One summer after being subjected to a variety of slights and swipes and even scoffs, the Warriors now, with the addition of four-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, are being cast as the evil empire, built to rampage and destroy.
If the Warriors thought they were being targeted last season, with unprecedented levels of scrutiny, just wait.
“That’s going to be the case even more so now,” coach Steve Kerr told CSNBayArea.com this week.
The Warriors, coming off their 2015 championship and riding the Steph Curry wave, already were the league’s most popular team. Now that they’ve gone Next Level, though, they’re a global phenomenon certain to be inspected ad nauseum. Team performances will be analyzed, as will individual games.
So, too, will the words of every player or coach or team official and maybe even the vendors and cheerleaders.
They’ve already gotten a preview, according to Kerr. Klay Thompson’s recent comment in which he was quoted saying he’s “not sacrificing (expletive)” with Durant’s arrival was dissected for several days, with a wide variety of inferences.
“There’s two ways to look at that comment,” Kerr said. “People may be interpreting that he’s saying, ‘I’m not sacrificing any shots. I’m still going to do what I do.’ I look at it like I don’t think any of our guys are sacrificing. They all understand they are completely fortunate to add this guy to our team and we’re going to be better for it.
“There’s no sacrifice as individuals when you’re talking about your team getting better,” Kerr added. “If you really look at things from a team perspective, you understand that you’re really not sacrificing anything. That was how I took Klay’s comments.”
Yet Thompson, not known for the controversial statement, generally was depicted in an unflattering light. On a team with Durant and Curry, the reigning MVP and scoring champ, Thompson would appear to be the No. 3 scoring option. His words were enough to initiate debate.
Kerr cited a recent a high-profile trio as an example, pointing out the endless conversation surrounding the Miami Heat when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in 2010.
“I always laughed when people talked about how much Wade and Bosh sacrificed with LeBron in Miami,” Kerr said. “If you want to say, well, they sacrificed a few shots per game, then, yeah, you can use that word: sacrifice.
“I think what Klay was saying is . . . of course, it’s not sacrificing; he gets to play with Kevin Durant. So what’s he really sacrificing?”
Though Thompson shrugged it off the mini-tempest, he’d rather go about his work with as little unwanted attention as possible. Arrive, dress, play, win, and go home.
Such simple times are long gone for a team that will monitored by several levels of media, from countless countries, in multiple languages. The Warriors, like it or not, are bound to provide more fodder for talk shows than any team, in any sport, in the United States.
The 24-hour news cycle never stops, and they’re seven weeks away from a season under a thousand spotlights.
“It’s what I always tell our players and our coaches,” Kerr said. “This is a pretty good deal that we get. You sign up for the deal, and you get to live a great life.
“But part of the deal is you get scrutinized, you get criticized, you’ve got to move, you get cut, you get traded, you get fired. All that stuff is part of it.”
The whispers of disrespect once directed to the Warriors have given way to cries of infinite ambition and contemptible indulgence. The target is on their backs, bigger than ever.