Next season, whether it makes sense or not, the Golden State Warriors will be the villains of the NBA. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant will be the main recipients of jeers, boo and whatever version of hate NBA fans can come up with. The 2015 champions and 2016 finalists seem to be ready for it.
Take Green for example. He wasn’t the most popular player in the NBA even before last season’s playoffs, but his antics and behavior took him to a new level of notoriety among a lot of more casual fans who don’t follow every team and every player. Acting like a d*** and losing? That’s even worse in the eyes of many, which is why the Warriors will be interesting to watch this season on another layer: How they handle the hate in every arena.
Draymond Green on the Warriors villain role: “Boo. Then eventually you’ll shut up. And I’ll laugh.” pic.twitter.com/iTh8wGM74j
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 28, 2016
It’s not exactly new that teams were looking for a win against the Warriors especially. It comes with being the best team in the league. But remember LeBron James on his first season with the Heat? That might be what the Warriors experience across a number of NBA arenas. Kevin Durant will be in for quite a treat when he and the Warriors visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 11 and March 20 in 2017. But there are a number of places that will be giving them a hard time.
In an interview James gave during the 2011-2012 season, his second with the Heat and when he won his first NBA championship, he talked about embracing the villain role and losing in the 2011 NBA finals. He said that while it helped motivate him, he didn’t like being in that position. James isn’t Green, but it’ll be interesting to see how Durant, and also Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson handle a very different approach towards them. Obviously, the Warriors are now one of those teams that has a lot of fans on road arenas. Bandwagon works both ways.
Curry has supposedly been working hard all summer to add to his game. Others, like Green, Durant and Thompson played basketball in the Olympics. Being the ‘bad guys’ often brings teams closer together and acts as a motivational source, not that the Warriors need any motivation after losing in the finals last season. But there is a mental toll that has to be taken into account, and with the Warriors also paying closer attention to giving players a rest this season compared to chasing the record last year, going through the gauntlet of crowd hatred could be more challenging than some of these players think it’ll be.