By Nancy Armour |
Contrary to popular opinion, the Golden State Warriors are not going to be the ruin of the NBA.
Oh, it seems that way to some, who look at the Warriors adding All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to an already stacked roster and gripe that commissioner Adam Silver should just give them next year’s trophy now. And the season after that. And the season after that. And the …
You get the picture.
While the Warriors qualify as a super team if there ever was one, they are hardly the first in sports. They’re not even the first in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers – not the LeBron James version – at one point had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Byron Scott, as well as a supporting cast that could have been starters anywhere else.
Their arch rival, the Boston Celtics, had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Danny Ainge. This two decades after the Celtics had a lineup that included Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and Sam Jones.
And if you’re looking for a more recent comparison, the Miami Heat were supposed to precipitate the downfall of the NBA when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up together.
So this is not exactly new. What gets lost in all the hand-wringing over competitive balance, however, is that the best team doesn’t always win.
Yes, either the Lakers or Celtics won all but one NBA title from 1980 to ’88 – shoutout to the Philadelphia 76ers for breaking up the run! – and often had to battle the other for it. But Miami’s Big Three was only 2-for-4 in the NBA Finals.
The New York Yankees were expected to have a stranglehold on the World Series after adding Alex Rodriguez to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettite, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens – need I go on? Yet those Yankees won just one title, and made only one other World Series.
Remember when that NFL team in Washington added Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Mark Carrier to a group that had won the NFC East the previous season? Not only did Washington not win the Super Bowl, it didn’t even make the playoffs. Got its coach fired, too.
And how about that 2016 Alabama team that steamrolled its way through the regular season? It wasn’t a question of if the Crimson Tide would win its second consecutive College Football Playoff title, but by how much.
One of the beauties of sports is its unpredictability. Teams that should win sometimes don’t. Teams that have no business winning sometimes do. And what seems so certain on paper often looks much different when reality kicks in.
This idea that no one will be able to stop the Warriors is based, in part, on the addition of Cousins, one of the game’s best big men. But Cousins is also recovering from a ruptured Achilles, and there’s no telling what impact it will have on his game. If history is any guide, well, let’s just say it’s not promising.
That leaves the rest of the Warriors, who have won three of the last four NBA titles and were last seen obliterating the Cleveland Cavaliers. But these are also the same Warriors that needed Game 7 to get by the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.
Last I checked, the Rockets didn’t have a fire sale in the last month.
Houston isn’t the only team in the West that could make things difficult on Golden State. Anyone who counts out Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder is a fool. The Jazz and Trail Blazers are feistier than they get credit for.
And now there’s a guy in Los Angeles who will make the Lakers relevant again, to say nothing about having a grudge against Golden State.
Out East, the Celtics should have Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy again. The Sixers are on the rise. Milwaukee has the league’s next transcendent player in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Warriors’ “super team” won’t be the downfall of the NBA. They might not even end up winning the title next year.
Strange things have a way of happening in sports. That, as the saying goes, is why they play the games.
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.