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The Hater’s Guide To The 2016 NBA Finals

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A few years ago, when my children were very small, I lamented the fact that I had to cut a great deal of sports out of my life. This happens when you have a baby. There’s no time to watch a tetrafinal playoff game because the kid needs to be fed or taken for a stroll or put to bed or have its butt wiped. But now my children are older, and more self-reliant, and I am slowly coming out of the great parenting fog and reclaiming my sports fandom. I have watched most of these NBA playoffs and I have discovered, to my great delight, that there is a LOT to hate about the two teams you will watch do battle tonight.

That’s right, people. It’s time to put on the grumpy pants and say horrible, spiteful things about the Cavs and the Warriors. And for this hater’s guide preview, I’m ranking all the players involved by hateability. Keep in mind that everything I know about these players comes from watching only a tiny and recent sample of their work, which represents a HUGE leap in effort on my part. Please note that I am leaving out scrubs like Sasha Kaun from this list because I don’t know them. Who is Sasha Kaun? Sounds like a real loser to me. Okay, let’s do this. We’re going from least hateable to most hateable, starting with…

21. Shaun Livingston. Come on, man. The guy had a bomb go off inside his leg. If you hate Shaun Livingston, you’re barely human. Even I’m not that much of a contrarian dickbag. God, what if he gets hurt again? I can’t take it. Not this week. Not with Harambe gone.


20. Andre Iguodala. Fantastic and enjoyable player who has yet to piss me off in any way, shape, or form. If you have evidence of Andre’s hateability, please share it in the comments. I’m not comfortable with how much I enjoy his work. I must be missing something.

19. Timofey Mozgov. Is cocksucker.

18. Festus Ezeli. His name sounds like a holiday!

17. Channing Frye. Has robbed us of many potentially adorable Timofey Mozgov minutes.

16. Andrew Bogut. As a Buck? Huge, pathetic bust. As a Warrior? ADORABLE ROLE PLAYER.

15. Richard Jefferson. Still in the league! Like Mr. Strickland, has never had hair.


14. Klay Thompson. I’m sure it’s awful to root against Thompson and then watch him nail eight threes in a row. But I can’t bring myself to hate him. I have a soft spot in my heart for players that jack up threes endlessly, especially when they make them. I am the guy who demands his football team throw deep on every play. So, for me, the three is the cheapest thrill in sports. You step back, you jack the three, and then there’s a little tiny orgasm before it sinks through the hoop. All shots should be threes or dunks, and so I appreciate Golden State’s commitment to my viewing needs. NEVER STOP JACKIN’, MEN.

13. Kyrie Irving. I shouldn’t be soothed by his laundry-folding commercial, and yet here we are. The only reason I dislike Irving is because he’ll get hurt in the second quarter tonight and take whatever suspense there was to be had in this series with him.


12. Tristan Thompson. Far more tolerable now that Cleveland’s No. 2 scoring option is NOT him putting back shots that LeBron misses. By the way, Thompson got an $82 million contract this offseason, mostly because LeBron likes him. Remind me to be friends with LeBron. He can fund my revamped Clownfister website.

11. Leandro Barbosa. Former Sun who is annoyingly productive in scant minutes. I don’t care for him despite the fact that he has a great name for romance novels. [Update: I originally called Barbosa a former Spur because I got him mixed up with Boris Diaw. This is Barbosa’s fault and he deserves to be ranked higher now.]


10. J.R. Smith. I don’t support his “killing passengers” policy, but I DO support his “choking teens” policy. You see my conundrum. Frankly, J.R. would have been near the top of this list a few years ago back when he was on the Knicks and launching missed threes from his dining room. But now he’s shockingly reliable and even likable despite still being an object of affection for insufferable basketbloggers.

9. Iman Shumpert. Missed every shot he took in last year’s Finals but made up for it by boldly rocking the Kid ‘n Play haircut.


8. Marreese Speights. He’s so fat! How do you get that fat playing 82 games a season? He must have his own training table. You could roast his shoulder and feed a family of 18. If Speights takes the court, you know that you are not watching Golden State playing at maximum fun levels. It’s like watching your favorite show get trapped in a distracting subplot. FUCK OFF, PASTOR TIM.

