Tag Archives: Golden State Warriors

NBA Needs to Drastically Crack Down on “Resting”

I guess the Warriors schedule is too hard for a professional athlete. Photo Credit: NBA.COM

When the 2016-2017 NBA schedule was released and the schedule makers blessed us with a March 11th game where the San Antonio Spurs would host the Golden State Warriors in a late season push for the number one seed, it was expected to be the most interesting and viewed regular season meeting this side of each of the Kevin Durant versus Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder meetings. Especially after the 29-point manhandling the Spurs put on the defending Western Conference Champions on opening night with their new Big Four.

A potential preview of the 2017 Western Conference Finals was ruined when Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided to “rest” the healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, with Kevin Durant already out with a Grade 2 MCL injury in his left knee, because Golden State was on the second night of back-to-back games and having played ten games in the last seventeen days (February 23rd to March 11th). Seven of those were on the road, and the last four of that streak in five days.

Add to that that Kawhi Leonard (concussion protocol) and LaMarcus Aldridge (minor heart arrhythmia) also missed the game killed any excitement the league was building by having these two juggernauts face off in primetime in the first season of their highly promoted venture with ABC/ESPN to broadcast the most compelling games of the week on Saturday nights.

Instead we got an unwatchable game that was a 20-point blowout at halftime, with a final score of 107-85 San Antonio, while the Warriors trotted out a bunch of dudes you wouldn’t watch play pick-up at the playground if you just happened to be walking by.

This was clearly Kerr’s attempt to throw up a middle finger at the Association and its schedule makers. He could have easily looked ahead and staggered resting his top guys earlier in the streak when they played inferior teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, with an eye on a big finish to end the 10-game span at full strength against the Spurs. Instead he basically said “F*** You” to anyone who cared about the game.

It’s time for Commissioner Silver to do something drastic end this trend. This isn’t good for the sport, the fans and business.

Why should fans pay hundreds and thousands of their hard earned dollars on tickets, travel, concessions and merchandise at any NBA game with the thought in the back of their mind they may or may not get to see their favorite player play or favorite team at full strength?

And why should fans across the country, that can’t attend the game in person, continue to pay a premium for League Pass and carve out time in their schedule to watch D-League quality?

So here’s what Commissioner Silver should do, NEEDS to do.

First, reduce the schedule to 65 games, similar to the format from 2011-2012 when the league was in a lockout that delayed the season. I’m cool if the owners want to take some money back from the players because of this, serves them right. Just back loading key divisional and conference games that will affect playoff seeding near the end of the season like the NFL did a couple of seasons ago isn’t working.

Limit preseason games if you have to as well, and spread the 65-games out over late October to mid April, and eliminate back to backs as well as three games in four night deals, giving no coach or player an excuse to “rest.”

Finally, heavily fine players that aren’t active for any reason other then a disclosed and diagnosed injury if they continue to “rest”. Instead of levying a hefty fine on teams like the one given to the Spurs when Coach Gregg Popovich did something similar as Kerr against the Miami Heat in 2013, dock from their salary cap which will hurt their ability to build a competitive roster. That will fix it.

Resting healthy players is also an insult to the history of the game and past players that so many of today’s players say inspired them. As ESPN/ABC analyst Michael Wilbon, said on ABC during Halftime of the Spurs-Warriors game, “twenty years ago forty-four NBA players played all 82 games. Last season only 18 players played all 82.”

For more perspective, arguably the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan played every game scheduled in a season nine of his fifteen seasons, including his final season at age 39-40. He also played 81 and 80 games two other seasons. By comparison, LeBron James, the best player in today’s era, has NEVER played all 82 games and has only reached 80 games two times in his fourteen-year career.

Today’s players are supposed to have better nutrition and better training, so what’s the problem?

How healthy and great would Kobe Bryant have played at the end of his 20-year career if he took so many nights off?

This is another reason why Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and other legends of the game say today’s players are soft. And I’m starting to think they’re right.

Jalen Rose, Wilbon’s co-analyst on ABC’s Halftime show hosted by Sage Steele, also a 13-year NBA vet, pointed out that the Association is followed on Twitter more than any other sports league, the NBA also has thirteen current players followed on the social media site that are in the Top 100, while the NFL has none despite being the most popular sport in America. The NBA also has two current players in the Top 5 on the Forbes Endorsement list while the NFL has none.

