Something Else Altogether
(BASKETBALL IS NOW JAZZ. And I am exhausted. So you will have to make due with several different sizes of the same photo of Alan Shorter, who always makes me think of this night.)
You know what, this does change everything. Fuck pointing to the Suns, minimizing Dirk, or saying the Mavs lost this all by themselves. The Warriors took this one fair, square, and definitively, with Dallas floundering so often that it couldn't have been a function of weakness or rust. That could explain spells, but the tenor of this series was one team dominating another with a few pastures of relief. Sports fans, this is what happens when the league's best team is rendered helpless, when all its shiny devices and weathered hooks clank about aimlessly
Golden State toppled the best team in the league, one built to do absolutely everything right, by throwing everything out the window. It almost doesn't make sense to talk basketball theory in reference to their style, since it's operating on a level that a total novice gets as well as you or I. In fact, it's so simple and naive, it's almost revolutionary. Use athleticism, scoring, and bravura on both ends of the floor, like the way I've always said that Amare's blocks are an extension of his dunks. Basketball is now officially jazz: this is Ornette Coleman 1959 all over again, but with millions of dollars and headbands.
Anyone with an understanding of the recent Association knows that athleticism and hustle are generally at odds with each other. And that, speaking in cliches now, offense shacks up with the former, defense the latter. Of course this isn't true for individual stars, but across an entire roster it's exactly why modern roles have gotten so specialized. Nellie is able to play a bunch of crazed nether-ballers at the same time because he's convinced them to marry heaven and hell, to break down these walls that guide this day and age's basketball. It's hustle with a cocksure attitude, and brazen demonstration with the added credibility of hard work. The Mavs had no answer for the Warriors because this strategy goes against the very culture of the sport as currently constituted. Like the Spurs, the Mavs are reactive, set up to deal effectively with all known challenges. Those unknown unknowns, though, are the ones that'll get you.
The Suns were once sort of like this, and they were no match for the rationally-devised Spurs. If the Suns win a championship, it proves that Nash, Amare, Marion, Barbosa, Bell and the rest have just about everything on lock, and can get their uptempo on without a care in the world. What the far less stacked Warriors did, though, was like that '04-05 team: running all the time because they had no other choice, as if to mask their deficiencies. But that team lacked vision; they hid from their traditional weaknesses, rather than addressing them directly. Golden State, on the other hand, has found a way to turn the very question on its head. What the Warriors hath wrought isn't about personnel, it's about a state of mind.
If it seems like I'm going over the top here, it's because there's really no other option. The Warriors just pulled off the tallest upset in NBA postseason history, convincingly, by flummoxing a team designed to be perfect. For it to make any sense, there has to be a sea change happening here. There's no way to argue with this win. All that's left to quibble over is how many people will actually see it—and see the Warriors—for what it really is. This will never become a footnote, but it remains to be seen if anyone notices how far-reaching this accomplishment is.