The Warriors have coined themselves the “Super Villains,” and in my opinion, have lived that up this year. When they nabbed Kevin Durant, essentially concocting a Fab Four of Evil, the target that already loomed on their backs, grew bigger.
I mean, think about it. The Warrior have the perfect cocktail for worldwide hatred. They’ve had a handy run. A title in 2015, 73-wins to break the all-time mark in 2016, and now this, year: 67-wins, and as said, a team primed of superior talent. Put it this way: There’s no excuse. A season without a championship is unacceptable.
There’s more in that cocktail. They have a seemingly “coming out of his shell,” Kevin Durant. A former quiet star. A man who suddenly talks trash and bags the media. A cocky, baby faced assassin in Steph Curry. And a brash, trash talking brute, in Draymond Green, a man who does anything to win, from barking in his opposition’s ear or kicking them in the sweet spot.
They ask for it. But you know what, they like it. I think this team thrives on the hate. They want to quiet a ruckus crowd, and walk off smirking with swag. It’s what they live for. This environment, though, has its difficulties. It can cause inner turmoil, and bloat egos to an un-coachable level. I feel for Steve Kerr, though, I think he’s equally part of this villain brigade, as he’s never shy to call a spade a spade.
Their biggest two stars (if such a thing is possible) are Steph Curry and “KD,” Kevin Durant. Both have been playing at a high level awhile now. That level brings with it a grocery list of haters. Tack on joining forces this year, and that list is now extensive.
Below are 20 people who have bones to pick with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. I’ll bounce between players to keep a steady rhythm.
20 Russell Westbrook (Both)
Let’s make something very clear: Westbrook competes harder and with more energy, than any player I’ve ever witnessed. EVER. If there’s something Westbrook has been good at it, it’s playing with that chip. This feeling like no matter how good he is, people pass on him; like he’s somehow still that kid on the blacktop waiting to be picked.
He can’t stand Steph, I think, because he believes, he’s the better point guard of the two, though not given the same fanfare or respect. Judging by his snickering at multiple postgame press conferences in last year’s Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, you could see how he feels about Steph. One reporter asked: “Is Steph a good defender?” And he just smiled.
But his bone to pick with Kevin Durant is even greater. KD is the guy who not only ditched on his franchise with his one time running mate, but did it for the team he nearly knocked off last year in the playoffs.
Up 3-1, the Thunder fell apart, losing the series in seven games. Durant was blamed for much of it, with poor statistical fourth quarters. So, what does he do? He goes to the dark side, something Westbrook isn’t wired for. And judging by their ongoing interviews and tidbits on social media, they both don’t necessarily like each other. At all.
19 Kyrie Irving (Steph Curry)
Irving played like an animal in last year’s Finals. The Cavs came back from 3-1 down against the Warriors, winning Cleveland’s first professional title in over 50 years. He doesn’t say much. He just shows how he feels on the court. He lets his beauty of a step back, 15-foot bank shot or fall away three, speak for themselves.
If we’re honest with ourselves, Irving far outplayed Curry. You could catch hints of Irving’s bone to pick, during the game or in post-game interviews. During the game, he’d hit a tough shot and give Curry that glare. A look like, “you’re overrated.” In post-game interviews, he’d essentially do what Westbrook did, but with a little less of an outward display. When asked about Curry he’d full on dodge the question, and pass praise to his teammate, LeBron James, commenting on his incomparable dominance as a player. Something you don’t do to the reigning MVP, unless you harbor some things.
18 Serge Ibaka (Kevin Durant)
Ibaka was essentially the scapegoat after KD left. To be fair to Thunder management and the fans though, Ibaka never really lived up to his contract, the contract that essentially made it impossible to resign James Harden.
But when KD split, the focus narrowed on Ibaka’s inadequacies as a legitimate franchise building block. The result was being traded to the Magic, where he’d then get flipped again at the All-Star break, to Toronto.
He’s fallen from blossoming star to journeyman role player. And that’s really got to hurt. I’d be very surprised, if he doesn’t have a bit of a beef with KD’s cowardice. It basically ruined the perception about him and he's still trying to recover from it. Things would be a lot different if KD stayed put.
