Warriors' NBA Finals Game 5 victory was 'checkbook win,' Brian Windhorst says

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Windhorst claims Dubs' Game 5 victory was 'checkbook win' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

After Steph Curry dropped an epic 43 points on the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, the narrative was that he didn't have enough help, that he had to carry this Warriors team to a championship by himself.

Three days later, the Warriors now are one win away from an NBA championship because of how much they spent on their roster.

Narratives tend to swing wildly in the NBA, but even this is a bit much.

Shortly after Andrew Wiggins finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Warriors to a 104-94 win over the Celtics in Game 5 at Chase Center on Monday night, ESPN's Brian Windhorst attempted to sum up what happened.

"Andrew Wiggins is not an underdog," Windhorst told Scott Van Pelt on "SportsCenter" moments after the game. "He makes $32 million. While the Warriors were down these last couple of years, winning no games, they kept spending money because they've got it. They re-signed Draymond Green, they re-signed Steph Curry, they re-signed Kevon Looney. They kept Andrew Wiggins and boy did he show up tonight. Andrew Wiggins with the supreme moment of his career. He was the throw-in in a trade. Other teams would have totally gotten rid of him. They stuck with him. They have a $340 million payroll when you consider taxes. You don't just have to beat the Warriors on the court, you've got to beat their checkbook. Taking nothing away from Andrew Wiggins but this was a checkbook win for the Warriors."

Windhorst is correct about one thing. The Warriors have a roster that costs just under $176 million in taxable salaries, per Spotrac. They are just over $39 million over the luxury tax threshold, so their luxury tax bill is just over $170 million, adding up to roughly $346 million for this current roster.

But the Warriors aren't breaking any rules in order to have this roster. They are able to go over the salary cap to pay their own players. They are operating by the rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Windhorst's statement comes a week after fellow ESPN NBA analyst Zach Lowe reported, citing sources, that rival teams “already grumbling about Golden State's competitive spending advantage."

As one might imagine, Windhorst's comments didn't go over well with segments of Warriors fans and NBA Twitter.

The Warriors were criticized for adding Kevin Durant in 2016. When he left, they got D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade. When that didn't work out, they turned him into Wiggins, but most pundits wondered if he would fit considering his track record in Minnesota.

Now that he's thriving in the Warriors' system, they are taking flack for having him on the roster.

Aside from Wiggins, the rest of the Warriors' core are all homegrown pieces that they drafted, developed and kept. Curry, Green, Klay Thompson, Looney. Jordan Poole was a draft pick who has taken three years to blossom.

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This year, the Warriors complemented their core with two lottery draft picks (Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody), three minimum contracts (Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica), as well as Gary Payton II, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee.

The way the Warriors have built their roster, kept it together and re-tooled it after the Durant era and two years away from the playoffs should be celebrated, not trivialized by being called a "checkbook win."