Warriors

Ruined the game? No, the Warriors are the best thing about the NBA

Ruined the game? No, the Warriors are the best thing about the NBA

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Coverage of the Warriors 2018 Championship Parade begins Tuesday at 9:30am on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

OAKLAND -- Perhaps it’s because they’ve come so far, so fast, and are flying higher than they ever could have dreamed.

Or maybe it’s the natural by-product of a news cycle that must be fed 2,880 times per minutes, resulting in a constant stream of repackaging and regurgitation in the misguided belief that if a flawed notion is repeated enough times it must be worthy of debate.

No. Please, stop. Enough with the narrative folks have been slinging at the Warriors for roughly 101 weeks, suggesting they are “bad" for the NBA or “ruining" the NBA or otherwise a stain on the spirit of “honest” competition.

The Warriors are rapidly becoming the model for any sports franchise. Three reasons:

1) Their first, second and third objectives are to pursue excellence.

The Warriors do that by making their organization as attractive as reasonably possible. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought into a franchise players loved to leave and have turned it into a place they line up in hopes of getting in.

In a desperate lunge for credibility, the Warriors in 2004 overpaid veteran guard Derek Fisher ($37 million, six years) largely because he had earned three championship rings with the Lakers.

Nine years later, 31 months into the Lacob-Guber ownership, veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who knows the location of his every nickel, was signing on for millions less than he could have had elsewhere.

They wanted Kevin Durant, so they sent general manager Bob Myers, coach Steve Kerr and their four most accomplished players to The Hamptons to recruit the free agent. The pipe dream became real.

2) They don’t let money dictate significant decisions.

When Lacob and Guber and their partners paid $450 million -- then a record fee for NBA franchise -- to buy the team from Chris Cohan in 2010, the popular opinion was that they spent more than they needed to. Lacob and Guber shrugged: “Give us a few years and let’s see what those people are saying.”

According to Forbes’ annual report on team valuations, the Warriors in 2009-10 were worth $315 million, ranking 18th in value among all NBA teams.

The Forbes report released last February has them ranking third, at $3.1 billion.

The Warriors last week spent $400,000 on high quality champagne, knowing most of it would be sprayed all over the visiting team locker room at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. They’re spending $2 million on their third championship parade Tuesday in Oakland.

Asked Monday about upcoming contract negotiations with Kevin Durant, the first three words from Myers were “Whatever he wants.” That’s exactly the same position the front office took last year with Stephen Curry.

3) They listen. They give voice to players and most anyone else on the payroll.

That message came through almost immediately when Lacob lured Jerry West to the Bay Area in 2011. The Hall of Famer is quick and bold with opinions, and they can be lacerating. The Warriors didn’t care because they wanted access to his brain.

They listened when he said they must draft Klay Thompson, and listened again when West said they’d be foolish to deal Thompson in a deal for Kevin Love.

The players want music at practice? Done. Want family and friends on the road? Cool. Want access to Silicon Valley titans? No problem. Don’t want to visit the Trump White House? Fine. They want to coach? What? Oh, yeah, Kerr gave select veterans the opportunity against the Suns in February.

Upon joining the Warriors in July 2016, Durant said he felt as he walked through the door that the Warriors were “a family.” He sprinkled in the word “family” on no fewer than a half dozen occasions last week.

“The way things are done here, it’s not normal. It’s special,” says David West, a 15-year veteran who has played for four different NBA franchises.

The worst thing an NBA franchise can do to itself is to accept mediocrity, pinch pennies and neglect the talent. The Warriors spent too many years mired in that trifecta of failure.

Now that they have pulled themselves out, they should be commended rather than considered some sort of evil Goliath.

In a league where word-of-mouth is gospel, they’re a desirable destination. They’re achieving the lofty goals they set for themselves.

One of the best things to happen to the NBA was the rise of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s. They won six championships in eight seasons.

One of the best things to happen to the NBA today is these Warriors, bringing in fans and daring competitors to come and get them.

Warriors vs. Mavericks watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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AP

Warriors vs. Mavericks watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

OAKLAND – On Saturday afternoon, for one final time, Dirk Nowitzki will return to the scene of the crime.

Back in April 2007, Nowitzki was assaulted in public, right there on the floor of Oracle Arena. He and his Dallas Mavericks teammates were roughed up and kicked completely out of the playoffs by a marauding band of Warriors with more heart and fight than size and might.

Nearly 12 years later, Nowitzki will be making his final appearance at Oracle when the Mavericks, already eliminated from the playoffs, come upon the Warriors, who lead the Western Conference and stand 21.5 games ahead of Dallas in the standings.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 o’clock with Warriors Outsiders, followed by Warriors Pregame at 4:30, with tipoff scheduled for 5:30.

[RELATED: How to watch Mavericks-Warriors online and on MyTeams app]

Whereas the 2006-07 Warriors achieved one of the greatest upsets in NBA playoffs history, ousting top-seed Dallas with a 111-86 rout in Game 6 at Oracle, the current Warriors are heavily favored to not only beat the Mavericks but also make a fifth consecutive trip to The Finals.

