The Golden State Warriors have been pretty much unanimously touted as the NBA’s most entertaining team so far this season. Last night’s epic 116-115 win over the
Seattle Sonics Oklahoma City Thunder confirmed this, but before I talk about the game, I’d like to tell a short story that sums up my own excitement with the Dubs and what is a rapidly expanding Dubs Nation.
I work as the managing editor at a magazine; it’s an in-flight magazine that strives to be a general interest publication, and every month we run a variety of culture pieces–stories on food & drink, the arts, fashion, tech, sports, etc. We’re currently planning the February issue, and our idea for the sports column was to find a writer from Brooklyn who was a longtime Knicks fan but now had to contend with having a team, the Nets, in his own borough. Our editor in chief reached out to Jonathan Lethem (because of course he just has Jonathan Lethem’s email address). For those who don’t know, Brooklyn is almost certainly home to more writers than any other town in the country, but there is certainly no other writer who is more synonymous with the borough than Lethem. He grew up here, and his most acclaimed books, Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude (one of my absolute favorite novels) are both set in Carroll Gardens/Gowanus/Boerum Hill–basically my stomping grounds.
It’s always a crapshoot when you email a famous author, but Lethem actually promptly responded to our email. He declined, saying that, aside from having too busy a schedule, he’s actually a Golden State Warriors fan. (I don’t think he’s a bandwagon jumper, by the way–he lived in Oakland for something like ten years.) My editor wrote back to say that his managing editor (me) is both a big fan of Lethem’s work and a Warriors fan. Lethem’s response: “Tell him it’s our year.”
* * *
Now, back to last night’s game. My team playing in the second half of a TNT doubleheader is rough on me–the games tip-off so late that at midnight the first half was just ending–but I sacrificed sleep to catch this one, which promised to be a matchup of two high-flying, exciting young teams. OKC came out on fire, with Kevin Durant and especially Russell Westbrook ripping the nets, and carried a modest lead for most of the first half. The Dubs offense also seemed a bit stagnant for much of the second quarter, as when Harrison Barnes came into the game, the team repeatedly forced the ball to him in the post and then quit moving and just watched him dribble into a turnaround jumper. Still, they rallied back behind the sweet shooting of Klay Thompson to tie the game at 62 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Dubs went on a run, as OKC seemed to forget how to play defense, letting Steph Curry drive for several easy layups. Barnes came back in, and the them went right back to feeding him the ball in the post, only this time he rewarded their faith–no one on OKC could guard him, not even Durant, and he hit a series of pull-up jumpers as Golden State’s lead ballooned all the way to 14, at 100-86, early in the fourth quarter.
Then, just as in Game One of the Spurs series last year, the Dubs proved not to know how to handle a big lead. OKC mounted a rally–because of course they did, because they have KEVIN DURANT and RUSSELL WESTBROOK. The Dubs responded by forcing the ball to David Lee in the post every time down the court, despite the fact that every time it resulted in a missed shot or a turnover. I still have my doubts about Mark Jackson as an in-game coach, and this game didn’t do much to aleve these worries.
The Thunder got the ball back down two points with less than ten seconds left. Then this happened.
Westbrook’s absurd 29-foot three pointer giving them their first lead since early in the third quarter, 115-114, with 2.9 seconds left. Westbrook and Durant celebrated. The Roaracle Arena went silent. Sitting in a bar on 9th Street in Brooklyn, I came to terms with the inevitable events that would happen: I would punch a wall on my way home, break my hand, and miss work on Friday to go to the Emergency Room.
The Dubs called timeout and advanced the ball to half court. Klay Thompson took the ball out. And this happened.
The Warriors celebrated. The Roaracle roared. I went fucking nuts, even though I was the only guy in the bar who cared about the game. Andre Iguodala had dragged his team out of the fire.
Iguodala’s night will be remembered for the shot, but it’s his total line that sums up how impactful an addition to this team he has been. Iggy scored 14 points (on just 6 shots) and dished out 9 assists with zero turnovers, all while spending most of the night shadowing Kevin Durant, the NBA’s best scorer and second-best player, holding him to 20 points on just 5-13 shooting. I think Iggy is one of those players that you don’t fully appreciate until he’s on your team. I knew from his Sixers and Nuggets days that he is an excellent defender and a ferocious dunker, but when you watch him day after day, you realize that while he may not be a superstar scorer, he is good at everything a player can do on the court. He’s miscast as a franchise cornerstone, but as a jack-of-all-trades who plays great D, runs the court like a deer, can handle the ball in the half court, and hit an open shot when needed, he is a PERFECT addition to this team, and the biggest reason why they have catapulted into the stratosphere of legitimate contenders this season.
You don’t want to make too much out of one game, especially one so early in the regular season. OKC was on the second half of a road back-to-back, and the Dubs are far from perfect. But I will say this: The season is only nine games old, but I don’t think I’ve ever liked a basketball team as much as I like this one. I’ve already written roughly 10,000 “I fucking love this team!!!” text messages. You know why?
Because I fucking love this team. Jump on the bandwagon, folks. Jonathan Lethem and I will happily welcome you to Dubs Nation.
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