As the Golden State Warriors embark on what is, at the very least, the most hyped season in the NBA since the beginning of the Miami Heat’s Big Three era, there is an irony to this campaign: It’s the drum roll for a team that won’t really try to live up to the hype.
“It’s obviously a very serious, important issue,” said Lakers first-year head coach Luke Walton. “I think something needs to be done. This country is too great to have happen what keeps happening. What that is, we’ll decide as a group and continue to talk about what we can do.
“But I think, most importantly, it’s what we get behind as an organization, individually and as a team. I know a lot of the media runs with what happens during the national anthem, which is a very big subject, because it’s touchy from both sides. But to me, it’s about what kind of change can we make. And that comes from getting with organizations that are in action within the community and giving out time, money and whatever else we can to help this problem get fixed.”
Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. said players discussed possibly locking arms and that the team’s coaching staff and front office said they’ll support the players’ decision.
“Obviously, something needs to be done about this in the United States today,” Nance said. “But as far as my stance, we as a team are currently in discussions of what we’re going to do as a group, as a whole. That’s something that I think the brand of the Lakers can really make an impact on.”
As forward Julius Randle added, “I think definitely there’s a way for us to all get together and making an impact on what’s going on. Guys need to say something, and something needs to be said.”
Oh, the team with two former MVPs — Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — will certainly compete. The Warriors will also seek to play well on a nightly basis. What they will not do, however, is try for another wins record, after an NBA-record 73 victories last season. So, 74 wins isn’t the goal this season, even if it’s somehow plausible with this unprecedented collection of talent.
Could the Warriors have had a dominating postseason if they’d relinquished a dominating regular season? We will never know. Some choices only look like choices in retrospect. For much of the season, the San Antonio Spurs were right there, challenging for the top seed. And when the Spurs finally fell back, history was so tantalizingly attainable. At that point, going for 73 wins was less a decision than a calling.
In any event, the Warriors never looked quite as good as they did in the first half of last season. So the goal this season is to perhaps reverse that process, to build strength as opposed to eroding it. There’s also the more obvious, basic goal — the one head coach Steve Kerr kept insisting was all that mattered to him last season.
As Green put it, “Obviously our goal every year is to come out and get the No. 1 seed. And the most important goal is to win a championship. I think there definitely may be bumps in the road; it’s not going to be all great like a lot of people think it is. And some people think it isn’t. I know it’s going to take some time for us to adjust. I’m looking forward to that. A lot of people think if we even start 19-6, the world is coming to an end.”
Kerr has been making similar statements, as have others in the Golden State organization. It’s a quixotic bid to manage expectations, surely doomed to fail. The Warriors won’t be expected to win 73 again, but a losing streak won’t exactly be forgiven. With Durant in tow, they have more firepower than possibly any team ever. Excuses for losing won’t be forthcoming.