The Warriors (49-22) have won four of their last five games and are showing signs of peaking for a postseason that begins in exactly three weeks, which half explains why Stephen Curry has been given a “rest night.”

The other half of the explanation is that Mavericks (28-44) are bound for the lottery, which isn’t the most fitting farewell for Nowitzki, who turns 41 in June and is expected to retire. Rookie sensation Luka Doncic is poised to inherit the torch in Dallas.

In any case, with the Warriors bound for Chase Center in October, it’s Dirk’s last dance at Oracle.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
G Quinn Cook

Mavericks

F Justin Jackson
F Maxi Kleber
C Dwight Powell
G Jalen Brunson
G Luka Doncic

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C Andrew Bogut (rest), G Stephen Curry (rest), C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) and G Shaun Livingston (rest) are listed as out.

Mavericks: G J.J. Barea (R Achilles’ tendon surgery), Tim Hardaway Jr. (L tibia stress reaction) and F Kristaps Porzingis (L knee surgery rehab) are listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: With Curry out, Cook is the most likely starter at PG. Kerr likes the idea of having at least three shooters on the floor and Cook qualifies. Starting him also would maintain the integrity of the rotation. It’s conceivable that rookie Jacob Evans III, summoned from Santa Cruz, could get a few minutes . . . Coach Steve Kerr’s decision to rest two PGs (Livingston being the other) is risky, as it leaves Andre Iguodala as the secondary playmaker. If Cook gets into foul trouble, Iguodala’s minutes could rise . . . With Bogut out, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell likely will share minutes behind Cousins at C. PF Jonas Jerebko could see time at both PF and C . . . Durant is two 3-pointers away from surpassing Glen Rice (1,559) and moving into 25th place on the all-time list of triples . . . The Warriors have won 12 in a row over the Mavericks at Oracle.

Mavericks: Nowitzki is averaging 13.7 minutes per game and has exceeded 20 only once since March 2 . . . Doncic has won all four Rookie of the Month awards this season, making him the front-runner to be named Rookie of the Year . . . Now three weeks past his 20th birthday, he is showing signs of fatigue. He’s shot 37.8 percent, 23.1 percent from deep, over the past 10 games. His season percentages are 42.6 and 33.3 . . . Brunson, a rookie from Villanova, has four games with at least 20 points since the Feb. 14-20 All-Star break. He’s averaging 15.7 ppg and 30.3 mpg during since then . . . Powell also has benefitted from the post-break youth movement. His mpg have nearly doubled (18.5 to 32.2) as have his ppg (8.7 to 15.7) . . . The Warriors benefit from the absence of Barea, who has a tendency to play particularly well against them.

Officials: Eric Lewis (chief), Mark Ayotte, Matt Boland. 

LeBron James, Lakers' preseason predictions were incredibly wrong

LeBron James, Lakers' preseason predictions were incredibly wrong

The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention after losing to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. For the first time since the 2004-05 season, LeBron will not be in the playoffs.

When James signed with the Lakers during the offseason, most people found themselves on one of two ends of the Hot Take Meter.

You were either on the side of “LeBron is the best in the world and won’t have any issues in the West," or you were the side of “LeBron only had success because he was in the East, and can’t repeat it in the West.”

There wasn’t much of a middle ground, nor is there ever in the era of morning debate shows and Twitter rants.

For analysts Stephen A. Smith, Chris Broussard, Nick Wright and others on the end of “LeBron is the best, he won’t have a problem,” well … they were wrong. 

By a lot.

Of course, any time someone has a hot take, there’s only one of two ways it can end up. You’re either going to be spot on, or you're going to be dead wrong.

The funny part is just how wrong they all were.

“Wake me when a LeBron James team doesn’t win 50 games,” said Wright.

Someone please wake up Nick, because the Lakers can’t sniff 50 wins. They currently sit at 31 wins with just nine games left.

Not only did Smith and Broussard predict the Lakers would win at least 50 games as well, but they also said LeBron would win MVP.

That’s not happening either. James hasn’t even been in that conversation for most of the year, ever since the Lakers' season started spiraling after he injured his groin Christmas Day against the Warriors.

“The Lakers are going to the Western Conference Finals, for sure,” predicted comedian Michael Rapaport, a frequent guest on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed.

Any dream of LeBron vs. the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals is going to have to wait at least until next season, presumably after LeBron rebuilds the entire Lakers roster. 

The Warriors, despite a somewhat tumultuous season, have held onto their perch atop the Western Conference. While their rival Lakers have completely imploded, the Dubs sit at the No. 1 seed in the West and are heavily favored to three-peat as NBA Champions. 

[RELATED: Draymond makes bold prediction about Dubs in Chase Center]

While the Warriors' run to another title has been predictable, the Lakers' collapse has, admittedly, been stunning.

But that’s the business most of these guys are in. They get paid to give their hot takes. They’re going to miss on some predictions and hit on others. These were all predictions at the beginning of the season and obviously changed as the Lakers rough season progressed.

We could have shown all the people who predicted the Lakers fate correctly, but what fun would that be?