7. Anderson Varejão. Still has the Fry Guy hair. As with Speights, only gets playing time because other people are hurt and/or resting, which means the game you’re watching isn’t as good as it will be five minutes from now. Also, he wins a championship ring no matter which team wins this series. Karl Malone appreciates that kind of deft coattail riding.


6. Kevin Love. Frankly, I admire Love’s commitment to not playing defense. Defensive players are annoying (see the top of this list), and I don’t pay attention to defense anyway. The new, no-defense Cavaliers are far more enjoyable than last year’s model. That said, I have no idea if Love is actually good or not. All I know is that he looks like the before shot in every Gillette commercial.

5. Steph Curry. I haven’t learned to hate Curry yet, but many people already have, and I appreciate their efforts. Give me time and I’ll hate Curry for the same reasons you do:

  • He is good and wins a lot!
  • He’s a damned showboat! HOW DARE YOU TURN YOUR BACK ON THAT SHOT, SIR.
  • Sometimes he dribbles like you get extra points for it!
  • If you’re rooting against him, he hits dagger shots at the most annoying possible moment. It’s like watching Dallas Clark catch 20 passes a game.
  • He’s so small! Why don’t defenders just stomp on him and grind him into the floor? GET HIM.
  • He’s a fucking phony. Anytime you talk about God that much publicly—à la Russell Wilson—I assume you sneak out every night to have a four-way donkey orgy.
  • His dad was an NBA player. Only reason Steph got a job in the league!
  • Three pointers are for cowards! Come into the paint and fight like a MAN.
  • The mouthguard thing. Just keep that thing in your mouth, man. I bet he thinks he looks so cool chewing on that thing, too. What a goddamn dork.

Also, Curry in on the latest cover of Parents magazine, which is currently resting on my toilet tank. So every time I take a shit, I gotta look at this guy playing around with his adorable podium kids*. AREN’T WE JUST MISTER FUCKING PERFECT? Fuck you, buddy.

*For real, don’t make your kid a press conference star. It’s a recipe for disaster. That kid will be tweeting like Jaden Smith a decade from now.


4. Harrison Barnes. Every time Barnes makes a shot, I’m genuinely surprised. It’s like seeing Tim Tebow complete a pass, or hearing Donald Trump say something coherent. Defenders leave him open all the time because he shoots with the consistency of an epileptic doing a spirograph. “Oh wow, he made one! Guess it’s not our night!”

3. LeBron James. LeBron has obviously buffed up his image from a few years ago, but on the court he’s still a DEEPLY annoying player. I know that the “Hey! How was that not a foul?” face is now standard for all NBA players and NFL wide receivers, but LeBron does it every fucking possession. And it’s LeBron James! He’s built like a fucking tank. Do you REALLY need that foul call when you have the strength to wipe out armies with a wave of your hand? LeBron is the kid at Christmas who bitches because there are no more presents left to open.


2. Draymond Green. I thought I liked the Warriors until they finally decided to play a game before 2 a.m. and I saw Draymond with my own eyes. What a fucking prick. Now that casual fans like me and your mom know how dirty of a player Draymond is, we are all fully on the Fuck Draymond bandwagon. He’s not even that good. The only reason he prospers is because the Warriors have two players that need to be guarded even when they’re eight miles from the basket. He takes a zillion threes for no good reason. I hope he gets hit with a brick, and he’d clearly be the top player on this list if not for…

1. Matthew Dellavedova. Of course. The only reason Delly—a breathlessly irritating player is overly praised for his defense because he has no other viable skills—might not deserve No. 1 on this list is because the Cavs are healthy this year, which means I won’t have to look at his stupid face as much as I did last year. I’m shocked Delly doesn’t rock YMCA goggles for every game. One day someone will break his eye socket and he’ll have to get a pair and the look will be complete.


I was all set to put Draymond Green here, and then I imagined what would happen if those two got into a light shoving match tonight (which is a near certainty). Then I thought about who I would root for and... yup. Yup, I would root for Delly to catch one right in the walnut basket. Fuck Delly, and fuck Draymond, and fuck Kevin Draper eternally. Enjoy the Finals, everyone!

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.

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