NBA players are more popular and make more money based off their notoriety than any other sport. So figuratively and financially speaking, they’re spitting in the face of those who they’ve made their fame and fortune off of, the Consumer.

Mister Silver, you’re the only one that can fix it. You’re the most proactive leader in sports, so I trust that you will. Until then, hopefully when these two meet again on March 29th we’ll get something closer to what we expect to see come playoff time. But I doubt it. Got rest up for that playoff run.

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MJ Played Against and Beat Better Competition

The debate between Jordan & James continues to heat up. The focus now is on the competition they faced.

Almost since the moment the clock hit triple zeros in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan conversations have only intensified. And it’s not going to change any time soon. So if you’re annoyed and tired of the topic, no matter whose side you’re on, get used to it. Unless you plan on avoiding the litany of debate shows on ESPN and Fox Sports.

The latest chapter is a hypothetical about how and when LeBron will take over as the Greatest Of All Time from MJ.

Case in point, last week Fox Sports One NBA Analyst Chris Broussard said on Fox Sports’ “Undisputed with Skip and Shannon”, that it will happen if James wins the next two NBA Championships, for a Cavs three-peat, giving him five total championship rings. The prevalent thought is that he would’ve beaten a better more talented team in the Golden State Warriors with four perennial all-stars. Assuming the Dubs make it to the Finals four consecutive season as well. Broussard, as well as Shannon Sharpe, said MJ “didn’t beat anyone” to win his titles, and that the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons and “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers were old and worn out by the time those Chicago Bulls teams reached their peak. I think that’s as ridiculous of a hot take as I’ve ever heard.

If I were on the show, I would’ve fired back… “were the Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed & Ben Wallace-led Pistons who had played in five consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, two NBA Finals, winning one (2004), before losing to the ’07 Cleveland Cavs old?”

The previous variable used to compare the two use to be that LBJ accomplished more at a younger age than MJ, which I always thought was dumb because one came straight out of high school, while the other played three years of college ball. The only fair comparison would be years of service which I did back in 2013. So now in order to prop James’ legacy up, people want to diminish the competition Jordan faced.

Not only did those 90’s Bulls beat very good teams in the Finals, they also beat top competition in the Eastern Conference playoffs to get to the championship round. Something LeBron hasn’t had to do in his six-year Eastern Conference title runs, aside from playing against the big four in Boston of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

Here’s a look at the team’s, Jordan’s Bulls had to conquer on their title runs…

After sweeping the 39-43 Patrick Ewing-led New York Knicks in three games, The 1991 Bulls beat the Charles Barkley-led Philadelphia 76ers four games to one in the conference semifinals. Then they swept the 50-32 Isiah Thomas-led, two-time defending NBA World Champion Detroit Pistons to advance to the NBA Finals. Waiting for them was the 58-24 Magic Johnson-led and five-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers who just happened to beat the team with the best record in the Association that season, the 63-19 Clyde Drexler-led Portland Trailblazers in six games. Of course, we all remembered what happened in the Finals. Bulls over Lakers in five, and if it weren’t for a last second jumper by Jordan that rimmed out in game one, they would’ve swept the team of the ’80’s.

The 1992 Bulls team challenged the 70-win mark finishing the season at 67-15. After sweeping the young Miami Heat 3-0 in the first round, The Bulls went to a grueling seven games with Patrick Ewing’s 51-31 Knicks in the conference semifinals. Chicago lost home court advantage in game one, before coming back to win the series. In the conference finals they faced a 57-25 Cleveland Cavaliers team with All-Stars Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. The Bulls beat the Cavs in six.

In the Finals they faced the 57-25 Clyde Drexler-led Portland Trailblazers, who brought back their key nucleus from the same team that had the NBA’s best regular season record the year before and had lost in the 1990 NBA Finals. Some of those names; Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Danny Ainge who won two titles with Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics in the 1980’s. It took those Bulls six games and a 15-point 4th-quarter comeback to win the series.

