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Why do people hate Harrison Barnes but love David Lee?

As rumors swirl that David Lee could make a Warriors return, we examine the divide between fans' love for him and their disdain for Harrison Barnes.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After convincing Kevin Durant to come west and bath in the glory of a golden, Silicon-Valley-money-infused-wonder-vision, the Warriors were forced to renounce their rights to Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, as well as trade beloved big man Andrew Bogut. Andrew and Harrison will reunite in Dallas, whereas Festus will find a home within the next few days.

Given the uncertainty of the roster beyond the "Big Four plus one" of Stephen Curry, Kevin Freakin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, the Dubs will be forced to get creative to fill out the bench. They made their first big move last night, as they signed former Dallas big man (and almost-NBA-starter) Zaza Pachulia to a one year, $2.9M deal.

However, could we see another member of the Mavericks’ frontcourt make his way to the Bay? A certain blonde haired, beloved former-Dub?

Via TMZ:

"We’ll see what happens," he said, multiple times as those dudes got up in his face. Man... I hate basing pieces off of TMZ videos, but that’s the unfortunate world in which we live. If you’re famous, and if you’re out and about, and if your name has been floated in rumors about rejoining your former team, some loud-mouthed kid with a camera is gonna chase you down at a Fourth of July party and scream-yell some questions about your basketballing future.

"We’ll see what happens, you guys are great," he said, grimace-smiling as he tried to get into his car to bounce outta that scene.

But, could this actually come to fruition? Could we see Lee make a return to the Warriors? And beyond the basic cap/money implications, would you want this to happen?

Even though David Lee’s defense was never, um, stellar, and even though he starred on a series of lovable but ultimately ineffective Warriors squads, what is it about DLee that inspires such loyalty from a large swath of fans? Why is it that we are so quick to embrace him, when we are just as quick to hate hard on Harrison Barnes?

Perhaps Tim Kawakami put it best:

When the Warriors landed Kevin Durant, some people were arguably just as excited that it meant now the team would never have to consider matching a max deal for Barnes. In his piece yesterday, Nate Parham said, "To be quite honest, the Warriors not matching that contract for Barnes is almost as big a relief as landing Durant is satisfying."


Tell ‘em what you think!

But, I’d be lying if I said I felt differently. The idea of Harrison Barnes being the highest paid player on this team just felt....ugh. I felt like Steven Adams in this picture. It just felt wrong, even given the market, and given some other stupid contracts we’d just seen agreed upon (what’s up Mozgov?). We always knew that someone would offer Barnes the max, and then depending on Durant’s decision, the Warriors would be forced to match if KD left them at the alter.

Luckily, as Nate said, we never have to worry about that again.

But the deeper point is: Why do many Warriors fans love David Lee unconditionally, while hating Harrison Barnes?

Harrison is a smart, hardworking, likable, interesting dude. I’ll love him forever after he made this video, with the Mercury News’ Marcus Thompson.

You don’t often find a player with his depth of curiosity, empathetic smile, and sense of humor. Or, rather, those types of guys don’t always open up to the media, or to the fans. So why were people so dark on him?

It couldn’t just be his lack of ball handling, or his no-show in Games 5, 6, and 7 in the finals. Because if our irrational love or hatred of certain players was purely based upon their basketballing skills, we’d surely hold a grudge against David Lee as well, right? (Cue Nate nodding ferociously).

Perhaps it’s because David Lee was like our first love. David Lee, alongside Stephen Curry, took the Warriors out of the basement of irrelevance and placed them on a national stage. For the first time since 2005, people were taking notice of the goings on in the Bay. Hey man, the first cut is the deepest. No matter what David does, he’ll always be loved.

However, Harrison Barnes is more like the popular girl (Becky) in high school who you always had a huge crush on but then when you finally drunkenly hooked up years later on Thanksgiving Eve when you were both home from college, it was wildly, wildly unsatisfying. All your crazed expectations could never be met. There’s no way Becky could ever be as cool/smart/interesting as you’d always dreamed. And, simultaneously, you realize that spunky girl named Meghan — who everybody always thought was kind of cool but no one actually wanted to date cuz she had a really strange laugh — suddenly turned into a bombshell and is finishing up her physics degree from Harvard and is the founder of some dope music festival that was recently acquired by AEG and you’re like, "godamn Meghan, I love you. Why did I ever think Becky was so hot?! WHYYYYYY." Meghan is Draymond Green in this scenario, duh.

So, you inevitably start throwing shade at Becky because you’re embarrassed you ever fell for her so hard. And then Becky is like, "Yo, you gonna put a ring on this, or what?" And you’re like, "Yo, what about this [moderately priced, simple] ring," and she’s like, "Yo, you wanna put a ring on this you need to bring that BLING." So you stall and wait and see what’s gonna happen, but then at the last moment Mark Cuban swoops in and gives her that dope ring and you don’t ever have to look at those depressing Kay Jeweler websites ever again.

Also, in this scenario, Kevin Durant is just still Kevin Durant, awkwardly sitting in the middle of the room as you try to figure out your complicated love life and you’re like, "Yo Kevin Durant, what’s good?"

He nods, sagely, and proceeds to get buckets.

But anyways, loving and/or hating players in the NBA is such a strange reaction. I’ve said this before, but we only think we know these guys. You can’t judge a player’s game based off your emotional response to their existence. It’s just not fair, to yourself or to the player.

And yet, that’s how we are hardwired. We seek emotional, moral confirmation by way of our sports fandom. We seek to find the hidden meaning behind it all. We yearn to understand players’ convictions and reasons for playing. It’s just how we are.

People will continue to love David Lee and loath Harrison Barnes and, really, that’s just how it is. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to.

Anyways, enough of that. Here's a simple question: How would you feel about a David Lee return?

You can follow this author on twitter, or on his non-basketball blog, Rake and a Drifter

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