17 Monta Ellis (Steph Curry)
Before Steph, there was Monta Ellis: A lightning quick guard, who scored in bunches for the Warriors. Not always accurate, nor efficient, Ellis still found ways to score buckets. From 2009 to 2011, he averaged 24.8 points per game.
That’s right when Steph arrived. Things weren’t going well for the Warriors, who’d experienced some success in the mid-2000s. Monta wanted a hefty contract the Summer of 2012. The Warriors weren’t willing, so they traded him to Milwaukee at the All-Star break.
Right time, right place. That opened a door for Steph, who early in his career, had clearly taken a second role on offense, because of Monta’s brash behavior. The two clashed off the court and the rest is history.
Monta would never find another address that’d allow him the role as Franchise Face. And knowing his personality, he has issues with that.
16 Billy Donovan (Kevin Durant)
Coach Billy Donovan took over for Scott Brooks, a coach who’d led the Thunder to an NBA Finals in 2012. Donovan had great success as a rookie coach, leading the team to a 55-27 record the 2015-16 season, and all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they’d eventually fall to the Warriors.
Donovan is considered one of the greatest coaches in collegiate basketball history. His Florida teams went to four Final 4’s, 3 title appearances, and won 2 of those titles, back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. He has a tremendous legacy to uphold.
It looked and felt like his transition to the pros was going to be much of what we’d already seen from Donovan: success, consistency, an ability to coach in big games with a calm resolve. Not so, as KD did the dirty by signing with the Warriors last summer. His choice altered numerous career trajectories, including Donovan’s, who’s now coaching a team facing an uphill battle.
15 Charles Barkley (Both)
The hall of fame forward turned TNT analyst, has been clear about his issues with this Warriors team. He thinks they’re too soft, lack the necessary strength inside, and turn the ball over too much to win multiple titles.
This has stirred the pot quite a bit, as the man he’s commonly gone after, is Steph Curry, a player he believes is overhyped by a media with an incessant need to glorify someone.
Barkley never won a championship. But one thing he was, was tough. Hardnosed. Willing to lay you out if you got in his face. His issue with Curry have always been his size, his average defense, lack of strength, careless style of play, and one-dimensionality. Barkley isn’t wowed by the three-pointers. He wants well rounded basketball, something lacking in today’s NBA, specifically since the Warriors took it over with hoist after hoist after hoist.
Barkley has a bone to pick with the league’s new face. But he also has a bone to pick with Durant, a guy he clearly is not happy with. When Durant took the plunge and signed with the Warriors, Barkley made his frustrations very clear.
14 James Harden (Kevin Durant)
Harden seemingly has no investment in KD’s career plans. He’s a star in his own right, an MVP candidate, and arguably KD’s equal. But I did find it interesting this year, when Harden, numerous times over Twitter, sided with Westbrook.
“West,” he calls him, as the two of have remained close since Harden was traded to the Rockets. In fact, there was a tweet, where Harden said he wanted to see “West do his thing tonight.” The tweet was directly relating to the first-time Westbrook battled Durant as his foe.
I imagine, Harden still looks back at his time with the Thunder, with fondness. Knowing the affects KD’s split from OKC caused “West” and the organization doesn’t sit well. Not to mention, the team felt the need to deal Harden because of cap issues – issues arrived over Durant’s lucrative first contract.
If Durant was going to peace out a few years later, it wouldn’t make sense to part with Harden. Harden still in OKC, with Westbrook, would be something to truly behold.
13 Michael Jordan (Steph Curry)
Jordan doesn’t care. As the basketball GOAT he can do and say about anything. Last year the Warriors broke the win mark his 1995-96 Bulls team set. And that clearly didn’t appeal to Mike, who was rumored to have had a conversation at an owners meeting with Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, about the mark not meaning much.
The conversation went something like this:
Joe Lacob: Hey Mike. You hear about our season?
MJ: I did.
Joe Lacob: And…? (arms folded)
MJ: Aaaaand what? 73 wins don’t mean a thing if you don’t win a ring.
Joe Lacob: (Pouty lip)
When Steph Curry broke out a few years back, Mike was asked to list his favorite players from this current crop. He listed Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitski. The interviewer pressed, and asked for essentially a younger guy, and Mike, said: Kyrie Irving.
He completely dismissed the Warriors season last year, essentially dismissing Steph’s.
