Recently, Jeff Van Gundy went on Sirius XM NBA Radio to speak with The Starting Lineup, and voiced an opinion that seems to be a prevailing thought amongst NBA fans. Van Gundy does not think there’s a team in the league who can seriously challenge the Warriors. Not the Cavaliers, not the new look Celtics, not the Thunder with Paul George and Russell Westbrook, not the San Antonio Spurs.
Some bold claims, even just from this brief clip:
“The Warriors are going to win forever if everything stays the same.”
“This season is over. We are gonna play it out, and the Warriors are going to win. And then the next year is going to be the same thing.”
“Who is beating them four out of seven times? Just wake me up when something changes with their roster. Cuz, you know, it’s over.”
As a life-long suffering Warriors fan, I feel stupid and giddy imagining the Dubs going on a five year or more run of world domination. I mean, we are already three years in. Two championships in three seasons has the makings of a dynasty, and even after all the moves made throughout this NBA off-season, there still doesn’t seem to be a legit challenger among the other 29 franchises. Are the Cavaliers any better than they were last season, when they got beat 4-1 in the Finals? Are the Celtics — with new star Kyrie Irving — poised to leapfrog the Cavs and challenge the Warriors? Could the Spurs have one last push in them?
I agree with Van Gundy. Barring injury, I don’t see it happening.
Does that make this NBA season boring? Does that negate the aura of intrigue and excitement that permeates our lives from October to late June? I think not, but again, I’m biased as shit.
Van Gundy brings up another interesting point in that when the 90’s Bulls were on their run, they still came up against stiff competition. Many of their series went seven games. They had to consistently overcome great, great teams. Sure, the Warriors were on the dirty end of the stick when the Cavs came back from 3-1. But that result seems more and more like an aberration in the midst of a run the likes of which we’ve never before seen.
Even if the Cavaliers somehow got Paul George, could they compete? If the Lakers end up with LeBron James, Paul George, Lonzo Ball, Dwyane Wade (or, gasp, Klay Thompson), and someone like Nerlens Noel, would that team challenge a Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry-led Warriors’ squad? Maaaaaybe the balance of power gets skewed if Klay leaves. But, if instead the Lakers have incumbent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as their starting two guard, I don’t see it.
The NBA is the fairest of leagues (and I don’t mean, like a level playing field. I mean “fair” as in elves and mysticism and whatnot). Every night, we are treated to the rarest combination of intellect, balletic athleticism, and brute strength. We can see all the players’ eyes. We feel like we know them. There’s an intimacy that is sorely lacking in most other sporting leagues, where the players are either told to act emotionally robotic (baseball), are hidden behind visors and gladiator-like helmets and their individuality squashed (football), or are entrenched in one-on-one battles for supremacy that do not tap into our inner desire for transcendent team work (tennis, etc).
But if parity is lost forever — if the season’s end is a foregone conclusion — do we still get chills thinking about the night-in, night-out reality of the league? I know I do, but again, I’m biased as shit, both being a Warriors fan and being a die-hard NBA head who would stick by this beautiful league come hell and high water.
So, yeah, whatever Van Gundy. You know you’re gonna watch. We all are. It’s too compelling not to.