In 1993 the Bulls went into the playoffs as the second seed. They swept their first two rounds 3-0 over the 43-39 Dominique Wilkins-led Atlanta Hawks, and 4-0 over the 54-28 Cleveland Cavaliers who had three All-Stars in Price, Daugherty and Larry Nance. In the Conference Finals they met up again with the Knicks who had the second best record in the NBA at 60-22 and the number one seed in the East. Chicago dropped the first two games in Madison Square Garden, you may remember the stories that Jordan had went over to gamble in New Jersey in between those first two games. However, the Bulls charged back from the 0-2 deficit to beat their nemesis in six games.

In the Finals they faced the 62-20 Phoenix Suns, with the League Most Valuable Player in Charles Barkley. Most say this is the best team the Bulls faced in their six Championship seasons. The Suns had three All-Stars in Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle. They also had that Danny Ainge guy. Chicago never trailed in the series and was up 3-1 after four-games, it took them a John Paxson three-pointer with just over 3 seconds in the 4th-quarter to win the series 4-2 for their first three-peat.

Flash forward three years and the 1995-96 season and the Bulls set the single season record at 72-10. In the playoffs they swept the 42-20 Miami Heat of Alonzo Mourning and coached by their old foe from New York, Pat Riley. In the second round they faced another familiar foe in the Knicks who were 47-35 in the regular season. Chicago beat New York 4-1 in a physical series without Sixth Man of the Year Toni Kukoc for two games. In the Conference Finals they faced the 60-22 defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic, led by All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, and won the series in four games.

In the Finals they defeated the 64-18 Seattle Supersonics with All-Stars Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf, coached by George Karl who is the fifth winningest coach in NBA history. The Bulls went up 3-0, and dropped games four and five at Key Arena, before winning the series in game six back in the United Center.

In the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals they faced the 64-18 and 62-20 Utah Jazz led by future Hall of Famers Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan. The Bulls won each series 4-2 to capture titles five and six for their second three-peat. But look at the teams they faced in the two playoffs before the finals.

In the ’97 playoffs they swept a young 44-38 Washington Bullets team with Chris Webber and Juwan Howard 3-0 in the first round, next the 56-26 Atlanta Hawks with Dikembe Mutombo, Christian Laettner and Steve Smith 4-1, before knocking off the 61-21 Miami Heat with Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and Dan Majerle, 4-1.

In the ’98 playoffs they swept the 43-39 New Jersey Nets 3-0 in the first round, defeated the 51-31 Charlotte Hornets led by All-Star Game MVP Glen Rice 4-1, before winning an epic seven game series against Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, Jalen Rose and the 58-24 Indiana Pacers coached by Larry Bird.

So as you can see, not only did Jordan’s teams beat historically great competition in the Finals, they also beat the other marquee teams in the league at that time.

It’s baffling to me that many are trying to diminish Jordan’s legend in an attempt to bolster James’ legacy. If you haven’t figured it out, I am on the Jordan side of these debates, but I can admit his “Airness'” legacy has grown “Paul Bunyon-like” in the nearly two decades since his last championship with the Bulls. But to say his competitors were far inferior than the ones LBJ faces is absurd. There are more teams in the Association now then when Jordan was in his prime, which means the talent is more spread out across the league. However you try to slice it, MJ played against better comp.

NBA 2016-2017 Predictions 

The NBA Regular season tips off in less than a month, and with the storylines created by this summer’s big free agent move by Kevin Durant, plus the unprecedented Monopoly money-ish like signings that had players moving from team to team more than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends, this season is sure to be one that rivals your favorite reality show.

The combination of KD, Steph and Klay could be the most efficient offense in NBA history. Photo Credit: NBA.com

The Association stole the summer headlines at a time when fans have put their tank jerseys away for the ones with sleeves, as they usually prepared for the boys of the gridiron.

I’ve been thinking about this coming season since game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals ended. So here are my predictions for the 2016-2017 season that I’ll be watching and waiting to happen all season.

  • All eight teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs will have winning records, my even bolder prediction is the eighth seed will be at least 5 games over .500 (46-36).
  • The teams that will take the biggest leaps this season will be the Utah Jazz, who missed the playoffs by one game last season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will both make the Western Conference playoffs. The Jazz will challenge for a top 4 seed and home court advantage thanks to all the veteran leadership they’ve added in former San Antonio Spurs Champion Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson. The T-Wolves will hold off another squad for the 7th or 8th seed. My two teams out from last season’s playoffs will be the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.
  • The Southeast Division which had three of its five teams qualify for the 2016 playoffs–#3 seed Miami (48-34), #4 seed Atlanta (48-34), #6 seed Charlotte (48-34)–will only have one team make the playoffs in 2017. The Washington Wizards or Orlando Magic will make it as a 7th or 8th seed.