12 Clay Bennett (Kevin Durant)
Clay Bennett is majority owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s widely respected in-and-through Oklahoma, and across the league, as a fair owner with a heart of integrity. When you have a heart like that, you expect the same from others. Unfortunately, Durant didn’t give him that.
All last year, KD bobbed-and-weaved questions about his near future. His ability to bob-and-weave, mixed with his long tenure, caused Thunder fans and the team’s ownership, to hold onto hope. But can you blame them? They’d uplifted KD to his megastar status. They supported him.
And then KD ripped their hearts out last Summer. Clay Bennett isn’t down with that type of character. Perhaps though it was Bennett getting a taste of his own medicine, as he did something similar to the city of Seattle before taking their Sonics away.
11 Oklahoma City Thunder fans (Both)
OKC fans are known for being incredibly ruckus. They are like a Sixth man for a Thunder team that thrives on the synergy.
Here’s how a fan thinks of things: it’s a give-and-take relationship. There’s no joy in the sport without stars, and no celebrity for stars, without the fans. This relationship is called upon to be honored by both parties; the fan sticking by the star through thick-and-thin, while the star vows to stay, in order to win a ring.
Well…Durant broke that promise last summer, and the fans are left shell shocked and angry. As seen by the jersey burnings, this resentment is real.
As for Curry: Despite his poor play in last year’s Western Conference Finals, he’s haunted the Thunder. Remember that three he hit last year from nearly half court, to give the Warriors a lead with less than a second to play? His cocky shoulder shake? Curry’s deflated that fanbase more than anyone, not named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. They can’t stand him, nor the fact that he recruited their franchise guy.
10 Colin Cowherd (Steph Curry)
It was Cowherd, a witty sports critic, who said Steph Curry was in no way the MVP last year. And what happened? He wins his 2nd in a row, unanimously. This had to fire up Cowherd, a cutting man with a personality the size of Texas.
This April, Cowherd continued his angle on Curry. In an interview with Chris Broussard, Cowherd made these major points:
-We’ve put Curry in legendary status too soon.
-He’s not a top 3 or 4 Point Guard
-His numbers across the board are down.
-Numerous months his famous three-point shot was shaky.
-Bad 2016 Finals
-Bad 2016 Western Conference Finals
Why does he get a pass?
Cowherd will have a field day with Curry if the Warriors fail to win the championship this year.
9 Damian Lillard (Kevin Durant)
Damian Lillard, Franchise Face, and point guard for the Blazers, is good, real good. He has always been explosive around the rim, but this year developed a three- point depth like Steph’s.
In 2015, Lillard – snubbed for an All-Star nod – one of the worst snubs in recent years, made some noise about losing it to Kevin Durant, who’d played only 22 games for a sub .500 Thunder team.
He said, “I feel really disrespected. I’m definitely going to take it personal.” Durant returned with a bit of a jab back, offering his spot to anyone who can beat in a game of one-on-one. Lillard must also feel some resentment for essentially carrying his team in Portland, while Durant took the easy way out by signing in Golden State.
8 76ers Organization (Steph Curry)
It dawned on me while writing this, that Curry’s record setting season last year, and his team’s continued flirtation with 70 wins, has put an even greater microscope over the 76ers horrendous worst-record status.
The struggle is real. Where one team is the great extreme, another balances things, by being so damn bad. The 76ers are stacked with tons of young talent. Unfortunately, that young talent has yet to gel and make something of themselves.
Curry’s Warriors have a ripple effect, drawing attention to the plights of others, and he is their all too cocky king. The Sixers constantly tell their fans to trust the process, but at a certain point, fans are bound to get restless, especially when they see Steph and the Warriors having amazing success.
7 Tony Allen (Kevin Durant)
Durant has this air of being a humble leader. Quiet. Consistent. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen a passive aggressive star, with a calculative and cutting, mean-streak.
Durant was bothered and shut down, by All-NBA defender, Tony Allen in the 2014 playoffs. He admitted that the guard with glue-like hands caused him difficulty in seeing the hoop clearly. And yet, in numerous post-game interviews, referenced Allen’s D, as just “okay.” This clearly bothered Allen, as the only player he’s admitted to never “figuring out,” is James Harden.
Tony Allen must feel somewhat vindicated that Durant couldn't win a title by carrying his team and had to join a contender like the Warriors to get it done. Can you imagine his reaction if the Warriors don't win it all this year?
