The Warriors Asterisk

Well, with Warriors training camp set to begin, I can’t ruminate and procrastinate any longer. It is, as promised, time to wrap up this blog. This post is the first of a three part series. It was originally one post until it grew too long, and as such shares a theme with the posts to follow. So let’s begin, or begin the end, with The Warriors Asterisk: 

The 2015 World Champion Golden State Warriors seem a little disrespected, don’t they? Both the Cavs and the Spurs are favored over them for the 2016 title. And quite a few opposing players and national media members have stated that the Warriors simply got lucky to win the title last season. There has even been mumbling of asterisks.

I don’t believe in asterisks.

Yes, the Warriors’ championship run had a miraculous “Parting of the Red Sea” feel to it. All their Western Conference nemeses of old, avoided as if by divine intervention. The remaining superstars in their path, felled one by one as if by biblical plague. I’ll even admit to a certain disappointment in the quality of the Warriors’ playoff opponents, and lack of epic drama in even the championship series. But an asterisk? No, never.

Every championship in history has been aided by luck in some form. Luck of the brackets. Luck of good health. Luck of injuries to key opponents. The San Antonio Spurs are 5-time NBA champions, regarded as one of the great dynasties in NBA history. But would they have won the title in 2003 if Dirk Nowitzki hadn’t gotten injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals? Would they have won the title in 2007 if Don Nelson and his scrappy band of NBA rejects and D-Leaguers hadn’t first knocked off the top-seeded Mavs for them? Would they have won their last title in 2014 if Serge Ibaka had been healthy in the Western Conference finals? In my opinion, the answer might easily be no to all three.

And then there’s their 1999 title. Wasn’t that the one that the arrogant inventor of the idea of the asterisk himself — Phil Jackson — branded with an asterisk for coming in a lockout shortened season?

So I would say to anyone who wants to put an asterisk on the Warriors championship, go ahead and put one on four of the Spurs’ championships as well. Right?

Wrong. It’s total nonsense. All championships are earned, and the Warriors’ championship was as well-earned as any. And as for the “luck” the Warriors did have, well it bears pointing out that to a large extent the Warriors made their own luck. The brackets worked for them, but they earned their seeding with overwhelming regular season dominance. They had far superior health to their opponents, but that health was guaranteed in no small part by the depth of the roster, their lack of reliance on superstar play, and Steve Kerr’s shortening of his best player’s minutes.

Will it signify something about the Warriors’ championship if they don’t manage to repeat this season? Prove the doubters right about something? That’s the kind of thing that gets argued endlessly, and is a big part of what makes sports (and blogging) fun. I’ll just point out, again, that the current great Spurs dynasty never once repeated. And I don’t see anyone out there trying to revoke their championships.

The Warriors championship is in the books, folks.

Deal with it.

(Part One of Writ in Water. Read Part Two, Part Three.)

3 Responses to The Warriors Asterisk

  1. Hapax Legomenon

    Your paragraph about the Spurs’ titles is the most compelling, concise-but-detailed argument I’ve seen against the annoying complaints that the Warriors got lucky.

    Except for one thing: The Spurs have won 5 championships. You missed their 2005 title.

    • Thanks Hapax. Or should I say, Word.

      I suppose I blocked that title out, as I simply hated the way the refs took Chauncey Billups out of game 7 of the finals, and smelled a rat. Which is not to say I’m not a Spurs fan; I’m a huge Spurs and Gregg Popovich fan.

      I’ve gone ahead and fixed the text for readability. This comment will stand as admission of my error.

  2. While I agree an asterisk is not warranted
    as the Warriors won the NBA championsip
    and may have even done so if Cleveland was
    at full strength, they were not, in the pit
    of our stomach we all have some doubt and
    even General Manger Bob Myers gave off
    vibes they even he had doubts that the
    Warriors were the NBA’s best team.