Jealously and envy are a hell of a thing.
My father would always say that to me as a kid growing up in Old Fort, North Carolina. Whenever I’d tell him about the beefs I had in class or on the basketball court, he’d sum it all up with that phrase. He also told me two more things as it pertains to haters and their actions:
- You can’t run down a lie but you can outlive one and;
- People will get jealous of you just for the way you tie your shoes. It doesn’t take much to make someone jealous.
When it comes to the Golden State Warriors, they’re not even trying to run down and chase the lies that the mainstream media spew and the fans regurgitate. Instead, they became masters of tuning out the noise and thriving in spite of it. The Warriors are playing winning basketball and playing it at an extremely high level. They win because they are powered by selfless superstars that sacrificed money, stats, accolades, and glory for the greater good of the team, and people are mad.
They are big mad.
They are big jealous.
Fans rocking assorted officially licensed gear and those stuffed in designer suits and Men’s Warehouse’s best are so enmeshed in their envy of the Warriors that they don’t know where their disdain for this team ends and their true love of the game begins.
In this second installment of debunking popular Warriors narratives, it’s a hope that these hating fans and media members can finally let go of their resistance to the truth. If not, let’s have more fun shooting down these popular notions about the Dubs just for our own enjoyment.
Narrative: Stephen Curry was not injured in the 2016 NBA Finals because yelling “I’m here. I’m back” against the Blazers miraculously healed his knee.
Reality: In his first game back from a grade one MCL sprain that could have used more time to heal, Curry struggled to find his rhythm and flow against the Portland Trailblazers in game four of the Western Conference Semis. In that game, he came off the bench and missed two thirds of his shot attempts including nine threes. With two minutes left in regulation, Curry found his groove beginning with a pull-up three off of a screen from Draymond Green.
Then the rest was NBA history.
Curry snapped in overtime. Scoring 17 of his 40 points, the most ever in an NBA game. In the heat of the game, Curry yelled “I’m here. I’m back!” It’s easy to look at the end result and jump to conclusions and honestly, Curry made it very easy to do so: Scoring 40 points in his first game back, going HAM in overtime to help the Warriors win.
However, there was nothing easy about Curry’s playoff run. In Marcus Thompson’s Golden, he stated that the health of Curry’s knee improved just enough so he’d be cleared to play and that the outburst in Portland was the adrenaline flowing.
The limitations of Curry’s right knee became more notacible in the Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals when defenses were more intense and physical.
For instance, whenever a big was switched on him during those two series, Curry struggled to shake them. He didn’t have the burst or explosiveness in his crossovers and struggled to move laterally. He also couldn't slice through the double teams and couldn’t drive the lane with the force he had before the injury.
In an excerpt from Golden, Thompson had this to say about the state of his knee after playing on it.
“After each game, he’d sit at his locker, taking his time getting dressed and unpackaging his right knee,” Thompson writes. “ The tape was heavily layered like his fragile knee was being shipped overseas. The gauze created a pentagon around his bare kneecap, exposing the redness and puffiness that didn’t match his left knee.”
So why did Curry continue to play?
Curry continued to play for two reasons. One, the MCL was as ‘healed’ as it was going to be-meaning he couldn’t do anymore structural damage to it. Two, he knew if he were to skip the playoffs, the “soft” label would continue to follow him.
Granted Curry was playing and there are no excuses. But to proclaim that he was fully healthy for the sake of narratives is cheap.
Narrative: The Warriors would have lost the Western Conference Finals if Chris Paul was healthy.
Reality: Now in the interest of facts and objectivity, I’m giving the Houston Rockets some credit. They pushed the Warriors to seven games and they showed incredible resiliency after getting punched in the mouth for 41 points in game 3. Plus, the switch everything defense that baited Kevin Durant into ISOs to halt ball movement was a great strategy that really frustrated the Dubs. And that’s where their credit stops.
As soon as the Warriors adjusted in game three, one can argue that the Warriors blew the chance to take a commanding lead in the series in games 4 and 5. It’s worth noting that Andre Iguodala did not play after game 3, and the series could have easily lasted five games instead of seven.
