Memory Lane… What If… What if… What if…
By: Jordan Ramirez
I was watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” the other night when, during the round-table discussion segment, Maher mentions the Republican “bubble” that conservatives constantly live in. In this “bubble,” Maher argues that conservatives are so enthralled with their own ideologies that they completely diminish (and thus ignore) the thoughts of not only liberals, but the realists.
These self-pleasing, almost psychopathic “bubbles” differ from what actually is occurring in the country today. It leaves the people who see things with an open mind, the people with no such agenda shaking their head and wondering if there is something, anything that can happen in their favor.
This brings me to the Golden State Warriors.
Last week, following the Warriors victory over the Portland Trailblazers, I was especially taken back with Mark Jackson’s comments regarding center Andris Biedrins.
“Because Dre is as good as it gets as a post defender in this league. We have two elite post defenders in Kwame Brown and Andris Biedrins. He sets the tone defensively. He rebounds. He’s an absolute underrated defender. To me he’s having a very good year. He’s not scoring, but he’s having a very good year. And he sets the tone for our defense.”
Ignoring the fact that Mark Jackson cringingly calls Andris “Dre,” an insult to the once great Dr. Dre (still waiting on Detox by the way), I can’t even fathom the idea of Andris being even remotely close to an “elite” defender or classifying his season as a “very good year.” An unbelievably shocking, practically insulting statement from the first year head coach.
Warriors fans love their rumors and juicy “What if?” scenarios. It‘s become common practice for fans to dream of superstars coming to Oracle only to have another suitor make that very move. Before the season began it was reported that a potential Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Ekpe Udoh for Chris Paul deal was on the table. A well-chronicled report, there were no assurances from Paul that he would sign the extension with the Warriors. No assurances, no deal.
Paul, the most complete point guard in the league, is a floor general. His numbers (18.6 points, 9.9 assists for his career) pale in comparison to his leadership on the floor.
The Warriors unwillingness to deal for Paul without an extension has quickly proven to be a catastrophic mistake. Why not deal for Paul and (gasp!) try to convince him to stay a la the New Jersey Nets and Deron Williams? Jersey dealt the house for Williams and while their current state isn’t one to be proud of, their future certainly has great potential. A new arena in Brooklyn and the cap space to pair Williams with, say Dwight Howard, was well worth the risk.
The risk in the Paul deal was the possibility of him leaving after this season. But for the Warriors, a team with nothing to lose, don’t you have to do that deal? They’re certainly not a playoff team without Paul, and while trading for Paul wouldn’t guarantee a thing, the risk was still worth taking. No Paul and you’re stuck with the current slightly-below-average-but-still-marketable trio of Curry, Ellis and Lee. With Paul you have a franchise centerpiece and an attractive superstar that other players want to play with.
This isn’t the first time this situation has presented itself. Under the previous regime the Warriors were given the chance to acquire (on separate occasions) Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire. Both players in their prime, both would prove to be the franchise altering move fans were clamoring for. But, like the Paul deal, the Warriors failed to pull the trigger.
All separate deals resulting in the same outcome: nothing. The Warriors, whether they think it or not, are still the same old Warriors we’ve grown accustomed to. A franchise so engrossed in their own beliefs that they fail to harness the ability to make the major deal. The inability to make such a deal — the deal that could potentially take them from anonymity to NBA contenders — is the main reason why the Warriors are still in the same position they’ve been in for years.
With bloated contracts and no clear franchise centerpiece, the Warriors still are a team in disarray.
It’s easy to say in hindsight that the Warriors should have done any of these deals, but we can’t ignore what these non-deals signify.
Hesitancy, fear, overvaluing of the product or simply brainwashed into thinking the team currently constructed can produce the “winner” Joe Lacob so desires. Still, 14 months after owning an NBA franchise, Lacob fails to recognize what it takes to be a successful NBA owner: reality.
Lacob can proclaim that the Warriors backcourt warrants no change; Jackson can continue to say that Biedrins is an “elite low post defender” and the fans can continue to pack Oracle Arena in hopes of witnessing a different product. But, until proven otherwise, the Warriors will continue to be managed through their blasphemous “bubble” where hope is its most valuable product (and selling point).
As long as Lacob and Co. are looking at the team through rose colored glasses, this franchise isn’t going to be a winner. Not now, not in Oakland, not in San Francisco and certainly not in the NBA. Instead of promoting change, running a quasi-political campaign and looking at this franchise through their own “bubble,” ownership should be focused on properly evaluating talent and making the necessary moves.
Success doesn’t have to be foreign. But it can’t be achieved through ignorance either.