These dynastic Warriors haven't ruined the NBA and they likely never will

Ray Ratto
NBC Sports BayArea

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Coverage of the Warriors 2018 Championship Parade begins Tuesday at 9:30am on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Now that we have had time to digest the notion of the Golden State Warriors have again ruined the NBA by winning its highest honor, the time is right to remind all and sundry that lots of teams have ruined the NBA over the life of the NBA, and the NBA hasn't gone bad yet.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

In other words, it is already time to reject the notion that the Warriors ruined the NBA for whatever reason burns holes in your brain. They cannot ruin it in five more title years, and they cannot ruin it if Klay Thompson were found to be running a gigantic game-fixing ring.

But if you must . . .

The Minneapolis Lakers ruined the NBA with George Mikan. The Boston Celtics ruined the NBA with Bill Russell. The Los Angeles Lakers ruined the NBA with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and re-ruined it later with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Chicago Bulls ruined the NBA with Michael Jordan.

Hell, based on that list, the Warriors haven't even begun to ruin the NBA. Besides that, what would be the benefit of ruining something of which you finally an integral part? The joy of standing over a pile of soot is very fleeting indeed.

Now the argument, albeit a tepid one, is whether the Warriors are a dynasty. Old-timers have always subscribed to the notion that three straight titles is the minimum standard, and Golden State's three-in-four fall just a hair short.

Those of a younger bent, though, have lived in a century in which only one of the 123 Big Four teams has won three consecutive titles (the 2000-02 Lakers) and a second (the 1998-2000 Yankees) finished their run. They watched the Chicago Cubs (108 years), Chicago White Sox (88), Boston Red Sox (86), Philadelphia Eagles (57), San Francisco Giants (56), Chicago Blackhawks (49), Golden State (40), Boston Bruins (39) and Philadelphia Phillies (38) go two generations  before winning, and another 17 teams win their first title, most recently the Drinking Across The Continent Capitals.

So in that context, three in four seems pretty damned dynastic, which leads all of you into an argument about whether the Giants of '10, '12 and '14 are a dynasty too. Well, go enjoy your slippery slope, kids. I've officially lost interest.

Back to the point, though. There are indeed lots of teams that have ruined their sport by being excellent at it. It is the nature of life. Success eventually stops being success. It is why we aren't Hittites or Macedonians or Romans or Visigoths. Eventually, the Warriors will some day become a small Balkan country again and then work to recreate the alchemy that made them the thing they are now.

The problem, of course, is what the speaker regards as ruination. Yes, the Warriors ruined the suspense a season is supposed to bring, but no more than the other teams we have mentioned. Yes, the Warriors have ruined the concept of bringing their A-game every night, but the best teams have always known that (don't forget the Bulls' third championship capped off a 57-25 regular season and a two-seed). Yes, they have managed to be one of the rare teams who never let you see them sweat, but who needs more sweat from other people in their lives?

But the real reasons they are the ones ruining the NBA are not just because they figured out how to diminish the regular season while all their competitors needed to glorify it. The real reason is not even because they muscled their way into the league's long-established hierarchy of elites after knowing their place as a safe, underperforming nonentity for most of their history.

It's because they are acting like the stereotypical New York Yankees, who in their free agency heydays made merely being a Yankee worth more than being a Dodger or a Cardinal or a Red Stocking. Even LeBron James has indirectly offered up the notion that he might take a meeting with them, which would be the most spectacular act of if-you-can't-beat-‘em since Reggie Jackson bolted Oakland for New York.

The Warriors rendered the adrenalized free agent and offseason machinations of the past two seasons a $6 billion deck-chair readjustment by taking Kevin Durant and leaving everyone else to spend on lottery hopes and raffle prayers, and now that Durant has re-re-re-confirmed his desire to remain in Oakland, this offseason looks at first glance to be remarkably similar.

This will not be true forever, of course; it may not even be true in 2020 when they complete the transition from Oakland to Oakcisco to San Francisco.

But their days of being the latest team to ruin the NBA are shortening. After all, their next real goal is to be the next San Antonio Spurs, who were imposing organizational figures for 20 years, and admirable though the Spurs' two-decade run has been, nobody ever accused them of ruining anything more sacred than the in-game interview, an ongoing abomination not even Doris Burke can save.

And the only thing after that is to be either the Jordan Bulls or the Russell Celtics, and that is still well in the over-your-skis range. And they still left an NBA behind for their successors to ruin.

So the Warriors ruined the NBA, and yet everyone seems so pleased. Or maybe that's just resignation. Either way, drink up. These days will pass soon enough.

What to Read Next