OAKLAND -– Having spent this entire basketball season bathing in the warm bosom of adulation, the Warriors suddenly find themselves in need of tough love, perhaps even a series of hard knocks.
Will losing two of three games, as they have, be enough to foster their old edge?
Though they might not have gone completely soft, the Warriors acknowledge that hearing constant applause and feeling so much global love as they win games at a record-breaking pace may be taking a toll.
“Honestly, yes,” Draymond Green said late Tuesday night, after the 124-117 overtime loss to Minnesota.
“I’m sure it has,” center Andrew Bogut said Wednesday morning. “Every day it’s the same question. Every day is the same thing on TV. Every day it’s same (intended) articles. Every day, there’s a new former player that has a comment.
“It’s just something you’ve got to deal with it. It’s not an excuse.”
Excuse, no. New reality? Yes.
So having two losses so close together – and knowing another will deny the possibility of reaching a record 73 wins – is bringing about a certain apprehension. There is more worry than seems reasonable for a 69-9 team that has All-Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
“It’s the ultimate compliment,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s like when Steph or Klay has open 3-pointer and they miss at Oracle. The whole crowd groans because they can’t believe that they missed. We lose a game and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, they lost.’
“Well, that’s a pretty good sign. Better than the opposite: ‘Oh my God, they won.’ ”
Another element: the demands. With the Warriors becoming a global story and Curry a global phenomenon, the team’s downtown Oakland facility has become, for local and national sports media, ground zero. The hallway outside the practice courts is lined with TV production equipment. National writers from web sites and magazines and newspapers constantly descend upon the team.
Players, usually the three All-Stars, constantly are being requested.
NPR was on the premises Wednesday exploring if the revival of the Warriors is somehow tied to the socioeconomic revival of Oakland.
The chase for 73 has, in a few short months, brought upon the Warriors a dramatic change in lifestyle. And it’s one that doesn’t jibe with losing.
“It’s new to a lot of people, not just to the team or organization but everybody around,” forward Andre Iguodala said. “There’s a newness to this, so everybody kind of rushes to hit the panic button.
“For us, it’s just getting back to the basics, getting back to the fundamentals. If we do that, then everything else takes care of itself.”
Though Green says the Warriors are not “caught up in the hype,” he couldn’t dismiss its effect. And it’s not going anywhere as long as they have a chance to become the first team ever to win 73 games.
The number comes up too often to be tuned out. There is no hiding from it.
“Not in today’s day and age,” Green said. “It’s impossible for sure. You open your phone up, and it’s right there.”