Last night I was flicking back and forth between playing “Call of Duty: Blackout” and watching the desperate Boston Celtics roundhouse kick the drowsy Golden State Warriors. As the Celtics surged away from the Klay Thompson-less Dubs, I had a flashback to 2012 article written by Celtics megafan Bill Simmons about the angst of being a Warriors fan.
Entitled, “How to annoy a fan base in 60 easy steps”, it detailed how the then bumbling Warriors organization repeatedly failed broke the hearts of beleaguered Dubs fans. My mind reflected on how far Dub Nation has emerged since those dark days. Currently, we are the citizens of the brave Golden Empire, supporters of back-to-back championships, three titles in four years, 73 wins, multiple MVP’s and All-Stars (All-Star game MVP!).
But somehow all the success has made weaponizing joy a more arduous task. Think about it.
The Warriors organization has built a juggernaut of All-Stars. That makes victory seem too casual, too easy, too expected. “They’re supposed to win!”
When the champs lose, they get scrutinized as though they were exposed magicians or a debunked myth, like the clock will strike midnight and their carriage to the Finals will turn back into a pumpkin with Speedy Claxton’s visage carved into it. “I told you they were frontrunners!”
I’ve even heard people say that a first-round exit would be good motivation for the team to try harder during the regular season next year. Do they know we have the #1 seed in the West? Do they know we won the title last year as a #2 seed?
On top of that, the gratitude of watching a historically dominant collection of players gets eroded by the constant free agency speculation. A good third of Warriors “news” this year has been “Kevin Durant COULD leave”, turning every time the man yawns or blinks into splintered arguments about his future plans. Here’s the quiet storyline: he’s BALLING this year.
So, victories are mundane, losses are overly dramatized, and the expression of admiration for the heroes on the team is harshly tempered by the fear of losing them.
Is this what ruling the NBA is supposed to feel like?
We’ve gone from “We Believe” to “We Expect Constant Domination”, and that in itself is an amusing reminder of how far we’ve come. Are there some kinks to be worked out? Sure. Four straight Finals is wearying physically and emotionally, and they’re assimilating DeMarcus Cousins on the fly.
But I’d rather have our problems than anyone elses. Those Boston Celtics that blew us out are frantically chasing the Strength In Numbers chemistry we mastered. The Denver Nuggets aren’t a tested ballclub; they haven’t played a postseason game since their first round demise to the Splash Bros in 2013. The Houston Rockets are still haunted by their Game 7 choke under Golden State’s grip.
Hell, even the Knicks are fighting the doubts about whether or not they will win the #1 pick the lottery this year.
The Warriors are the only team fighting boredom + monstrous expectations. For me personally, my hometown team being feared by the NBA just doesn’t get old, I don’t care how many March games we blow.
I can’t wait for the playoffs to start.