The Golden State Warriors had a terrific run in the NBA for the past five years, playing in each year’s edition of the Finals, winning three of them. Now, after a summer of changes and a lot of departures for the Dubs, they find themselves in a completely different position.
With their dynasty pretty much over, now the rest of the league wants to take revenge on the Dubs. Several rival players and executives revealed their desires to face, beat and humiliate the Warriors this season. Some of them aim at Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, but these players are inactive right now due to injuries.
These people actually looked forward to facing Curry and Green without the same pedigree they used to have, but now things are very different. A host of players, executives, and scouts were looking forward to showing Curry and Green just how much they wanted to beat them.
"It got old with the antics," one Pacific Division player told Rich Bucher of Bleacher Report. "Now that they've come back to reality, you want to beat the hell out of them and see Steph with that towel over his head in the fourth [quarter]. ... But the team now isn't the Warriors. [You're not going to punish] Glenn Robinson III and D'Angelo Russell. This is about Steph and Draymond."
The absence of All-Star guard Klay Thompson (torn ACL), All-Star forward Kevin Durant (now a Brooklyn Net), sixth man Andre Iguodala (now a Memphis Grizzly) and super sub Shaun Livingston (retired) assured that the Warriors' dynasty was over. Now their rivals have started to show how things really are to them.
This season started with a big loss against the Los Angeles Clippers, followed by another blowout by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Things got a little better against the New Orleans Pelicans, but the Phoenix Suns made sure to give them a reality check at the Chase Center. The San Antonio Spurs visited the Bay, as well, getting a 127-110 win that left everybody worried about the Dubs.
Even Spurs forward Rudy Gay was happy about that win and Draymond’s discreet game.
"You think anybody in the league has any empathy for Draymond Green?" Gay claimed. "No, hell no. He's a good dude and everything, but everybody has their time and everybody has their day, and it's time for another team to step up. They took full advantage of their time at the top. And not just them—the fans, too. This is the real NBA, man. You don't have some of the best players in the league. You still have some great players, but those wins aren't going to come as easy no more."
The addition of Kevin Durant was seen as a dirty play by a lot of people who often criticized the man, but those surveyed inside the league see him as the catalyst that turned them from one-time title winners into three-time champions.
"Adding KD made it the cheat code," the Pacific Division player commented. "We respect the Warriors and their previous accomplishments, but when they added KD, no one looked at them the same. Even KD knew it was unfair. I never saw him celebrate the same way. It added to those other guys' legacy more than his."
Portland Trail Blazers’ Rodney Hood also weighed on this matter, sharing the same perspective on Durant's presence and now absence.
"Obviously, they were good before KD, but once they got him, they took it to another level," he said. "But I know for a fact—particularly Draymond, who I have the utmost respect for—when they were on top, they let everybody know they were on top, and you felt their presence. But everything comes to an end at some point. Guys were looking forward to getting at them without that 7-foot monster [Durant], so now everybody feels it's an even playing field. Everybody is excited about that."
Asked about which player had the bigger role or had inspired the most desire for revenge, opinions were mixed.
"Steph," an Eastern Conference vice president said. "Shimmies. The mouthguard. (Curry has it habitually hanging out of his mouth.) The list is endless."
"Dray, because he's not as good," the Pacific Division rival says.
As expected, comparisons with LeBron James’ Miami Heat superteam were part of the conversation and this time the responses were very clear.
"More the Warriors," Hood says. "There wasn't a lot of barking with the Heat. Seemed like they just had fun. It was different."
An Eastern Conference scout disagreed. "Heat were more divas," he says.
However, while some people around the league can’t wait to torture this diminished version of the Warriors, others don’t see the point in beating them under these conditions.
“Kerr always did things right,” said an Eastern Conference pro personnel director. “Besides, they are like a wounded deer on the side of the road right now. No need to torture them; just put them out of their misery each game.”
Right after some of these claims saw the light, Curry himself replied with a short comment with laughing emojis on Instagram.
Golden State currently has a 2-7 record, raking 14th in the Western Conference. This season is going to be extremely hard for them, but people still think they can get some good draft pieces next year to return to be one of the biggest powerhouses in the history of the league.