Golden State Warriors Still Disrespected Despite Championship


The Golden State Warriors had a blast this summer. Every Warrior had a chance to keep the Larry O’Brien trophy and do as they pleased with it. They partied with it, hugged it, kissed it, and even brought it back to their hometowns.

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But with the preseason in full effect and teams ramping up and readying themselves for the 2015-16 season, the Warriors are officially the hunted — and not just on the court.

The Warriors’ most bitter rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, stirred the pot this past week with comments made by head coach Doc Rivers. “You need luck in the West,” Rivers told ESPN Grantland’s, Zach Lowe. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs.”

Rivers has made a habit out of dissing his Northern Californian rivals since he took over the Clippers, and to the Warriors’ credit, they have been able to shut out comments like those and focus on the important things. And it’s a great sign that the Warriors are fully focused at the difficult task at hand — repeating as NBA champions.

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The timing of Rivers’ comments are dubious, and he — and his team — would probably be better served by keeping those thoughts to himself. It was after all, Rivers’ Clippers who held a 3-1 series advantage over the Houston Rockets in the Conference Semifinals last season, only to see the series slip away in humiliating fashion.

After losing Game Five, the Clippers blew a 19 point lead late in third quarter at home in Game Six. To make matters worse, the Rockets’ run was fueled almost entirely by the 29 points scored by Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, and with MVP runner up, James Harden, on the bench.

The Clippers have no one to blame but themselves, and certainly have no right to play the “should have, would have, could have” game. The Warriors took the season series against the Clippers 3-1, as was astutely pointed out by Klay Thompson in sharp response to the “lucky” comments.

It could also be easily pointed out that the Clippers were fortunate to get out of their first round series against the Spurs, as they needed a last second, difficult floater from Chris Paul, to win Game 7.

March 31, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) holds onto the ball after falling against Golden State Warriors during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

All championship teams require a bit of luck along the way, and the Warriors were indeed very lucky to have had such great health last season. But if the common characteristic of winning involves luck, why even bring it up?

Disparaging the Warriors may be a motivation tool that Rivers uses with his team, but at the end of the day it does not put an asterisk on the Warriors’ title.

Rivers’ comments are not only disrespectful to the Warriors, but demeaning to the three teams they beat in the West along the way. The New Orleans Pelicans are young and inexperienced but that doesn’t always equate to a team having no success in the playoffs.

Not realizing the size and scope of the moment can allow teams to play freely — and having a transcendent talent like Anthony Davis doesn’t hurt either. The Pelicans may have been swept, but they were competitive in each game and have enough talent to show that they will be a force to be reckoned with as they become more seasoned.

The Memphis Grizzlies, whom the Warriors defeated 4-2, have been battle tested over the years and were a serious roadblock to the Warriors’ title run. People forget that for part of the season, the Grizzlies were probably the best team in the league — especially after the Grizzlies defeated the Warriors in their first meeting of the season back in December. It took a few coaching maneuvers and some clutch performances from Stephen Curry to put the Grizzlies away.

As for the Houston Rockets, all that needs to be said is that the Warriors took care of business in five games –something that the Clippers could not do in the same situation.

Rivers is not the only one taking shots at the Warriors though. James Harden pulled the “No disrespect, but let me disrespect you anyway” card and proclaimed himself as a worthier MVP winner than Curry. Harden’s newest teammate, Ty Lawson, also sipped some Warriors haterade and stated that Curry coasted on defense against the Rockets, allowing him to do whatever he wanted on offense.

Last but not least, forever Warriors nonbeliever Charles Barkley opined that the Warriors would not have won the title had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love been healthy.

Should have. Would have. Could have.

The silver lining in all of the criticism is that the Warriors are not without a lack of bulletin board material. Repeating as champions is no easy task — just ask the San Antonio Spurs about their dynasty — and consuming any morsel of motivation is essential for a repeat title.

Of course, having a lot of “luck,” doesn’t hurt either.

Next: Golden State Warriors Seek to Remain on Top