The Thunder is all Russell’s, and you know he relishes that. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • Russell Westbrook will average a triple double (27 ppg, 12 apg, 10 rpg) for the Oklahoma City  Thunder. He will lead the Thunder to a top 4 seed in the Western conference playoffs and win the League MVP, which would be his first.

The Pelicans Rookie Buddy Hield’s should benefit from a healthy Anthony Davis. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • In (somewhat of) an upset, Buddy Heild of the New Orleans Pelicans will win Rookie of the Year. Especially now that the early favorite Ben Simmons will miss significant time with the Philadelphia 76ers due to a broken foot. Brandon Ingram will had to contend for shots with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who will all be a little too hungry to fill the Kobe scoring load. I really like Minnesota T-Wolves point guard Kris Dunn—and I think he’ll be the starter by seasons end—but everything will revolve around the big three of Wiggins, Anthony-Towns and Lavine. Heild, however, will get the opportunity and have the numbers thanks to all the attention drawn by Anthony Davis, helping New Orleans get back into the playoff mix after a disappointing setback of a year in 2015-2016.

LeBron is still chasing MJ, it will help if he adds a DPOY to his resume. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • The Cavs will challenge 70 wins. Just like last season, LeBron will get annoyed that the Golden State Warriors are getting all the attention with their new addition Kevin Durant. This will be enough to keep the Cavs motivated to dominate the East and not take nights off for “rest.” I predict the Cavs will go 69-13.
  • LeBron James will finally win the Defensive Player of the Year award he probably should’ve won twice already. Why? Because what else is there left for him to accomplish individually? He always leads his team’s in blocks, steals, and is usually top two in defensive rebounding, while often guarding the opponents top wing or power forward. No further analysis needed, he is due.
  • LeBron will earn a seventh consecutive NBA Finals birth after defeating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The San Antonio Spurs will beat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, then face Cleveland in the NBA Finals. San Antonio has added key veteran pieces with championship experience in Pau Gasol and David Lee. The Warriors made the big splash signing, but the Spurs signings added to the mix of young talents in Kwahi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will make them the better DEEPER team. Something the Warriors lost in their quest to sign KD.
  • LeBron and the Cavs will win their second consecutive title. LBJ has a pattern, he loses two Finals (’07, ’11), then wins two (’12, ’13). He lost in 2014 with the Miami Heat, and 2015 with the Cavaliers. Now that he’s won in 2016, next is a win in 2017. It’s his trend. Cavs in another epic seven game series, and Kyrie Irving takes home the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

Durant Made A Choice We’ll All Have to Make, Someday

It was tough, but Durant made a decision we’ll all have to make at some point in our careers. Photo Credit: NBA.com

 
Kevin Durant agreed to a two-year 54 million dollar contract to sign with the defending Western Conference Champion and record setting 73-9 Golden State Warriors. The same team that beat his Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games, after his OKC team had a 3-1 lead. And he’s getting killed for it. 

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called it a weak move on his part to sign with them. Several other current NBA players threw some subtle, or not so subtle shade, at the former League MVP via social media.

   
  
The reality is, Durant made a decision every working American will have to make at some point in their life. That is, where and what is the best chance for me to accomplish everything I hope to accomplish in my personal and professional life. A professional life that has a shorter life span than majority of professions on Earth, and one where he’s at a stage he is in the midst of his prime. 

“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.” ~ Kevin Durant, The Players’ Tribune, July 4th, 2016. 

See the problem is, everyone is looking at this as just a basketball decision. I get that. Especially considering that is what Durant said it would be about when he was asked about his free agency immediately following the Thunder’s postseason loss. But as you can read by the portion of his piece he wrote for The Players’ Tribune to announce his decision, it was clearly not just about basketball. When you’ve lived in a place for more than 9 years, and those years are during your early to late 20’s, it’s not out of the realm of comprehension that a person would want to experience something different.  

