It was everywhere I looked.
“The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.”
Fresh off one of the most painful losses of my basketball life, I avoided the internet as much as I could after the 2016 Finals. It was summer time, so it was (I thought) fairly easy to disengage… And yet, still, the meme crept into my media and not just for a minute either. This meme brought a big roller suitcase with four tiny pivoting wheels and was here to stay. It wasn’t just the internet trolls – as recently as January of this year ESPN was still going out of their way to crack jokes, citing a Jeopardy contestant:
"Since the 2016 NBA Finals, there has been a meme on 'Basketball Twitter' to constantly interject with: 'Don't let this distract you from the fact that the Warriors went 73-9 and blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals,'" Chen told ESPN. "Basketball Twitter is obviously a big part of my life, so I wanted to give them a little shout-out, though now it might have been a little stale.
Woooooo. That’s funny.
“A little stale?” That joke was old and tired, and yet still folks managed to drag it out. “Don’t let this distract you from the fact...” It was everywhere. I admit I’m biased, but the joke got beyond over-saturated.
Just as you can specifically point to the time of death of the meme, we can also appreciate the beginning. It’s birth was nearly a year prior, occurring in game 5 of the 2016 Finals - during what fellow GSoM contributor Dean Campbell hilariously called the nut-punch felt across the NBA. The Warriors underwent a historic collapse, failing to complete the end of the season with a win, which somehow slightly invalidates all the other nights that ended in victory. It was one of those long slow crashes that is so compelling to see.
And “Basketball Twitter,” that fickle judge, was quick to pounce. Credit was not given to Cleveland for their historic comeback, so much as it was to the Warriors for crumbling in spite of their overwhelming favor.
It is a classic, I’ll admit - but one that is finally ready to die.
“Sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war.”
Believe it or not, the Warriors needed this to happen. The loss, and the mocking. It’s actually pretty well documented that if they had won last year, Kevin Durant wouldn’t have signed (probably). But I think it’s probably equally well known that all the jokes were noticed by our players.
But you see, they endured. And now the meme is dead, along with the mocking vibe.
The Warriors’ five game gentlemen’s sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers has set alarm bells ringing throughout the NBA, but all I hear is the death knell of a tired joke. The Warriors have taken back ownership of the NBA championship trophy and killed a meme in the process.
As the rest of the league scrambles around, the Warriors are riding out the vicissitudes of the offseason. But if there’s one thing that we’ll never forget about the meme, it’s this: the Warriors have officially made it through the far side. Everything from here on out is gravy. Two championships in three years, and poised to be the favorite to repeat in the foreseeable future. Can things go wrong? Absolutely, but it’s no longer a question of the team not being able to win the games.
As usual, Andre Iguodala is the calming influence we all need right now. He called into a local radio station on Monday to preach peace:
“Business is business, so you’ve got to do your due diligence,” Iguodala said. “I’ma let my people do their thing and see how it goes, but the Bay has been special to me. …
“You always have your perfect situation and you hope that gets done. So I’ma let my people do their jobs. I just want everybody to be respectful of that and not get too emotional about it, because I’ve been getting hit up (like) crazy and I haven’t said anything so I’m just a little lost at times, like what happened? I just had a newborn so I’ve been at home trying to be a good father.”
Because that’s what it’s come down to now. The Warriors built an unbeatable team, right Bram? Lebron James knows it. The rest of the NBA knows it.
Adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team is downright disheartening to the opposition. Watching them roll through the playoffs can’t feel like a laughing matter anymore. And even though the free agent market hasn’t opened yet, you can feel the NBA starting to freak out.
Now? People are getting desperate. And stupid.
This Cleveland stuff? This Knicks stuff? This is why you cant legislate against the Warriors being good. Teams hurt themselves.— (dun)Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace) June 20, 2017
So yeah, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead, but more importantly, they didn’t let it define them. As other teams initiate insanely risky plans, the Golden State Warriors have a solid core here, and are just about as well positioned as any team has ever been in the NBA to ride it out for the next three or four years. As a fan, I’m pinching myself. This can’t last forever, but for now? The Warriors are the absolute upper echelon of the entire NBA. They absolutely would not be here if they didn’t blow that 3-1 lead that everyone used to want to talk about.
Now? The discussion is how not to end up on the other end of the joke. And that should have all of us Warriors fans laughing.