The Golden State Warriors are back. Whether this group wins title No. 4 this year or not, the impact of the franchise’s resurrection is already upsetting some around the NBA. Apparently, some teams aren’t happy with the way Golden State chooses to spend money within salary cap/luxury tax rules.
Golden State isn’t doing anything that other teams are legally prohibited from doing. They’ve been able to re-sign stars over the long-term and stay competitive in the league. Aside from the previous two years where the team was riddled with injuries, the Warriors have been perennial contenders since 2014-15.
There will always be a gripe as long as this core group in Golden State continues to compete for NBA titles. The Warriors came out of nowhere, making it to back-to-back Finals appearances, winning it all in 2015. Some people had an issue with the amount of three-point shots Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were making.
Some say Curry changed the game for the worse once players on every level began taking 35-footers in games mimicking Steph. The game has become more of a three-point shootout in many instances, especially in the NBA. But ultimately, Curry isn’t telling anyone to play like him. When players/teams see something that works and creates such an advantage, they’re bound to copy it. Following the Warriors’ 2015 championship, multiple teams around the league did just that.
Before the Warriors, it was thought that teams who score primarily from the outside (jump-shooting) couldn’t win a championship. Golden State debunked that theory and came within seconds and one Kyrie Irving three-pointer from winning two titles in a row. Following the 2016 Finals loss to Cleveland, Golden State signed Kevin Durant, and all hell broke loose.
People have had an issue with this team seemingly at every turn. If you weren’t a Warriors fan or employee in the summer of 2016, you probably had disparaging things to say about the marriage between Durant and the Warriors. While that’s understandable on some level, there’s been constant pushback against this Golden State dynasty.
First, they ruined the game by shooting too many threes. Then the team signed Durant, gaining an “unfair” advantage over the rest of the league. Now teams have an issue with the way Golden State spends their money on players. If Warriors owners sign off on Bob Myers doing whatever it takes to build a winner, so be it. It’s always something when it’s come to this team over this eight-year run.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Andrew Wiggins trade was seen as a bad deal for the Warriors. When the Warriors acquired Wiggins in the middle of the 2019-20 campaign, they were on their way to a 15-win season. This was an organization that had just appeared in their fifth consecutive NBA Finals the year before. But now there was no Thompson (ACL injury), Curry missed all but five games with a broken hand, and Durant had left for greener pastures in Brooklyn.
The problem is everyone outside of the bay area wrote the Warriors off once KD bounced. And the fact that they’ve not only returned but made it back to the Finals in the first season they’ve been fully healthy since Durant exited has a lot of people in their feelings. Not just fans either. Other NBA teams are looking for anything to nitpick about Golden State, so they’re pointing out their spending habits.
In some ways, it’s similar to the New York Yankees in baseball. Sure, one sport has a salary cap, and the other doesn’t, but that hasn’t stopped NBA teams from complaining about the Warriors having financial advantages. Golden State has the highest team salary and is estimated to be spending the most in luxury tax penalties for 2021-22. That sounds like the Yankees minus the luxury tax.
Much of the Warriors’ core has been homegrown talent to a certain extent, like those Yankees. Sure, the Yankees have never been shy about signing talent away from other teams as the Warriors did with Durant. But if you go back to the late 1990s-early 2000s dynasty of the Yankees, many of their core players came up through the organization.
The Yankees operated within the rules that were allowed. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, and Jorge Posada were Yankees through and through. Then, of course, they went and signed big names like Roger Clemens, Alex Rogriguez, and Jason Giambi simply because they could. And the Warriors are doing the same thing in many respects.
This all sounds like sour grapes. Teams feel like they’re having difficulty competing, so they need someone to blame. Never mind all the bad deals they make and draft picks that don’t pan out. The Warriors are an easy target for blame. They have been since day one of their run. And they’ll continue to be so long as they continue to make Finals appearances. Should Golden State defeat the Celtics to win their fourth title in eight years (seventh overall), we may have to start referring to the Warriors as the new evil empire.