Why The National Media Continues to Favor The Warriors
1. They refuse the Eyeball test. Stats are interesting, insightful, and of course the most important single stat determines a win or loss. The new generation of analytics along with our visually mobile culture create an environment where we are easily swayed by charts and graphs. Basketball is suffering through this currently. There are ‘new method verse old school’ arguments around, and in this case I split the difference. Show all the stats and graphs you want, but don’t disregard the eyeball test! Lebron looks like he wants that Trophy more than he ever has before, his team is wounded and scary, they are bigger, play better defense, and who picks against that? Warriors look like they’ve never been there before, the coach and entire roster. Oh yeah, they haven’t. 9 rings on the Cavs, 17 Blatt trophies, and that shows in that no one on the Cavs are sweating (except Kevin Love at every mention of Kelly Olynyk.)
2. Know the sport. There are fundamental rules in the NBA game that many people miss. First – Playoffs are different than regular season. Regular season is actually the pre-season and people never understand that. Everything is harder in the playoffs. Everything s l o w s down, every window closes, every gap is smaller, every possession matters. You know the rule that good offense beats good defense? Reversed in the playoffs. Teams shut other teams down, destroy their offense, sweep them out at every level of the playoffs. No team would beat the same team 4 games straight in the regular season but the playoffs are different. Therefore, any analyst that talks about the regular season during the finals is rubbish.
Regular Season? You talking about the Regular Season? We ain’t talking about the Finals, we talking about Regular Season? We ain’t talking about The Finals. The Finals. You asking me about Regular Season?
These false experts also forget that the NBA Finals is closer to a pickup game played before the world than any formal event featuring beautiful basketball exhibitions. It’s a blood bath, a grind house, a painful struggle that only true champions survive. Cleveland learned this lesson in 2007 when professional champions from Texas exposed our overachieving newbies and a virgin GOAT. Fools underestimate the Eastern Conference champs every year based on regular season offense, combining both mistakes into the great lie. It’s 5 on 5, 1 basketball, for the chip, and regular season stats, politics, concepts, and offense go out the window.
3. Play the sport. If you, your kids, your brother, even your cousin you hang with spent real time playing basketball then you know a real baller, both playground and organized team. They didn’t need to be great themselves, just good enough to be on teams, go to practice, be on travel teams, good enough to get picked at the courts, and to even hold court. If they were professional or semi-pro they are experts. Yes high school counts, maybe even middle school! Bottom line is until you’ve jammed your hip and ass into some dude’s sweaty crotch over and over to keep him off the boards and chop him down a bit on offense you don’t really know basketball.
Appetizing description, I know, but my point is reading or watching basketball is not playing basketball. It’s a grind, it’s a game of sweat, cuts, poked eyes, bent fingertips, millimeters, frustration, and anger. It’s not stats, a narrative, or psychology. Most analysts never played, and only some of them admit it and let the real experts drive their narrative.
National analysts follow bandwagons and they follow sexy stories. We saw it a decade ago with Lebron. Perhaps the Miami version of Lebron wore out his welcome and the narrative has pushed past him, therefore he is not the sexy story, the obvious story, and this is basketball, not Hollywood. Austin Carr said the Warriors play “good basketball but pretty-boy basketball”. Welcome to the trenches.