- It's clear Steph Curry and the Warriors are done playing nice off the floor. After seizing revenge after a year of 3-1 jokes, the Dubs are carrying themselves like they know no one can touch them.
A forgotten subplot of the so-far explosive 2017 NBA off-season is how the Warriors would respond to a year of 3–1 jokes. In case you (somehow) need a refresher, the 73-win Warriors blew a 3–1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, leading to a year of constant Internet barbs that never really stopped until the Dubs beat the Cavs in the 2017 Finals, ironically closing out Cleveland after holding a 3–1 lead.
Amid all the drama around the rest of the league, the Warriors haven’t made many waves this summer. That changed a little bit this week, when video leaked of Stephen Curry mocking LeBron James at Harrison Barnes’s wedding while Kyrie Irving egged him on. (Yes, you read that right.) Steph claims he wasn’t actually mocking LeBron by exaggeratedly recreating a post-Finals workout video James posted to Instagram. I almost believe Steph, but the truth is more likely this: The Warriors are petty as hell, and they are regaining their confidence this off-season.
Curry’s rivalry with LeBron is legit. Last week, Curry jokingly-but-also-seriously forced someone at one of his basketball camps to switch out of their LeBron shoes into some decidedly less swaggy Currys instead. A similar move would have been groan-inducing last summer, but this year, Steph can afford to engage because he has the bulletproof championship blanket on his back.
Though Steph tried to cover his ass a little bit, other Warriors have been more blunt since winning the title. Kevin Durant, who wants you to know that he REALLY hoops, offered this succinct quote when he was asked about Irving’s trade request from the Cavaliers: “I don’t really care about the Kyrie Irving situation.” Durant seems to care more about battling Twitter trolls than what his No. 1 rival does with their second-best player.
Elsewhere, Draymond Green offered some slight payback to LeBron by wearing a “Quickie” shirt to the Warriors’ championship parade, a shirt Green himself said was a direct response to James’s “Ultimate Warrior” shirt from a year ago. In a not-quite related move, Green then showed up to the NBA awards wearing black shorts with his turquoise suit, a fashion swerve you can only pull off if you didn’t cost your team the Finals by hitting someone in the groin.
And let’s not forget about Klay Thompson. Klay hasn’t exactly muddled himself in the Dubs-Cavs rivalry. But he did channel the spirit of Wes Welker at the Kentucky Derby during his trip to China, embarrassing himself while trying to dunk and also embarrassing himself while trying to dance. Again, bathing in the championship glow, Thompson felt free to let loose. (I just hope Klay stayed hydrated. Let’s just say I heard China gets hot in the summer.)
What does all of this mean, really? It means the Warriors aren’t scared in the slightest by what the rest of the league has done this summer. The Warriors have their feet up on the table and cigars in their mouths while the rest of the NBA tries to figure out how to slow them down. Joe Lacob can continue to inappropriately touch the Larry O’Brien trophy while every other team yearns for an opportunity to do the same.
Golden State has an interesting stranglehold on the NBA right now. It’s not only their dominance on the court, but the Dubs have seemingly sent a psychological chill throughout the league. Some teams seem happy to sit back and wait until the dynasty is over. Others are being forced to make risky trades to keep pace. And LeBron now has to seriously consider leaving Cleveland if he wants to win another title. All while Klay Thompson can unleash some horrendous moves while listening to EDM by himself at a club in China.
The Warriors are carrying themselves with the confidence of a team that knows they are the runaway favorites. They are carrying themselves with the attitude that no team has made any moves to put them in the same stratosphere as the one they've reached. And they are carrying themselves with a cockiness that comes from knowing every single transaction made by contending teams is made with Golden State in mind.
The Warriors have no need to be humble. (And humility in sports is overrated anyway.) They’ve quietly gotten better this summer, and there’s no end in sight as to how long they will be the overwhelming title favorites.
So how have the Dubs responded to a year of 3–1 talk? They seem to have breezed right past all the jokes, memes, and incessant references. It’s easy not to care when you’re that much better than everyone else—and acutely aware of how far the rest of the league has to go to catch up.