6 Donald Trump (Steph Curry)
Whether you love him or hate him, Trump has never backed down from saying something. Sometimes, too much. Way too much.
During the presidential run between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Steph and his wife Ayesha, came out on Twitter and in the media, voicing their support of Hillary Clinton.
The reason? It ties directly to last year’s Colin Kaepernick situation, one that saw the 49ers QB sit during the national anthem in protest toward police brutality, and in support of Black Lives Matter.
Curry always backed Kaepernick, stating the act was “needed.” And during that time Trump had clearly taken his stand against the organization Kaepernick supported. It'll definitely be awkward if the Warriors win the championship and have to make a visit to the White House.
5 Chris Paul (Kevin Durant)
The famous friendship, shared between CP3, LeBron, Melo and Dwyane Wade, is one for the ages. They’ve all stuck together through thick-and-thin.
KD has always referenced those four as his “big brothers”, admiring their commitment to longevity, and bettering their place both as players and as business men.
You never would have guessed it, judging by Durant’s reaction in a 2014 playoff game against Paul’s Clippers, a game in the 2nd round, that saw the Thunder blow out the Clippers 131-108. During that affair, Paul whipped a spin move around a Thunder bench player and hit a fade away. He talked a bit of trash on the way down the court. Durant responded by continually repeating “you’re down 20.”
Paul surely isn’t inviting him to any of his bashes.
4 Gregg Popovich (Steph Curry)
Pop is quiet and calculative. His run with the Spurs the last 20 years, is bar none the greatest run I’ve ever seen. And yet, his system, is chronically diminished by those who call it boring and predictable.
It has got to get under his skin, that the Warriors – a rather new phenomenon of run n’ gun – are granted the notion of legendary status, all because they hit a bunch of threes. The result is less of a scope on the Spurs, which Pop loves, but not to the detriment of his star player, Kawhi Leonard.
Steph gets it for hoisting up and gunning. Leonard gets overlooked for playing defense, passing, scoring in a gamut of ways, but doing it with little trash talk or fancy lights.
3 Steven Adams (Kevin Durant)
The pick the Thunder got in the Harden deal to Houston, ended up being Steven Adams, a burly rough-and-tumble big man. But before he was that burly big man with an ability to block shots and go mono y mono with the likes of brutes like Draymond Green, he was baby- faced and relatively unknown.
On Draft Night, Durant tweeted: “SMH,” and then a less than inviting: “Welcome Steven Adams.” It didn’t help that James Harden tweeted, “Steven Adams loooooool,” in return. Both were jerk moves had to create a beef Adams had and has with Durant. There really was no need to go there, especially on a public platform like social media. Just be diplomatic about the move and move on. Why be a jerk to a new teammate?
2 Kobe Bryant (Steph Curry)
Kobe had an incredible twenty-year career. The “Mamba,” won an MVP, went to numerous All-Star games and won five rings. He’s considered one of the better guards in league history. And yet his final year, 2015-16, the farewell, Kobe’s going out party, was ruined by Steph’s tremendous year and the Warriors record breaking win mark.
One thing for sure, is the Mamba took it personal. He was always an ultimate competitor and relished in the spotlight. Losing to the Warriors popularity, is a no-no.
There’s also a story that goes like this: rookie Steph Curry walked up to Kobe at the free throw line to tried and talk trash. After Kobe hit the free throw, he cruised back and didn’t say a word. That night he dropped 40 on the youngster in three quarters!
Kobe got the last laugh.
1 LeBron James (Both)
LeBron will always remember the infamous tweet KD sent out, regarding LeBron’s move to Miami. He said: “Now everybody wanna play for the heat and Lakers?” a classic passive aggressive move. LeBron doesn’t forget. Now that KD has joined a super team with the Warriors, his hypocrisy hard to swallow.
LeBron clearly couldn’t stand the attention Steph Curry got. He won back–to–back MVPs, including a unanimous selection last year. LeBron expressed his concern over that. A sure swipe at Curry and his over-confidence.
If was evident just how much this bothered him. He performed in last year’s Finals, at a level I’ve never seen any player perform. At numerous times, he was jawing at Steph and asserting his dominance. You just get the feeling LeBron wants to do it all over again this year.