How many of you have had a great job in a city you were comfortable in, and your co-workers value your ideas and love being around you and you them? I’m sure that’s a lot of you. But what if another job offers you more money, with new challenges, in a city you’re intrigued by what differences it has to offer you than where you are? And what if at your current job there is uncertainty that some of your favorite co-workers or boss may be on the way out and the camaraderie that you all have will be lost? I’m sure many of you are going to take a serious look at moving on to the new opportunity. I did, and I know of many others who have. 

I say all that to frame this. What if Durant knows Russell Westbrook is leaving? Or maybe he couldn’t get an answer from Westbrook he was comfortable with to make a decision for his future. If Durant had resigned in Oklahoma City and Westbrook leaves in 2017, then what? The Thunder aren’t the same team they were before his decision, and it’s not even close. The Thunder lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2013 when Westbrook was injured in the first round. They didn’t make it to the playoffs in 2015 when Durant missed majority of the season with a foot injury. This team needs both of them to be championship competitors, and if one of them isn’t there we know they aren’t. That means the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs and others would pass them by. Maybe Durant knows that, and instead of waiting to see that happen while entering his prime years, he decided it’s time to move on before he languishes on a team that is not a championship contender. Oklahoma City has already moved on from Scott Brooks, the coach he was with for seven of his nine seasons that helped him become the player he is. 

So I ask you, wouldn’t you leave a company or job you love that you see is on the verge of collapsing before getting left behind in the rubble alone? KD did just that.

The Close Calls That Could’ve, Should’ve Cost The Warriors 73 Wins

 

A Photo Credit: Mario Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

 
What is 73-9 without a few close calls? You can’t make history without a little luck. While most people will say the Golden State Warriors historic record of 73-9 doesn’t mean anything without the ring, I disagree. They have plenty to be proud of by accomplishing this feat, especially when you look back at the season and the close calls that could’ve cost them any chance at breaking the 95-96 Chicago Bulls record of 72-10. Here are five games that were in the balance and could have thwarted the Warriors record setting season. 

12/11/15: the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics (13-9) in a hard fought double overtime game in “Beantown” without two starters in Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. 

The Celtics held a 5-point lead, 96-101, with 2:06 remaining in the 4th quarter. Steph Curry would go on to score 5 points on two free throws and a 3-pointer, along with a signature mid-range jumper from Shaun Livingston to put the Warriors up 103-101. The Celtics tied it up on an Isaiah Thomas layup sending the game into its first overtime. Both teams scored 7 points in the first OT to send it to a 2nd overtime where Golden State pulled away. Curry finished with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists despite shooting 9-27 and having 8 turnovers. Draymond Green finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 block shots, 5 steals becoming only the third player in NBA history to surpass 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks and 5 steals in a game. The Victory extended their record setting win streak to 24 games. 

1/2/16: The Denver Nuggets (12-21) were down 77-90 to begin the 4th quarter and trailed by as many as 28 points (45-63; 2nd quarter) in the game with Steph Curry sitting out to nurse a left shin injury that had been bothering him for quite a while. Denver went on a 20-10 run to cut the lead to 3 (100-97) with 3:21 remaining in regulation. Will Barton made a short jumper with one second on the clock in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 102 and send it to overtime. In the extra session the Nuggets took their first lead of the night 104-102 on a pair of Danilo Gallinari free throws with 4:11 left in overtime. The Warriors closed the game out on a 9-4 run to move to 31-2 on the season. Draymond Green led all scorers with 29 points and added 17 rebounds and 14 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

1/30/16: The Warriors next close call was a huge surprise as they were pushed by the 7-40 Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. The 42-4 Warriors had a 19-point lead (91-72) to start the 4th quarter, but the young Sixers stormed all the way back outscoring Golden State 33 to 17 to tie the score at 105. Harrison Barnes made a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Philadelphia bench with .2 seconds remaining to seal the 108-105 victory and the 43rd on the season for GSW. Bay Area fans are wishing right now they had THAT clutch version of Barnes in any of the last three games of the 2016 NBA Finals, maybe they’d have another Larry O’Brien Trophy to go with this record. 

