I’m just as excited as you are about the NBA Finals beginning tonight.
Instead of strapping into my recliner for Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, I will be playing pick-up basketball with my friends.
I try not to put too much pressure on the first game of the series, because I know how badly I want a long, dramatic NBA Finals.
Our current American media structure is built around making predictions. They’re even legalizing gambling on sports to hammer that point home.
But, predictions are pointless, vain attempts at making sense of something that is fundamentally strange.
There are no guarantees in sports, no matter how good a player or team is.
Which is what has made this Warriors run even more remarkable. They have had the most talented team for a long time, but they’ve also weathered injuries, poor luck, and games when their shot just wasn’t falling. They have done that for more than five seasons in a row.
There is only one reason that a dynasty like the Warriors can exist: trust at the highest level.
The Warriors trust each other like Navy SEALs. They have bought in.
Under Coach Mark Jackson at the beginning of their run, they discovered their exceptional talent. When Steve Kerr was brought in, he somehow got all of the star players to commit to his system, and they haven’t looked back.
The Warriors don’t always have a definitive set play on offense. They run a true, old-school motion-style offense. It only works if players trust each other enough to constantly be in motion with or without the ball.
When you move on a basketball court, it causes a chain reaction. You can get another player an open shot by cutting from one side of the floor to another.
It sounds simple, but it’s difficult. Players, especially good ones, don’t want to give up the ball, much less run around for twenty seconds in hopes of getting someone else a shot.
But when you have five guys executing a pure motion offense properly, shots will fall from the sky.
Steph Curry never stops moving, with or without the ball, because he knows his teammates are always going to set screens for him, find him for an open shot, or that he can keep moving to help someone else find success.
Analysts will focus on how the Raptors should defend the Warriors. Should they switch every pick? Should they hedge the screener on the pick-and-roll?
Ignore these people. They want to use buzzwords to sound smart and over-analyze something that’s quite simple.
Coach Nick Nurse will tell his Toronto team to do what they have been doing all season long: trust in what got them there.
They don’t need to change their entire defense. They don’t need to worry about if they should switch or fight through each screen. They already know how to defend.
The Raptors need to trust that their system is good enough to win.
The Warriors do that every time they step on the court.
People have lamented the way the Warriors have changed the game, but I see it as major growth.
Golden State shows what sort of success you can find when you trust your teammates. They play beautiful basketball.
I have hated on the Dubs for years. I thought they were arrogant, whiny babies.
Since Kevin Durant has been injured, I’ve become a fan again. Draymond Green has stopped complaining every time down the floor. Curry is back in the driver’s seat and Klay Thompson is possibly the best spot-up shooter I’ve ever seen.
They are living proof that team basketball wins out. Team sports thrive on stars, but in the post-Michael-Jordan era, we’re seeing that the collective is the most important part of the puzzle.
Hero-ball is dying.
I hope my teammates will keep the Warriors in mind tonight when we’re playing pick-up ball.
I predict that they won’t.