The Golden State Warriors put the finishing touches on the most dominant playoff run ever and raised the NBA championship trophy Monday night. Are they the best team of all time? Let’s forget that talk. Let’s just enjoy their greatness.
The rest of the NBA may not feel that way because barring injury or some sudden desire from one of Golden State’s core four to relocate, the Warriors could be on top for years to come.
That gets said after every NBA team wins a championship, but in this case it’s true. The Warriors were the NBA champions two years ago, won an NBA-record 73 games last year, had a 3-1 series lead in last year’s Finals before losing to the Cavaliers and then signed Kevin Durant.
They were a great team, had a two-time MVP in Steph Curry and were perennial title contenders before they signed Durant. Now they look unbeatable.
The Warriors almost were this postseason, reeling off 16 wins in 17 games — the best playoff record in NBA history. They closed out their near-perfect playoff run with a 129-120 victory over LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 5 Monday night. The difference in the series was Durant, who was unanimously voted series MVP after averaging 35.2 points in the series.
“We’re just getting started,” Curry said. “This is something we want to continue to do.”
Had Durant stayed in Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers might be celebrating their second straight championship.
James was downright awesome, becoming the first player ever to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals. Yet his team lost in five. That tells you how great the Warriors are. The best ever? Let’s say they’re one of the best.
They have three of the greatest shooters in the NBA today, and maybe of all-time in Durant, Curry and Klay Thompson. Draymond Green is one of the most versatile players and a nasty defender. They’re all 29 and younger.
The Warriors also have a coach in Steve Kerr who has put in a system that the players love, has stressed playing with joy, and an organization that is run in textbook fashion. They certainly have the makings of a dynasty.
They all sacrificed shots and points to make it work, to achieve the ultimate team goal. They’re unselfish and play basketball like no other team in the NBA. The Warriors move the ball, move their bodies and cause fits for defenses. Good luck to the rest of the NBA having to deal with that going forward.
“They’re going to be here for a while,” James said. “They’re going to be around for a while. Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.
“So there’s going to be a lot of teams that’s trying to figure out ways to put personnel together to try and match that if they’re able to actually face them in a playoff series, both Eastern Conference and Western Conference. From my eyes, they’re built to last a few years.”
The Cavaliers are one of those teams.
James can be a free agent next season, and there are already rumblings he could take his talents to the West Coast when his deal is up. So Cavaliers’ management will try to put together a team that can compete with or challenge the Warriors. Just getting to the NBA Finals isn’t enough for James.
He’s been there the last seven years, and has lost four times now. He’s 3-5 overall in the NBA Finals. Rings go a long way when determining the best of all time.
There’s no doubt James is one of the best, and certainly the best of this era. There was no passing of the torch this series. James is the best player, Durant is the second best, and is on the best team.
Trying to pick the best player ever or best team ever is a fun debate, and an opportunity for people to spew stats or show their knowledge of the history of the game.
Is the greatest player ever Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant or James? Talk amongst yourselves at your office, a ball game, a sports bar or barbecue.
Perhaps the best way to settle these debates is by adding this caveat, “the best I’ve seen” but also take into account how the game has changed, the rules have changed and the players have changed. That’s the biggest thing when you try to compare eras.
Players today are bigger, stronger and faster. They’re also more skilled and are better shooters. Bob Cousy was one of the greatest point guards of his generation. Watch the footage of how he dribbled and decide whether he would be that stellar.
When debating the best teams of all-time, you have to consider the Celtics of the 1950s and ’60s that played in the championship series 12 times in 13 years and won it 11 times. The league consisted of eight teams, six made the playoffs, and you needed 10 postseason wins to be champions.
The Knicks’ two championships teams in 1970 and 1973 have a special place in the hearts of many in these parts. The Celtics, Lakers and Sixers of the 1980s were great teams, and their superstars — Bird, Johnson and Julius Erving — helped the popularity of the game.
The Jordan-led Bulls were the dominant team of the 1990s, and the best regular-season team before the Warriors broke that mark last year. The Lakers’ three-peat team also is in the conversation. Who is guarding O’Neal?
Now the question is who is guarding the Warriors? They have shooters everywhere, play the right way based on the rules and trends of the day, and they play. You see it on their faces.
Who is the best ever is something that will never be proven. Just enjoy watching the Warriors. They’re going to be around for a while.