By Will Baldwin
It is with great sadness I must write this obituary of the National Basketball Association. Born June 6th, 1946, the NBA, as it was known, was the best professional basketball league in the world. Based in North America, the NBA brought fans across the globe to arenas, radios and televisions for 72 years, showcasing some of the best athletes in the entire world. Unfortunately, on July 2nd, 2018, the NBA was murdered by the decision of free agent centre DeMarcus Cousins when he chose to join the two time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors…..
Let me get this straight, I am supposed to believe the NBA was killed by the decision of ONE player who is a big man coming off a torn achilles with serious character concerns? My goodness do we have a lot to talk about.
Disclaimer: I am a gigantic DeMarcus Cousins fan and, not only wish him the best but also, will be writing an article shortly on him and why the Warriors were the best fit for him. However, I am about to crush Boogie’s personality and injury concerns and though I 100% believe this to be true (on some level), Cousins is still absolutely one of my favourite players and I wish him nothing but the best.
Lets start with the ‘fact’ everyone is talking about how it is unfair the Warriors are adding a fifth all-star.
First of all, it is not the Warriors or their fans fault that Cousin’s called them and asked if they would take him, it is the fault of every other organization that did not give him a fair offer or chance. Stop hating on organizations and players because they are smarter and make better decisions.
Second, DeMarcus Cousins in the 2018-19 season is not going to be the same player he was from 2010-2018. The reality is he is coming off the most serious injury in professional basketball possible. This injury takes over a year to recover from, meaning Cousins will not enter the Warriors lineup until February at the earliest, giving them very little time to build chemistry on the floor. But, not only will chemistry be an issue, Cousins overall skill will likely be as well. No player has ever come off an achilles injury and gotten better, and very, very few have been at the same level. So in other words, it is incredibly unlikely the Warriors get a player similar to the level we remember when we watched Cousins since he entered the NBA or to put it more clearly, a fifth all-star.
So, if Cousins is not on the level of his previous all-star self, it will be up to him to accept a lesser role that more fits his current skill level. For those who do not know, this is not NBA2k which means, personalities really matter in the context of minutes, touches and overall usage. Therefore, a guy in Cousins, who lets just say has been inconsistent (this is the nicest possible way to describe Boogie!) with his actions both in a locker room and on the floor will have to accept a lesser role. Now, I am not going to make the decision for you but, to say this proposition and experiment is uncertain would be wildly generous.
The reality is that the Warriors are making a bet based on their phone calls with Cousins that he is willing to accept a lesser role with them and, that he will not be an issue in their locker room. If, for example, he is a serious issue, that could pose a serious threat to the Warriors championship aspirations, something many would lead you to believe is already a done deal.
The fact is that Cousins has never been a winning player in the NBA. He has yet to prove unequivocally that he can win in this league. What many are refusing to ignore is that, this is a large reason many teams stayed away from Cousins. Many around the league believe not only that Cousins is not a winning player but even further, his presence alone makes teams worse.
Whether or not I believe this to be true is not the point. The point rather, is that there are a lot of moving parts in this scenario that could go really wrong and, make a lot of people look really dumb.
Even if Cousins hits perfectly for the Warriors, and averages lets just say around 16-18 points and 8-9 rebounds, fits seamlessly into their offence and, competes on defence for the first time in his career, are you not the least bit interested to see if someone can take down the juggernaut that would be those Warriors? You would not be fascinated to see if LeBron’s Lakers could give them a series or, what about the Rockets who were a CP3 injury from beating them last year or did we already forget that the Warriors pre-Boogie were beatable?
Are we all forgetting how poor the Warriors bench was in the playoffs last year? Andre Iguodala gets hurt and all of a sudden, the Warriors bench looked like a bunch of guys who had no idea how to play basketball by themselves. It was so bad that it almost cost them their playoff lives against the Rockets. So, even if the addition does improve the Warriors, they are still after all beatable, even with an upgrade to their depth.
Do not believe me?
Why exactly can the Celtics not beat the Warriors this season?
Are you really going to try and tell me that a lineup featuring Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and a very deep bench would not give these Warriors at least a series? In fact, I will tell you right now, as presently constructed, if health on both sides is guaranteed, I would pick the Celtics to win the series.
For starters, they would almost for sure have home court based on the much easier regular season they will play in the eastern conference. However, the reason more so than anything I would pick the Celtics is I trust them significantly more in close games. The Celtics last playoffs won multiple games with a severe deficit in talent strictly off execution. The Warriors on the other hand, either lost or almost lost multiple games in the playoffs off horrific late game execution.
Even if you disagree with me and think the Warriors would role the Celtics, do I need to remind you that last year, the Celtics split with the Warriors and the game they lost, was an overtime thriller in Oracle Arena.
So before you tell me that the Warriors are way better with DeMarcus Cousins, are we not allowing the extremely high probability that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will get better this summer? What about the fact that Kyrie is a bonafide superstar who already hit a game seven winning shot against Golden State and, will have Gordan Hayward, a western conference all-star in 2016-17, by his side along with arguably the best coach in the NBA?
Lets pause for a second and I will even humour the possibility the Warriors are too good for the NBA and it is not fair.
For starters, there is no tangible evidence to suggest that dynasties are bad for sports leagues. In fact, the reality is the complete opposite. The NBA still has yet to match the television ratings of Jordan’s Bulls fifth and sixth championships against the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998. In the NFL, the highest rated Super Bowl of all time was in 2015, when the defending champions Seattle, took on the NFL’s resident DYNASTY, New England.
The reason dynasties are so great for sports leagues is because of their widespread polarization. Essentially, the idea that they bring out the emotion of either love or hate when you think about them, either way, you are going to tune in to watch.
Not to mention, the creation of superstars. The reason the NBA fell into such a dark period of time following Michael Jordan’s retirement was because, the league had become his league. Every fan when thinking of the NBA, thought of him and so when he left, it took away what the mainstream fan new about the league. These types of fears are being brought back to life right now with LeBron James. Many worry that the league is beholden to LeBron to generate an audience but, if a dynasty like the Warriors can step in and take the league over, basing it around their superstars or, the ones they play against (say in Boston perhaps?) it could be the best possible thing for the NBA.
So, stop trying to tell me the Warriors ruined the NBA because not only are you wrong, the team you are apparently so willing to bet your life savings on to win the 2018-19 championship may not be the sure thing the rest of the NBA media wants you to believe it is.