If you believe in sports karma, then the Warriors’ season was doomed as soon as their majority owner, Joe Lacob, gave his now memorable quote to the New York Times.
“We’re light years ahead of… every other team in structure,” Lacob said, “in planning, in how we’re going about things.”
There’s something else to give credence to the idea Lacob doomed the Warriors with his arrogance. The Warriors were 68-7 before the interview. They went 20-11 afterward. Since that Lacob feature, Steph Curry tweaked his ankle then slipped on a wet spot and sprained his MCL, Draymond Green couldn’t stop hitting (and kicking) opponents below the belt, and the Warriors became the first team in history to blow a 3-1 NBA Finals lead.
Of course that nightmare few weeks looks like it’ll be a footnote in basketball history as the Warriors have landed Kevin Durant and are seemingly headed to a dynasty of two or three championships in the next few years. It would be easy to point to the Warriors’ ability to land Durant as another sign of them being “light years ahead,” but it would ignore the fact that the Warriors are the beneficiaries of a series of once-in-a-lifetime serendipitous events that have all landed in their favor.
Don’t be mistaken, the Warriors have one of the smartest front offices in all of sports. They’ve made some of the best draft picks of the last decade, landing Curry and Klay Thompson outside the top five. Even Harrison Barnes — despite his abysmal performance in the last three games of the Finals — was a decent lottery pick. They also grabbed Green and Festus Ezeli late in that same draft.
The Warriors were also unafraid to make moves that were initially criticized. The move to trade Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut was controversial because people didn’t believe trading away a scorer for a hobbled big guy was a good move for the future. The Warriors also fired Mark Jackson even though he got the team into the playoffs, opting for rookie coach, Steve Kerr. The move took guts and was ultimately better off for the team in both the short and long runs.
Then the Warriors opted against trading for Kevin Love in a deal centered around Thompson because Jerry West and others figured the two best shooters ever in the same backcourt would be better than one shooter and a big man. These are all brilliant moves by an organization built on ingenuity and forward-thinking.