Stay the course

I have a bone to pick with current NBA fandom. They think that only championships count. I disagree.

What is so bad about having a good team that makes the playoffs each year? Take the Mavs, for example. As long as they are pretty good, and have Dirk, they will have TV appeal. The counter example is the recent Lakers. Even with Kobe, I could barely stand to watch.

Kevin Arnovitz made the argument in a recent article:

Is there anything wrong with being very good for a very long time, even if it means only an outside shot for a title in any given season? That’s more or less how the Mavericks won the title in 2011 — a decade of very good basketball gave them enough chances to get lucky.

Or to put it another way, is there any hope a team like this can beat a team like that? Is it time to start over?

Privately, Grizzlies officials believe that the league’s obsession with contention “windows” and the title-or-tank mindset is off the mark.

With no Conley and no Gasol this spring, the Grizzlies will take a mulligan this spring, but the formula in Memphis will remain the same until further notice: 50 wins and a puncher’s chance.

A “punchers chance” is a great way to put it. If, as Doc Rivers suggests, the Warriors got lucky last year because their postseason opponents suffered a rash of injuries, couldn’t any team get lucky?

Look at what just happened in this year’s playoffs – The Warriors lost Steph Curry for 2 weeks, and the Clippers lost Blake Griffin and Chris Paul for the season. The Blazers could very well find themselves in the WCF!

And now we are hearing calls to “break up” the Clippers. There is some logic in making Griffin available. But on the other hand, what if the Clippers just stay the course? They are a very good team. Not Warriors/Spurs good. But very good. They have another 3 years of title contention left. Also, Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for that team. You think he wants to rebuild? And is that even possible with Doc on a long and pricey contract?

What the Spurs have shown, I think, is that continuity is good. There is an astonishingly small amount of practice time in the NBA. Having the same coaches teach the same system to the same guys over multiple years is a powerful advantage.

Obviously, the Warriors are on a whole new level of awesome these days. But before that, honestly, we just wanted the We Believe Warriors to stay together longer. We lionized the Run TMC Warriors, who never contended for championships. We fell in love with tenured players like Adonal Foyle and Monta Ellis. They weren’t great, actually, but they were ours. It was comforting to see them out there year after year.

Plus, re-builds are risky. You don’t really know how long it will take to return to form, let alone exceed.

Basketball has so much to offer fans. If you are only in it for championships, you are missing out.