s a playmaker … [and] one of our strengths is the ability to play-make at multiple positions.”
With such an impressive resume as both a player and a coach, Kerr has earned our respect. Therefore, we should have faith in his decisions, watch how things unfold and abandon the #FireKerr shenanigans for now.
2. Players love the guy.
Varejao is highly regarded as a team-first guy with the reputation of being a stabilizing presence in the locker room. He is known for his ritual of greeting each guy as he enters the locker room after a game — making sure to be the last to enter. It’s his way of showing respect for his teammates, and it is something he probably has been doing his entire career.
He is held in such high esteem that LeBron James, in his “I’m coming back to Cleveland” essay, referred to Varejao as “one of my favorite teammates.”
Leandro Barbosa, Varejao’s teammate on the Brazil National Team, recruited him heavily – calling to let him know how much he was wanted in Oakland and getting other guys on the phone to speak with him also.
Speights and Luke Walton also strongly endorsed his character.
3. He’s in the NBA history books.
By starting the 2015-16 season with the Cavs and ending it with the Warriors, Varejao became the only player in NBA history to play in the Finals against a team he had been on during the same season. Sure, it sucks that he and the Warriors were on the losing side — and some may even blame him for jinxing the team — but Varejao is in the history books nonetheless. At minimum, it’s a story he can tell his grandkids when he’s old and gray.
4. He’s got mad loyalty.
After the Cavs won the championship, they did not offer Varejao a championship ring even though he had contributed to the team’s success in the first half of the season. The Cavs stated they would send him a ring if he expressed interest. What kind of shit is that? Most NBA players automatically would be interested in a championship ring they earned and, therefore, should not be made to make a special request. This is typical
shady Dan Gilbert shenanigans. No self-respecting human would go groveling before his former team for a piece of jewelry — not even for a championship ring. Apparently, Varejao is a self-respecting human:
Considering that he spent more than 11 years in Cleveland, this shows an impressive amount of loyalty and dedication to his new team.
5. Varejao knows how to get to the line.
Some call it flopping; others call it drawing a charge. Either way, Varejao tricks his opponents into fouls and when he makes it to the line his free-throws usually go in. It’s not the best thing to be known for, but
flopping drawing charges gives him the opportunity to add points to the team’s total.
6. He is not afraid to stand his ground.
Players like to disrespect Varejao, most likely because he tricks them into
fouling him getting called for fouls — or, maybe it’s the hair. Either way, he clearly gets under the skin of his opponents and doesn’t back down. But when they shove, he won’t hesitate to shove back. And that’s the kind of toughness any fan wants to see on the court (minus the whole technical foul/ejection part of it).
7. Varejao is a fan-favorite.
This was the case in Cleveland, at least. Cavs fans loved their “Andy” so much that news of his trade to Golden State brought a child to tears.
Dub Nation needs to stop and look in the mirror on this one. Do Warriors fans want to be known as the fan base that hates a player so many have come to love? Coming in second for the NBA championship was bad enough. Can Dub Nation really afford to come in second in the love-for-Varejao department, too? (Hey, I’m just asking questions here.)
8. He has fun hair.
And the fans loved that, too! It’s hard to imagine Bay Area fans decked out in curly wigs at Roaracle. But the Cleveland fans certainly got a kick out of Wig Night.
9. He has excellent taste in cars.
Yes, that’s him — a young Anderson Varejao — in the hot red racer (pictured here with siblings and cousins in Brazil).
10. Varejao knows how to party.
… if this is your idea of a good time.
The frosting hair — or is it licorice? — looks horrendous. But it’s the thought that counts, right?
Okay, so maybe Warriors fans will never extend a full-on, lovey-dovey embrace to Anderson Varejao. But maybe Kerr will work him into the system wondrously and he will at least earn the respect of Dub Nation
and avoid the plight of Piggy.