By Matthew Ajaj
Through the initial weeks of the 2015-16 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, one indisputable fact prevails — Stephen Curry is a very good basketball player. Averaging over 30 points per game in the young season and earning comparisons to the great Michael Jordan — Curry continues to find ways to improve despite already having received the NBA’s most coveted individual commemoration, the MVP award, just months ago. His dazzling dribbles, pretty passes and unparalleled shooting abilities led his Golden State Warriors squad to a championship last season and an 11-0 start to the 2015-16 season. Curry’s presence alone cements the Warriors as a championship contender.
At least, that is what ESPN wants to tell you. Believe it or not, the “Golden State Steph Curries” are anything but a one-man squad. Like every other team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors dress 13 players each time they take the court — however, this baker’s dozen of basketball players blends better than any other.
The team’s philosophy, “Strength in Numbers,” speaks volumes. Shooting guard Klay Thompson might just be the second-best shooter in the NBA, small forward Harrison Barnes adds athleticism and versatility to the floor, power forward Draymond Green has developed into the definition of a five-tool player and even defensive stalwart center Andrew Bogut is an NBA All-Defensive Second Teamer.
The bench supplies nightly contributions from matchup nightmare Shaun Livingston and the perennially underrated Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala. Together, they make up the deepest, most complete squad in the NBA. And yet, their greatest asset is not their talent but rather a less palpable quality — selflessness.
In his first year as an NBA head coach, Steve Kerr pushed the team’s selflessness to its limit. Veteran All-Star David Lee was sent to the bench to insert Green into the starting lineup, and Iguodala took a seat in favor of Barnes. Lee and Iguodala put the team before their pride, and throughout the Warriors dominant 2014-15 regular season and gritty games down the stretch it was clear that Kerr made the right move. Putting the team before the individual truly set the tone for the Warriors’ success.
This altruistic attitude also finds its way into the frenetic Golden State offensive attack, which does not work without constant, fluid passing. The Warriors players disregard individual statistics as they seek out the best possible scoring option on every play. The fast-paced, persistent passing becomes possible due to the team’s unbreakable chemistry — the players are always on the same page and constantly aware of their teammates’ positioning. This powerful trust derives from the team’s progressive strides made off the court, where they constantly make an effort to hang out together. They especially relish the opportunity to meet up for meals while on road trips.
The Golden State Warriors perfectly exemplify what it means to be a team. Ego has no place on a squad of players that puts winning as its priority while also having fun together in the process. Considerable credit must be given to Warriors owner Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who completely reformed the culture of the team when they gained ownership in 2010. Much praise should also go toward general manager Bob Myers, who has a knack for acquiring talented, coachable players.
The Warriors are currently without head coach Kerr, who is recovering from back surgery. Nevertheless, next man up Luke Walton has coached the squad to a perfect record to start the season as the Warriors show no sign of slowing down. Look for the Warriors and headliner Steph “Chef” Curry to cook up another championship run as Golden State continues to cater the right ingredients for success.