After what felt like an eternity of waiting since winning the West, the Golden State Warriors finally know who their opponent is: the Toronto
Drakes Raptors. This will be a new and exciting challenge for the two-time defending champs, as they’ll be the first team to leave the United States during the NBA Finals in search of a championship.
Waiting for them across the northern border will be a Rogue’s Gallery of adversaries and ex-teammates that have seen their former hopes and dreams crushed under the rise of the Warriors’ dynasty. These basketball fugitives were exiled to the North, where they have earnestly used their pain and experience to build the last resistance to the Golden Empire.
I have provided a dossier for Dub Nation to understand the motivations behind these desperate mercenaries, and remind us of what lies in wait for the champs in “Jurassic Park”.
5.) Marc Gasol
The Warriors dynasty was never supposed to born. They were supposed to lose to the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2015 playoffs. The Grizz held a 2-1 advantage over the Warriors in that second round series, bullying the young Dubs with “Grit-N-Grind”. The largest bully on that team was Gasol, a giant who relished snatching a pass in the post and going to work on the smaller Dubs.
Draymond Green reflected to The Athletic about that dark time period for the Warriors:
Those first couple years we could not beat the Grizzlies. Like, they owned us. That ’14-15 season, it was different.
We got down 2-1 in that series. Felt like the world was collapsing on us. It was, oh, shi*, what do we do now? But then we won that Game 4, switched up our matchups and the way we were defending them. They didn’t stand a chance after that.
This shot from Steph Curry effectively ended the Grizzlies hopes and dreams forever.
I’m sure Gasol is haunted by the memories of watching “Grit-N-Grind” burn to ash at the hands of the Human Torch. The Raptors are most likely his last chance to ever avenge “Z-Bo” and Tony Allen, his fallen comrades.
4.) Serge Ibaka
In 2016, a young Serge Ibaka was one of the hellhounds of the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder team that nearly crushed the 73-win Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. In those first four games he was a terror: too athletic for Draymond Green to bully, too quick for the other Warriors bigs to stay in front of, and too long for the Splash Brothers to shoot over.
And then Steph Curry did this to him in Game 5.
Then Curry sized him up in isolation and ripped his heart out to seal a Game 6 victory.
I don’t even remember if Ibaka played in the Dubs Game 7 win, it doesn’t matter, the Thunder were broken by the Warriors comeback. Durant looked around and realized he was never going to win with the Thunder, and assimilated into the Splash Dynasty. The Thunder were never the same, and Ibaka has faded away from spotlight until now. He has a bone to pick with both the Warriors and Durant.
3.) Jeremy Lin, Chris Boucher, Patrick McCaw
If these three men had LinkedIn profiles, their current job description would read “Warmer of Benches for the Raptors”. If you scrolled down a little further, you would notice another commonality in their careers: they all began their careers with the Warriors.
Before there was “Linsanity”, there was just Jeremy Lin, a Palo Alto native and the first Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA. He signed as an undrafted free agent with Golden State in the 2010-2011 season, and was a favorite of both the fans and owner Joe Lacob. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for him in the crowded Monta Ellis-Steph Curry-Klay Thompson backcourt. When Pastor Mark Jackson took over as head coach, Lin was cut on the first day of training camp in 2011. Lin never got the chance to prove he could play alongside Monta, and I’m sure vengeance burns in his heart.
Chris Boucher was another undrafted prospect the Warriors signed to the fringes of their rotation in the 2017-2018. Although he spent most of his time with the Santa Cruz Warriors, he was a part of the crowded “big man project” carousel that included Kevon Looney, Damian Jones, and Jordan Bell. Boucher was the odd man out and was released, although technically he won a title with the team last year.
And finally, Patrick McCaw, the fallen son of the Golden Empire. NBA guru and former Warriors exec Jerry West engineered McCaw’s draft night trade to Oakland. He was supposed to be the chosen one, groomed under the tutelage of the sage Andre Iguodala to be a wingman of the future. Just take a look at what he did as a rookie during the 2017 playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs.
But then, out of nowhere, everything changed. Our very own Hugo Kitano wrote:
McCaw, once a promising young player, struggled throughout his sophomore year and suffered a terrifying injury near the end of it. McCaw turned down a two-year five-million-dollar partially-guaranteed offer from the Warriors last summer, and refused to report to camp by signing a qualifying offer. He was the only restricted free agent to hold out. And the Warriors are fine without him: his replacement on the team, Alfonzo McKinnie, is thoroughly outplaying him in the same role this year.
He dared to hold out against the dynasty that birthed him? All the wisdom and care the team invested in his life, and he had the audacity to demand more money after playing like trash and then getting injured?
SAY WHAT YOU WANT 3 STRAIGHT NBA FINALS APPEARANCES?! I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP ... MY FAITH GOT ME HERE, NOTHING BUT GOD!!! ZERO WORRIES ZERO DOUBTS— Patrick McCaw (@PMcCaw0) May 26, 2019
The audacity. THE UNMITIGATED GALL.
All three of these guys didn’t get what they wanted from the Warriors.I’m sure they will be vociferously rooting on their Raptor teammates to make sure the Warriors don’t get what they want: the immortality of a three-peat.
2.) Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green
In the Spring of 2017, these two men were leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 20-point lead over the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in Oracle. The Spurs had long believed they were the superior team to the Dubs, and had the banners to prove it. That’s when disaster struck as an already limping Leonard landed on the foot of a big man who had won championship gold with Golden State: Spurs’ teammate David Lee.
Per Carl Steward of the Bay Area New Group: “Enough with Zaza Pachulia ruining the NBA season. Blame David Lee. That’s whose foot Kawhi Leonard stepped on first, and worse yet, D-Lee was totally oblivious before and after.”
Any way you slice it, Leonard’s Spurs tenure effectively came to an end that day, as complications from his rehab kept him out of the lineup despite the Spurs skepticism on the seriousness off his injury. That drama put a damper on Leonard’s reputation, as he basically quit on the Spurs, and forced a trade to Toronto.
Oh yeah, and Green was a part of the deal too. Now, those two men have an opportunity to avenge themselves for the Warriors crushing their dreams in San Antonio. Also, Leonard and Durant both vying for the imaginary best player alive trophy is a juicy subplot.
I hope Leonard’s legs are working fine now, he’s gonna need ‘em.
Toronto Raptors ambassador and Kanye West rival Drizzy is obsessed with the Warriors.
The Warriors love to torture his Raptors, especially on Drake night.
Kevin Durant doesn't give a damn about @Drake night. That's that DC! pic.twitter.com/rVKltN9Vok— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) November 17, 2016
And which rapper goes harder for their team: Drake or E-40?
I CAN’T WAIT FOR GAME 1.
Who wants revenge on the Warriors most?
This poll is closed
The Fallen Warriors
The Fallen Spurs