2/27/16: Who can forget the Instant Classic at the Oklahoma City Thunder? This was the second meeting of the season between the two Western Conference powers. The 42-17 Thunder had the game all but wrapped up ready to hand the Warriors their sixth loss of the season and end their six game win streak. OKC had a 4-point lead with 14 seconds left in the game. But after a Klay Thompson jumper that put the score at 101-103, the Thunder inbounded the ball to Kevin Durant with 11 seconds remaining, all he had to do was hold it and get fouled then make two free throws, instead he threw the ball away and on the subsequent Warriors possession fouled Andre Iguodala while he was shooting with no time remaining. Iguodala went on to make both free throws to send the game into overtime. 

In overtime, Durant fouled out with 4:13 remaining and the Thunder had a 5-point lead 108-103. Golden State never led in OT until Steph Curry hit the shot heard round the world, a 37 footer with less than a second remaining. Warriors win game number 53, 121-118. 

3/30/16: The Utah Jazz were 37-37 coming into the matchup with the Warriors, hoping to hold on to the eight spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. After a close 1st half that saw Golden State take a 42-40 lead into the locker room, the Young Jazz took control of the game in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarter leading by as many as 8 points before the defending World Champions made their move to tie the game at 85 with 2:17 remaining in regulation on a Draymond Green layup. Utah continued to stay in front by no more than 3, when Klay Thompson made a 3-pointer with a little over 15 seconds left in the 4th to tie the game at 89. The Champs took back control in overtime and won their 68th out of 75 games 103-96. 

4/9/16: The Warriors went into Memphis to face a wounded Grizzlies team that wasn’t playing for much since their playoff position was already solidified. Memphis was already without staring point guard Mike Conley Junior, and All-Star center Marc Gasol. Golden State was down by as many as 10 points in the 4th quarter and didn’t gain the lead until 1:39 remaining on a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer that put them up 98-97. Yet still, they had to fight off Memphis as there were two more lead changes in the final 1:13 before the Warriors sealed their 71st win 100-99. 

As you can see if one or two of these games goes the other way, the Warriors would either be tied with the 95-96 Bulls at 72-10 or not even having a shared piece of history. It proves how relevant the regular season is as the San Antonio Spurs were nipping at their heels for the number one overall seed with their own 67-15 record. How many close calls will or won’t there be now that they’ve added Kevin Durant? Expectations with this super team are going to be higher than 73-9.

Draymond Green, You Remind Me of…

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Draymond isn’t the headliner in Oakland, but he is the spark that ignites the Warriors Championship engine. Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Draymond Green isn’t supposed to be here. That’s if you ask the experts. Where is here? NBA Champion, All-Star, and a 1st-Team All-Defensive Player. The product of Saginaw, Michigan was a highly productive four-year player for the Spartans at MSU; winning a B1G Tournament Championship, 2012 National Player of the Year award, 2012 B1G Player of the Year award, 2012 B1G All-Defensive team selection, three times an All-Conference selection, and making two Final Four appearances.

Even as accomplished as he was, Green still had to wait until pick 35 of the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft to hear his name called. Those experts said he was too small to be a pro power forward and not quick enough to be a perimeter player.

However the Golden State power forward, is the back-to-back runner up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a first-time All-Star in 2015-16, has become the heart and soul of the defending champion Warriors who just completed the greatest regular season win total in Association History.

The four-year pro is finally getting his due. As his game continues to flourish, his style of play is starting to remind me of a few guys I loved watching back in the day. Many of who also dealt with the same naysayers and bogus critiques when they entered the pro ranks.

This is the third in my installment of my you remind me series. The first two were on Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook.

Draymond’s ability to defend against guys 3-5 inches taller and 45 pounds heavier all while being able to switch off on the more athletic perimeter players in the NBA reminds me of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. Rodman is mostly known for his rebounding prowess, but he guarded Shaq during his days in Chicago, and Michael Jordan back when he ran with the “Bad Boy” Pistons in their two championship seasons.

Draymond has also held down the center position for the Warriors in the playoffs guarding Dwight Howard and at times other dominant bigs during the season in the likes of Boogie Cousins, Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan. In last year’s Finals, he took his turn guarding this era’s current best player in LeBron James. His versatility on the perimeter has made it easy for Golden State to switch every thing on D because he can also clamp down on the James Harden’s, Russell Westbrook’s and Damian Lillard’s of the world.

