Analyzing the circumstances that create outcomes can be extremely informative. To understand the result of the NBA Finals, backstory seems relevant. The 2017 champion Golden State Warriors (GSW) breezed through the playoffs with one loss and with double digit victories in 13 of 16 games.
GSW’s dominance was anchored by their core of elite players; most notably superstar Kevin Durant. Durant joined the Warrior after losing a 3-1 lead to them in the conference finals. The Warriors comeback victory against the Thunder and their eventual loss to the Cavaliers in the finals facilitated Durant’s signing. Without these events and the Warriors drafting their stars through the draft Durant would have gone elsewhere.
The move altered the dynamics of the league in a way rarely seen. Durant’s move eliminated the title hopes of the Thunder while propelling the elite Warriors another level. Without Durant, the Warriors were one game short of repeating as champions in 2015 & 2016 and being named title favorites this year. While Durant will remove himself from the unwanted list of superstars without a championship. Will the public conversation reflect his updated resume?
Durant will unfortunately find out things that are similar are not always equal. Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 post-season performance displays how certain championships mean more. As a three seed, Nowitzki lead an underdog Dallas team against newly formed “big three” in Miami. The unexpectedness of Dallas becoming champions made Nowitzki’s performance even more spectacular. The Warriors entered and moved through the season as the favorites to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy in June. If Durant’s career would end today it would include his stellar play, scoring prowess and an asterisked championship. Durant’s participation on GSW was not required for them to win a title. Instead, they will be remembered as an abundance of riches and the executive receiving a lucrative bonus.
The 2017 playoffs appeared to be absent of competition, the component which makes sports worth watching. Before Durant’s signing the finals match-up was predetermined for a Cavs v. Warriors round three. Who wins? Time will tell. Today, the both teams respectively ran through their conference competition with a collective record of 24-1. Following the first game of the finals the wind of excitement was replaced by the brash lighting of the Warriors which sealed their fate as title winners.
The Warriors dominance will continue as all their will almost certainly return next season. No team has ever touted four All-NBA Caliber players in a sport that is so influenced by the play off the few. The Warriors finest horses are greater than all other teams, including the one with the best player. The success of Durant’s move depends on ones vantage point. For him and from a basketball perspective he joined a better team and obtained a title. Durant’s greatest accomplishment may be remembered for being the best player on a team that didn’t need him.