Durant to the Warriors



Earlier this afternoon Kevin Durant announced via his ghost-written apology and deceleration  on his plan to play with the Golden State Warriors for the next two seasons.  After a brief period of Independence Day hallucination and panic, I have two initial reactions  about the decision:

1) This team is going to be very good at basketball

It’s obvious, but it still needs to be stated for how ridiculous this is.  The Warriors are taking a 73-9 regular season team and adding a Top 3 player in the league to the rotation.  For some reason Golden State was blessed with having the greatest shooter of all time, who was paired in the back court with a Top 10 shooter of all-time.  Now to add onto that they have a 6’11” slim reaper who has range just has vast as the splash brothers who can shot over every one on the court.  Somehow the Warriors pulled off having the best 3 shooters currently in the league.

It’s easy to see how good the Warriors are going to be.  We don’t need any 538 article stating how good the Warriors can be with adding Durant, we know it.  In fact the only usefully 538 article we need right now is for Durant to help him figure out the best place in the Bay Area to buy a burrito.  We don’t need to know the X’s and O’s.  It’s simple.  On offense the Warriors are better than you. We are now in the reality were Curry will drive to the basketball, dish it out to Thompson, who will in return give it Durant for the 3.  Hell, if Adam Silver made screens illegal for only Golden State next season I’d still bet on the Warriors to lead the league in points per possession.

Next season the Warriors will have a line-up that consist of Curry-Thompson-Durant-Iguodala-Green.  That’s already the greatest lineup an NBA team has ever had.  It’s going to be better than any 5-man the United States throws out in Rio this summer.  Even coming up with a starting line-up consisting of players from the 29 other teams, I had trouble coming up with one that would compete.  Would a Westbrrok-Paul George-Leonard-LeBron-Anthony Davis team be favored against the Warriors? Maybe, but it’d be close.

2) What’s the point if the Warriors win 80-games each and Win 2 straight championships

It’s is pretty remarkable how we got here.  For the past two-years the Warriors were the golden child of the NBA.  A team that valued every player on their roster.  Coached by an affable 5-time champion. In a city with a great fan-base who had been oppressed by incompetence and mediocrity for too long. With Steph Curry leading the revolution it seemed like the Worlds team was the Warriors.

But things have quickly changed since April.  Starting with a vain venture capitalist owner who declared to the world he is smarter than everyone,  “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things. We’re going to be a handful for the rest of the N.B.A. to deal with for a long time .”  It became easy to root against a smarmy billionaire and any organization he held stake in.  Then came Draymond Green’s inability to not hit people in the groin.  A collapse and a disappointing Finals performance. And now this.  An undeniable stacked team, where it would now be a shock if the don’t win two consecutive Finals.  They are the undisputed villains, the new heel for the NBA.    Is Kevin Durant ready for the kind of national scrutiny?

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The new CBA is how we got here.  Last year the salary cap was $70 million, but thanks to a new $24 billion television deal next season the salary FLOOR is set at $84 million.  With projections seeing the cap going up past $110 million within the next five years.  That’s why this off season we have seen seemingly ridiculous contracts for Timofey Mozgov (4 years  $64 million), Jon Leuer (4 Years $41 Million) and a player like Mike Conley who has never even made an all-star team sign the highest contract in league history (5 years $153 million).  The new CBA has made the super-team more possible than it has ever been in the past.  And with CBA negotiations happening again next off-season, you wonder if owners will try to find a way to nix this.

But for now this is the NBA we are living in.  In the NBA players have more control than any other sport, which is as it should be. But despite it being Durant’s decision and  that he should not care at all what me or any one else thinks this decision makes of his character, this actually happening still just feels….odd.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t remind me at all of LeBron’s decision.  For starters there’s not enough gingham.  This would be like if LeBron joined the Celtics in 2010.  The NBA is now a 12-month league, with even some of my favorite NBA writers asking if the NBA offesason is more exciting than the regular season.  It’s more of a soap-opera than it has ever been in the past.  For now, that $24 billion television deal is looking pretty smart.  There’s no way even the casual fan won’t be tuning in in late October to see how much this team will function.  But if they run through this league like the 1996 Monstars for the next two years we will be watching a predictable league without much drama.  Leaving me and many others to wonder what’s the point.


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2016 NBA Finals: Game 7 Preview




And just in time for this Sunday, your king of silly and typo-filled NBA blog post has returned.  Limping in like Willis Reed for hopefully one good joke or point.  It has been three years since I posted*; the last time there was a Finals Game 7.   And while it is easy to see how wildly the game has shifted, there was been a large change around the language of how the NBA is covered and talked about.

*Who was that dummy who wrote the last post promising Draft analysis before returning to regular posting for the 2013-2014 season?

Those 2013 Finals I last wrote about are my favorite finals I ever watched. Not just because of Game 6, which was recently ranked the greatest Finals Game (i.e. Best Game) of all-time, but that series also had Parker’s Game 1 winner, Lebron and Wade finding their jump shots in Game 7, Duncan missing that heartbreaking bunny in that same game and a Pop-LeBron mind match-up where you didn’t know who was going to win game to game. Just ans incredible series. 2016 has that for that unpredictability for the first time Game 7, but this years Finals has felt just as exciting (if not more so) despite the fact that no game has ended with both teams starters on the floor.  I caught myself saying to a friend recently that these are the greatest Finals from an narrative stand-point…what?  Let’s take that back a dew steps and see what that actually means.

