So the price of Andre-ing is ten grand. Got it. The price for piling one more brick in the wall is relatively low.
Iguodala, the Andre in question, was fined $10,000 by the NBA Monday for his racially piquant postgame comments in Minneapolis Friday night after being asked about being rested for the next night’s game in San Antonio, and while Golden State coach Steve Kerr has worked hard to laugh off Iguodala’s oratorical indiscretions, it adds another piece to what Kerr called in October the Warriors’ new role as villains.
“Villains,” of course, being shorthand in the modern vernacular for “good team with a gift for social media irritation.”
There are, of course, gradations of villainy, of course. The Warriors are not, for example, the Bad Boy Pistons of a quarter-century ago.
They do, however, talk a healthy amount of smack, even if they don’t mean to, and between that and the way they attract schadenfreude, they really are the team upon whom harsh if superficial characterizations find a home.
And to that we can only say, “Well, what exactly did you expect?”
They villained up by winning a title when they were the “luckiest” team in the league for not having injuries when everyone else did. They villained up when Joe Lacob told The New York Times that all this “luck” was the product of a master plan that could only be hatched in Silicon Valley. They villained up when Draymond Green decided to go technical foul for technical foul with DeMarcus Cousins and occasionally misplace a flailed foot. They villained up when they convinced Kevin Durant to put the “free” in “free agent,” and they villained up when Green complained that the officials treat him differently than every other player, and now they have done so yet again with Iguodala’s comments.
And you are entitled to judge them as you wish – either as misapplied history, unpleasant vernacular, cultural disconnect or good joke/bad audience. This is really about perception, which the Warriors claim unconvincingly to care nothing about.
The Warriors have wrapped themselves in a number of brightly colored cloaks – as the organizational vanguard of the world sporting order, as the only logical home for bright, articulate, charitable and charming athletes, as the smartest guys in every room, as the new basketball, as the best entertainment value in the sport (as judged by the fact that they have sold out all but three road games both last year and this), and as The Team Everyone Wants To Be.
So yes, they care what people think about them. Everybody does. It’s human nature, except for hermits, cloistered nuns and spies.
Kerr’s smile-laced deflections are therefore not to be taken at full face value. There is a price that comes with villainy, and though the bravest souls say it doesn’t matter, it eventually does matter because Kerr doesn’t always control the messages his players and their circles of friends absorb. Some corrosive rebuttals get through, and a few of them can occasionally stick.
And while winning is the best defense against slings and arrows, teams don’t always win. For instance, last year’s Warriors.
Is Iguodala’s incident a seminal moment in the villainy narrative? Not really. The league had him pay 40 percent of the cost of verbally abusing an official, so there’s a hint right there.
But when you pile up individual bricks high enough, they fall, and then you have Hell’s own Jenga. Villainy is a charming throwaway line until it isn’t. If that day has not yet come, that’s not the same as it never coming.