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Why All the Warriors Hating Feels So Familiar to Bay Area Sports Fans

Where have we heard this before?

 

Now that the Warriors have rampaged their way to a second title in three years, vanquishing the formidable Cleveland Cavaliers in the process, Dub hatred, hitherto a low national murmur, is swelling like the piped-in music at Quicken Loans Arena. 

This antipathy has various strains. Kevin Durant is portrayed as the basketball equivalent of an evil Blackwater mercenary. Draymond Green is a whining, groin-kicking villain, and Steph is a self-infatuated showboater. Even the fans come in for abuse: a recent Guardian screed, bravely riding the paper’s anti-techie hobby horse into an unreported bog, asked “Are the Warriors’ brogrammer army the most hated fans in sports?”  

To anyone who actually knows anything about the Warriors, these accusations don’t hold water. But that’s not the point. The real problem, the thing that really sticks in critics’ craws, is that the Warriors are just too good. They’ve dominated the NBA for three straight years, and barring injuries, will probably dominate the next three or four years, too. For non-Warriors fans, this is understandably frustrating. It’s no fun to start off the season knowing that the highest thing your team can aspire to is being obliterated in the semis or the finals by Golden State.

So we Warriors fans feel the rest of the league’s pain. But we’re not going to cry for you, Ginobili, for two reasons. First, we’ve paid our losing dues. After the Rick Barry–led Dubs won the title in 1975, we had to endure 40 years in a basketball wilderness, a dreary era of Joe Barry Carroll impassively observing yet another blowout loss and Latrell Sprewell choking his coach. We’ve damn well earned our rotation on top of the Ferris wheel. And second, because greatness in any form is, well, great. Signal human achievements, things that move the world forward, should be celebrated—whether it’s Charles Alton Ellis designing the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s, Miles Davis changing jazz in the late 1950s, or Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors of right now. 

The Bay Area has had two teams that changed the way their sport is played. The first was the San Francisco 49ers dynasty created by Bill Walsh. Just like the Warriors today, the 49ers were attacked for various specious reasons (they were a “finesse” team, etc.), but the real reason was resentment of a team so dominant it won five Super Bowls (and could easily have won two more) in a 13-year span—a sustained record of excellence as impressive as any in the history of the NFL. 

The second team is the Golden State Warriors dynasty created by Steve Kerr. We could write a book about the creativity, the joyousness, the relentlessness, the character, the skill of this team. But suffice it to say that sometimes clichés are true. We are, in fact, watching history being made right now. I saw the Celtics of Bill Russell and John Havlicek play, and the Showtime Lakers, and Jordan’s Bulls. The team of Curry and KD, Draymond and Klay, has already earned their place in the company of those legends—and before they’re done may surpass them all. But their legacy is a matter for the future. We’re lucky enough to still be in the present. And we should live that dream.

 

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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