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.