It is what it is right now in the NBA. Order is now being restored.
The Golden State Warriors are back in the cellar for the first time in almost a decade, and the league couldn't be much happier. They are taking this time to get their revenge. But is it really revenge or just another narrative designed to appease the masses who do not reside on Warriors Ground?
This is from an ESPN article two days ago:
"Despite an obvious opportunity to win against the battered Warriors, (Atlants Hawks coach Lloyd) Pierce said the Hawks didn't prioritize Monday's game."
The Warriors. Back to irrelevance. Not a priority.
This was the Warriors' reality since the early '80s - save 2 or 3 blips on the playoff radar - until the dynastic run that just ended this past summer. They were a laughingstock, a punchline, and a write-in "W" on the calendar weeks before thr actual game. The league with its default marquee teams and a select group of also-rans for a few years enjoyed the Warriors being an easy mark in a difficult place to play. No one expected anything from them. They were far from a threat and even further from a priority unless they wanted to fleece them of their most valuable players.
And then this decade happened: an ownership change, foundational draft picks including a generational talent, tide-turning free-agent pickups, and a coach with an innovative culture and offensive system. This made the Dubs - a longtime farm system for the Association going back to the days of Robert Parrish - a desirable destination for roomies and veterans alike. Not to mention their uncanny ability of turning the trash of one team, or several teams, into their treasure (JaVale McGhee).
3 titles out of 4 trips to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant's migration to the Warriors after 2 of those trips. An embarrassment of riches built over a 6 year span. Awards and records amassed by several of their All-Star, homegrown players. And the failure of teams to beat them at their own game, or overpower them with their star power.
The NBA had had enough. So it was time for the Association to strike back.
And the presenting of rings to the Toronto Raptors coupled with the Warriors' breakdown in the Finals this summer presented the opportunity the league and non-Warriors fans had been looking for.
Revenge. At least that's the narrative they're selling.
I would argue that revenge has already occurred. It started around 2009 when the Warriors drafted Stephen Curry. The slow build into a basketball juggernaut was only known to the Almighty because jokes about Steph's ankles dominated the NBA's view of the Warriors' centerpiece. Lest we forget the prevailing perception of Golden State.
What we see happening here is not revenge, but something else best defined by Merriam-Webster:
Backlash: a strong or violent reaction, as to some social or political change.
Some say it was Arthur Schopenhauer who said that truth passes through three phases. It is first ridiculed, then violently opposed, then accepted as self-evident. Clearly, the NBA landscape scrambled those stages. First, Golden State was ridiculed for the better part of 3 decades. Then they forced everyone to recognize them as self-evident WHILE being violently opposed (see Barkley, Charles). Then after the fall of the dynasty, violent opposition grew even more. Now teams desire to teach the Warriors their rightful place in the NBA empire.
Not a priority.
How dare they act like they are the Lakers or Celtics with their storied history, or any team LeBron James joins prompting instantaneous expectations of a Finals appearance. So let the beatdowns commence. It's time to give them a taste of the medicine they had given everyone the past few years.
Except the NBA empire was the one with the laboratory.
Look, I get it. Golden State didn't do themselves any favors in a couple of cases, one in which the owner talked about being "light years" ahead of the league. But the fact is the NBA used to reward teams that came up from nowhere and went about it the right way, garnering the team with deserved respect and accolades especially with a transcendent talent in their midst who got them over the hump...like the '80s and '90s Bulls. The league went against that practice this time and is showing their true colors.
So now Golden State is 4-18 for the year with a team of 8 or 9 fluctuatingly active players on their best night, a slew of injuries suffered by their core, Draymond Green trying hard to accept not being a winner for once in his life, and a league hellbent on treating them like the scrubs they used to be. The gloating that they participate in over the Dubs' currest state is just gravy. Because they're mad and it's time for The Big Payback, in James Brown terms.
Except that the Warriors had already got them back. And in sociopolitical language, you don't follow successful revenge with more revenge. That is redundant. Success is followed by backlash. Roland Martin will even cosign on that.
What the league is embracing is comparable to The Dark Side trying to strike back against the Rebellion. In their minds, it is high time to crush these uppity blue-and-gold miscreants and restore order to the NBA universe. And the fans who didn't like the Warriors' success are stormtrooping onto the planet of Backlash to set up shop and take advantage of this delicious moment to make Golden State their footstool again.
If you happen to fall into the group that was against Golden State, you are enjoying this - in more than a few cases, revelling in this - and have a ready comeback to any positive argument or apology for the Warriors. And the comeback isn't a pretty one. Nor is it entirely logical or balanced. It doesn't have to be in your minds. It is what it is right now in so many respects.
You don't have to agree. The contempt in your voice says it all.