The Warriors stole home court advantage away from the Rockets with the Hampton 5 lineup. Plus the Rockets won games 4 and 5 by a combined seven points. Iguodala could have and would have made the difference in either one of those games. His playmaking on both sides of the ball would have made the difference.
Rockets fans love to say that Iguodala’s impact for the Warriors was less than Paul’s impact for Houston. What fans from opposing teams usually don't understand about the dynamics of the Warriors is that Iguodala’s value isn’t in his points on the board. It is in his defense, playmaking, and ability to stabilize the second unit.
In the Rockets’ series, Iguodala’s defense held James Harden, Chris Paul, and Eric Gordon to a combined 6-19 from the field. Paul was able to break through in game 5 because of Iguodala’s absence.
The Rockets know how valuable Iguodala is to what the Warriors do. Why else did Rockets GM Daryl Morey attempt to poach the versatile wing in free agency?
Narrative: The Warriors had officiating assistance in the Western Conference Finals.
Reality: The Houston Rockets gave fans something to believe in last season. This team really pushed the Warriors and made people believe that they had a legitimate shot to dethrone the champs. They wanted it to happen and wished for it to happen, but as expected it didn’t. Wallowing in their disappointment, the narrative of the refs and league commissioner Adam Silver intervening on the behalf of the Warriors was born.
Since the stakes are a bit higher in the playoffs, some of the calls that stars get away with during the regular season isn’t usually there in the postseason. Now am I saying that the refs got all the calls right? No. I’m saying that they didn’t show any favoritism for the Warriors during that series.
Think about it, for a league and its fans whining about how unfair the Warriors are, you would think the referees would call the games in favor of the Rockets to give them every advantage possible. But the fact of the matter is that the referees didn’t turn Oracle into a bakery in game 6. The Rockets did with 20 turnovers to the Warriors’ 13. Nor did the refs turn the Toyota Center into a masonry in game 7.
The refs didn’t make Curry erupt in the third quarter of Game 7 either. He did that on his own.
Narrative: Stephen Curry doesn’t show up in the Playoffs/Finals
Reality: Okay, it’s cool to admit that Curry terrorizes your team and that you despise him for it. It’s even better that as a fan of an opposing team you can say that Curry gets on your nerves, but you respect him and what he brings to the game of basketball. But what you’re not going to do is sit up here and tell lies on this man because he makes you, your team, and your favorite player uncomfortable.
In his playoff debut five years ago, Curry was pretty solid in his series against the Denver Nuggets. In that series, he lead a supporting cast consisting of Jarrett Jack, David Lee, Richard Jefferson, Kent Bazemore, etc over the favored Nuggets. Remember, this is the year that Curry and Klay Thompson were all star snubs and Draymond Green was Lee’s backup. Curry averaged 24.3 points/4.3 rebounds/9 assists in that series.
Now, he is currently ninth all time in playoffs points per game (26.1), second all time in three point field goals (378), and the NBA Finals leader in 3 point field goals (32 in 2016).
In the 2017 Finals, Curry nearly averaged a triple double. This past Finals, he was on the verge of winning the Finals MVP until he struggled in game 3.
Other than the 2016 Finals, what about these numbers indicates not showing up?
2013: 23.4 points/ 3 rebounds/ 8 assists per.
2014: 23 points/ 3 rebounds/ 8 assists per.
2015: 28 points/ 5 rebounds/5 assist per.
2016: 25 points/ 5 rebounds/ 5 assist per.
2017: 28 points/ 6 rebounds/ 7 assist per.
2018: 25.5/ 6 rebounds/ 5 assists per.
Honestly, not having a Finals MVP as ridiculous as it sounds is the only thing haters can hold over Curry’s head. If we are keeping it real, he should have won in 2015 and split the award with Durant this year.
Again say whatever you want about Curry but the notion that he doesn’t “show up’’ when it matters is just pure hate at this point.
That’s two columns full of narratives addressed. Is there any I missed? Let me know on twitter and in the comments below.