Green’s offensive skills remind me of James Worthy’s ability to play inside and outside, while having the playmaking skills to set up teammates. Even though he was the top pick in the 1982 draft, “Big Game James” is often overlooked because he played with two of the top ten players of all-time in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. But, he was named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history because of his championship contributions. Green is playing a similar role behind the consensus best backcourt in the Association in two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

Robert Horry. While obviously Green doesn’t have the size and length of the 7-time NBA Champion, Draymond brings the same defensive versatility and ability to make tough timely baskets that often are only trusted to the Superstars of the team. Horry was the perfect compliment to Legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. As Shaq always says, “you need the others to play well to be champs”, well Big Shot Bob was the perfect “other” and Draymond is proving to be the same for the Warriors emerging dynasty.

Anthony Mason. The late “Mase” was the enforcer on those Patrick Ewing led New York Knicks teams that gave MJ’s Bulls a run for their money in the 90’s and became Eastern Conference Champions in 1994. Coach Pat Riley often used the 13-year power forward as a point forward during their time in the Big Apple and with the Miami Heat. It wasn’t odd to see him bring the ball up court and initiate the offense by dumping it down to the big fella on the block, or stop and pop an elbow jumper. While Mason didn’t have the all around range of Draymond on offense, both are similar as irritants on defense for opponents. The 2001 All-Star was a stellar defensive player throughout his career even making the All-Defensive team in 1997.

Cliff Robinson. “Uncle Cliffy” was a key contributor to those early 90’s Clyde Drexler-Terry Porter led Portland Trailblazers teams that challenged MJ’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers and Isiah’s Pistons for NBA titles. Robinson, the 1993 Sixth Man of the Year did all the dirty work for those Portland teams during his eight-season there. He also was one of the original stretch power forwards who had range from deep shooting 35% with the Blazers. He also had a knack for mixing it up with trash talk and the occasional borderline physical play to gain an edge over his opponents. Sound familiar?

Just Hold On Cleveland, Your Championship is Coming

Cleveland fans will have to wait at least one more year. Photo Courtesy: @espn

I know what you’re thinking Cleveland fans, “We’re cursed.” “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, “The Shot”, “The Move”, “The Error”, “The Sweep”, “The Decision” and now this. What are you going to call the 2015 Playoffs and Finals, “The Injuries”?

Without the injuries this team would’ve won it all, and easily. That’s not hard to see having watched this series. Even without both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving this team was up 2-1. They should have been up 3-0 if LeBron hits the walk off jumper to avoid overtime in game one, and that would’ve prevented Irving from getting hurt in overtime.

This team will be back. I hear you, “we thought the same in 2007 when we got swept by the Spurs and it took us eight years to get back.” True, but this isn’t the same LeBron James or Cavs team. Heck, it even looks like a different organization from the way they acquired talent to surround James. LBJ is in his prime and will be there for at least another three or four years. The self-proclaimed “Best Player in the World” proved it averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assist per game in the Finals.

Mark my words, we will see THIS LeBron from jump next season. Mix this style of play with the taste of bitter disappointment from being this close, and that’s a recipe for disaster for opponents.

Most importantly, he will have two All-Star’s rejoining him next season—that is if Kevin Love is true to his word about resigning with Cleveland.

Personally I didn’t think the Cavs needed Kevin Love to get to the Finals and this playoff run proved me right. The emergence of Tristan Thompson doesn’t happen if Love is playing and he brings an inside toughness that Love doesn’t provide. I was one of those who thought keeping Andrew Wiggins to be the third option after Kyrie Irving would set Cleveland up to win multiple titles and build a dynasty well into LBJ’s late thirties, but I’ll get off that soapbox. For now.

Anyway, this unit will also have the added experience of being in playoff battles that ended two wins from a Championship. You couldn’t say that before this past April.

Unless Commissioner Silver is going to reassign the Cavs to the Western Conference for some reason they’ll still be the run away best team from top to bottom in the Eastern Conference.

The drought is almost over. Keep being “Believeland”, this team just showed you why you won’t have to wait another fifty-one years for a pro sports title. You may only have to wait fifty-two weeks.