From a “narrative stand-point” what have the main talking points surround the NBA since the Finals started 2 and 1/2 weeks ago been?  I can say off the the top of my head that undoubtedly the Top 5 would consist of: Draymond hitting LeBron James in the penis, Ayesha Curry’s Twitter Account, Steph Curry’s sneakers,  NBA conspiracy talk, and Curry throwing a  piece of rubber at the son of a millionaire.  Nonsense.  Well…Maybe?  What I see is the shift in how the NBA is viewed.

The NBA has grown incrementally over the past two years.  These Finals have seen the highest ratings since LeBron has entered the league and the NBA saw its highest 540882552-stephen-curry-of-the-golden-state-warriors-throws-his-crop-promo-xlarge2rated regular season game ever when a team from Oakland and a team from Oklahoma City, the 27th &45th most populated cities in the country, faced off in mid – February.  It’s kind of ironic that Steph Curry plays for team whose moniker “Golden State” doesn’t really mean anything considering there are 4 teams based in California because his  lore has become ungeographical.  It’s the same reason that two of the NBA’s ten most popular players play in a city whose main attraction according to the “Culture” section of their Wikipedia pages is a 55 foot tall piece of glass.  Players have become businesses unto themselves.  We are obsessed with all of their comings and goings, how they interact with each other and most importantly how the live.  The obsession over Ayesha Curry’s tweets: what made made her say those things?  How does Steph react to those tweets? or Draymond tap to LeBron’s groin: What did Green say to LeBron?  Should LeBron be offended?  and everything else has overshadowed 48 minutes of games that happen in between this noise.

But this is really the way the culture has shifted.  Look at how vastly different Bill Simmon’s new venture The Ringer is run as opposed to Grantland.  Now I’ve enjoyed a Bill Simmons enterprise filled with quality writers back, but there’s not a single article I would go back and read.  More harshly, there’s probably one three-four articles I can recall reading.  The Ringer is current as opposed to Grantland’s fixation on narrative of the past.  We are in a state of the Now.  We want to know who people are, what they are doing and why they are doing it.  We have become opposed with the NBA player as a brand, not as a player and certainly not on a human level.  Think of it; the biggest hit Steph has taken since taken over the throne of “perceptively” best and most beloved player  in the NBA wasn’t the fact that he has been grossly outperformed by LeBron James for two straight Finals.  No, it came before a Game 4 win when his “Chef II” sneakers were released and came across lazy and Dad-like.  It was a branding loss.  Talk after Game 6 wasn’t that LeBron played the most perfect game of basketball I have ever watched, it was that Steph Curry reputation might have shifted after throwing a tantrum*.

*The flip-side of have the “Baby-Face Assign” name is that when get heated….you still kinda look like a baby.  Not saying that Stpeh is a baby.. just saying that when he gets made flails his arms and throws his mouth guard, it looks like a kid throwing a Lego against the wall

From a “narrative standpoint” I’ve really enjoyed these finals.  But that enjoyment is spurn out of it’s silliness.  The face of the leagues wife throwing out NBA conspiracies is probably a bad look, but come on the absurdist in you loves it!  But at the end of the day this silliness is just white noise.  Our desire to know how these players are is an ill fated dream.  The reason we all started to watch basketball is because we like basketball, our dialogue is strangely not correlating to basketball, but simply brands and noise.  Let’s remember there is a Game 7 tomorrow and between all this noise a game will be played.

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It has been one week since the NBA season came to a close.  And I think comedian and NBA fan Joe Mande sums up all NBA die-hards thoughts quite well.  We miss it!

Sure there will be a few offseason story lines; trades, coaching changes and another year of the Dwight-Howard-saga to entertain us until late October, but it is just not the same as watching live games.

This was my first year blogging about the NBA season and while at times I wanted to stop*, NBA1billionit ending up begin a rewarding experience.  I received over 5,000 unique visitors to this site since I started it in early January.  I don’t know if that’s a lot or if it is such a low number for a blog that I should be embarrassed for bringing it up.  But either way it was more than I imagined when I first started this just to entertain myself and email links to my brother.

*Wondering who the hell I was writing to

So, thank you.  For everyone that visited either to read an article, watch a video or view a picture, thank you.  5,000 views may not be as impressive as 1 billion views on NBA’s YouTube page, but I’ll take it.

I will chime in from time to time when there is large offseason news that is not coaching related*, but this blog will not be consistent until the season begins.  The Draft lottery is tonight, but I admittedly know nothing about the NCAA basketball, so if I write any post it will probably be either about 18 year-olds fashion choices or who they chose to kiss before walking on stage

*There’s no way I can judge Brooklyn or Denver’s decision because I have no idea what Brian Shaw or Jason Kidd will  make as NBA coaches.  

Until then,

Matt Abrahamson

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