Besides my own favorite team, the Boston Celtics, the franchise I have the most respect for is the Golden State Warriors. For too long I've heard people say that the Warriors have "broken the NBA." They get too much blame for today's NBA rather than the credit.
The Warriors are coming off their second-straight title and their third in four years. And looking at 2019, they're well on their way to winning a fourth in five years. Who's going to stop them? LeBron James left for the Lakers, and it does not appear that roster is ready to compete. The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, nearly lost Clint Capela, and signed an old Chris Paul to a $160 million contract. The Eastern Conference is as weak as it has been in a decade with the only two teams with a real chance are the Celtics and the Sixers.
But let's look at how this started. Between 2009 and 2012, Golden State drafted its three stars: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. In 2013, they sign Andre Iguodala in free agency. In 2014, they fire Mark Jackson and hire Steve Kerr. In Kerr's first season, the Warriors beat LeBron's Cavaliers 4-2 in the Finals. They then set the NBA record with 73 wins and lose in the Finals after having a 3-1 lead, putting them at a crossroads. They set the record for wins but still lose. So what do they do? GM Bob Myers and the Warriors go out and sign Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA.
From this point on, the Warriors have taken heat for breaking the NBA when in reality their front office has just done the best management of any team maybe in league history. In 2009, Steph Curry was the seventh pick, so six other teams had an an opportunity to draft him, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had two draft picks in the top six and picked two point guards not named Steph Curry. In 2011, Klay Thompson was the 11th pick, and in 2012 Draymond Green was picked 35th in the second round. Other teams had the opportunity to draft them as well. In 2014, the Warriors were prepared to send star two-guard Thompson to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. But thankfully for the Bay Area, Jerry West advised against the trade, so the Warriors passed. And in the summer of 2016, all 30 teams had a chance to sign Durant, but the Warriors got him because they're simply smarter and better at recruiting, drafting and decision-making than the rest of the league is.
But what the rest of the league's nephews need to remember is that "super teams" are neither invincible nor do they last forever. LeBron's super team lost to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, and in 2014 they lost to the San Antonio Spurs by a record margin. The Lakers with Shaq and Kobe had five great years before it broke up. In 2018, the Warriors were down 3-2 to the No.1 seed Rockets, and if Chris Paul weren't injured we could be in a very different place right now in the offseason. The only dynasty that has lasted an extended period of time is that of the San Antonio Spurs, who won five titles in three different decades. Why did they sustain greatness? Excellent drafting, coaching and personnel will contribute to that.
Dynasties happen all the time. In the 60s it was the Celtics. In the 80s, the Lakers and Celtics dominated. The 90s were about Jordan's Bulls. Shaq's Lakers and Duncan's Spurs occupied the 2000s. And now the latter half of the 2010s will be dominated by the team in Oakland.The Warriors have achieved their greatness the right way. They didn't cheat. There's still a salary cap and hefty fines for those who go over it, unlike in the MLB. What has worked for them is a lot of hard work by a lot of smart people in the Bay Area.