The Warriors are a ruthlessly efficient team run by a fiery, undersized center who will take out his anger on your dick and balls and a teeny-tiny point guard who carries himself with a non-insistent swagger, and they’re owned by a techno-libertarian pug who named his dogs after Ayn Rand characters. They play fun, hyperspeed basketball, but there’s an air of inevitability about them that’s led the team to be cast as the villains of these Finals. I enjoy watching them slice opponents to ribbons, and there’s no quantitative argument against their greatness, but there’s still something occasionally cold about them. They can be worryingly machine-like.
That is, except for Brazilian center Anderson Varejão.
Varejão is fully capable of playing within his means and orchestrating the Warriors offense from the high post, but he’s also the type of dude that will, right in the middle of a game-ending Steph Curry run, decide to add one to his And-1 highlight reel and dribble through the entire Thunder defense.
Varejão plays only slightly more than his predecessor at the end of the Warriors’ big man rotation (Jason Thompson, an utterly forgettable power forward who couldn’t even spell Luis Scola in the playoffs), but his scant minutes are always weird. Simply put, he tries shit. He offers none of the defensive stability of Festus Ezeli or the uncanny shooting of Mareese Speights, but he’s a willing passer who simultaneously doesn’t mind looking off a world historic shooter to try and do a dunk or something. And due to the tumultuous season he’s had, he’ll get a championship ring no matter who wins the Finals.
Varejão played 11 seasons of competent, occasionally good, basketball with Cleveland, in which he started about half the time and missed about half of his career with various injuries. He was never the sidekick LeBron James needed, but he was a fan favorite, and the Cavs were almost always better with him on the court.
After he got sacrificed to the salary cap gods this season, the Warriors were a curious destination, given their team full of precisely interlocking parts. But his friendship with Leandro Barbosa and (maybe) knowledge of the Cavs got him a spot. Because he’s played with both Finals teams this year, he’ll get a ring no matter who wins. That’s a fitting reward for an oft-injured dude who almost died halfway through his career-best season from a blood clot in his lung. Varejão’s not going to play a lot in the Finals, but he’s earned his ring, whichever logo is on it.