Getting a large group of people to agree upon what's cool can be a difficult task. Cool, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and there are going to be certain things that I'm going to appreciate that many of you won't. So when I come out and say that this 2013-14 Golden State Warriors club is the coolest team in the NBA, many of you will laugh and disagree immediately.
If you disagree, feel free to leave now.
(Receives note from the SB Nation editors ...)
Oh. Hey guys, come on back. Please?
Being universally cool from a team basketball perspective is tough to find. How can a team even be cool? In my 25 years of watching basketball, there are only two NBA teams prior to this that I ever felt comfortable saying were genuinely cool. Before I tell you who they are, here are the characteristics that they both had in common:
- Young players
- Great personalities
- Elite talent
- Organically grown
- New/fresh fan base
- They were broken up too soon
Now, who are those two teams in question?
So young and vibrant. Eclectic personalities like Shaquille O'Neal and Russell Westbrook. Inexplicably refined talent like Kevin Durant and Anfernee Hardaway. Homegrown talent like Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, or James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Orlando? Oklahoma City? THOSE UNIFORMS! (The Orlando pinstripe black and the alternate Orlando blue are two of the greatest uniforms of all time, and although I've never been a fan of the blue OKC uniform, the white is pretty sweet.)
Those teams felt pure. Still unruffled by expectations. Still able to play the game with a raw and youthful spirit. As fans, we were learning about not just one player, but an entire team on the fly. That time spent learning about those teams became an investment, and when the Magic went up against the big, bad Chicago Bulls, people began to turn on Air Jordan and the Bulls. When the Thunder went up against the big, bad Los Angeles Lakers, people began to turn on Kobe and the Lake Show. Those at the top were afraid of those emerging from the bottom, and it would only be a matter of time before the coolest team of that era would overtake and become the new kings of the hardwood.
Yeah, about that last part. Didn't quite happen. (This is when people should ask the Orlando Magic brass, "why didn't you think Shaquille O'Neal was worth $100 million?" This is also the time we should ask Thunder GM Sam Presti why he felt so strongly about trading James Harden for a can of pork and beans, a pack of Black & Milds and Jeremy Lamb.)
Based on the blueprint I laid out above, the logical choice for "coolest team in the NBA" right now is the Golden State Warriors.
There's something about watching Stephen Curry play basketball that is infectious. We already fell in love with Curry when he was firing bombs from long range as the integral cog of the Davidson offense. However, our investment in Curry has been watching the flashes of greatness while he's being weighed down with countless ankle injuries. "If only he could stay healthy" was the cry from Curry aficionados. Then last year it all came together, when his incredibly consistent play as a lead point guard with an insane ability to score would also include these fissures of scoring excellence. Visiting Studio 54 was fun. The playoff scoring barrages versus Denver and San Antonio were jarring. Goodness gracious, it was fun to watch #30 play the game of basketball.
Then you remember they have Klay Thompson, the only person in the world who probably loves to shoot threes more than Curry. You've got Harrison Barnes, whose humbleness and politeness make you forget that he can be downright disrespectful at times. Just watch this.
You know what's great about that clip? More than just the absurd reverse cram from Harrison? Look at DRAYMOND! Look at BAZEMORE! Every single great play by the Warriors would result in an equally phenomenal outburst from Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore. They were always incredible. The #DRAYMOND hashtag during the NBA season is its own social media phenomenon. Bazemoring became an actual thing that is now in the NBA 2K14 video game.
Throw in the easy-going and pithy Andrew Bogut, the "I get buckets" approach from David Lee and the rabid fan base of the Bay Area behind this team, and you've got something that's hard not to love. Along with head coach Mark Jackson, the guy whose locker room doesn't curse at all, the guy who will make you believe that running through a wall is actually possible and a guy who will play basketball with the inmates in San Quentin ... that's pretty friggin' cool.
My only issue with naming this team the coolest team was that last year's team might've been cooler. Why? Because those Warriors didn't have any real expectations laid before them. They were shocking the world every chance they got, turning people into believers of the blue and gold.
Now, with a new acquisition of another star player (Andre Iguodala) and a few prognosticators predicting a possible NBA Finals appearance for Golden State, will the luster wear off on its cool? We'll find out. As for now, let's just enjoy that this team's beautiful brand of basketball can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone, cool? Cool.
A Happy Hour drink recommendation: The Brooklyn Cocktail - My buddy Paul is a cocktail connoisseur, and last night he went into this soliloquy about how every borough used to have its own signature drink. Evidently the only one that survived until the current day is the world-famous Manhattan. However, the Brooklyn features, per Serious Eats, "Amer Picon, a French version of Amaro, an apertif most commonly made in Italy." Amer Picon is apparently difficult to find here in the States, but if your bartender (I hate calling them mixologists, ugh) is worth a damn, he or she will be able to work around this issue. Oh, and Mark Jackson is from Brooklyn too. Pretty cool, right? So when you sip this delicious libation, just think in your mind, "Mama, there goes that man!" to yourself so that you'll have all the confidence in the world to whisper sweet nothings into a fine woman's ear. TGIF.