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Swag Goeth Before The Fall?

I am (pretty much) back from my summer vacation, the one that had me driving across the country to visit relatives in Philadelphia, and included visits to major league ballparks along the way.

It was difficult to keep track of a lot of what was going on, though I did make sure to watch every one of the NBA Finals games and see the Warriors get their sweet sweet revenge on Cleveland. All that came across quite clearly to me, and it was–from a Dubs fan’s perspective–quite delightful.

What’s not been so clear has been the most recent of the newly re-crowned champs’ off-season moves. In fact, the latest news has left me a bit groggy, surprised, and not quite certain that I heard that right. As in:

“Wait…Nick Young? As in, Swaggy Goddamn P?”

If there’s any team in the NBA that should be getting the benefit of the doubt, it has to be the Golden State Warriors. One would be remiss if one were to forget that they have made the Finals three straight years, probably should have won it three times, and have cleverly set themselves up with at least two of the three best players in the league for the foreseeable future–and did all that without the torrent of drama that accompanies their nearest competitor, LeBron James. They seem to know what they’re doing.

But really, Nick Young? There are other guys out there on the landscape who can shoot 3-pointers–and most of them have never come near the Olympian heights of bonehead quotient that the Swagster has seemed to achieve these last several years. Given how important ‘culture’ has been to the Warriors during their successful run, doesn’t it seem like they made the classic horror movie blunder of bringing the cursed object/alien egg/evil thing on board the ship, in an act of hubris that can only ultimately lead to their doom?

Maybe, maybe not. I must admit that I was talked down off the ledge on this one after checking out some of the analysis, particularly those observers who pointed out that Young’s coach in L.A. last season, Luke Walton, remains very friendly with Steve Kerr and the rest of the Warriors. Apparently, they talk a lot, and it seems like a reasonable assumption that one of the reasons the Warriors chose to sign Young is because Walton gave him the thumbs-up endorsement. Not a problem on the court nor in the locker room, apparently, so bring him in.

Then again, Walton is coaching a division rival team. It would be in his best interests to recommend something that’s not in the Warriors’ best interests. Wouldn’t it?

Perhaps the chumminess of today’s NBA wins out. Barring other evidence, one should assume Walton is honorable and gave his former employers an accurate assessment of Young’s character. Fair enough.

And by the way, I don’t really care if other players–even Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry–campaigned for Young’s signing. Management is one thing; they have to make astute judgments on who’s a bonehead or not. The other players, in their enthusiasm for boneheads, often merely reveal themselves to be boneheads, too.

One can argue that, in bringing in JaVale McGee last season, the Warriors went to bonehead management graduate school, and they’re now prepped to take on all comers. But I’m not sure that assessment holds up. McGee definitely had some bonehead early in his career, but he had been largely well-behaved for several season before the Dubs pulled him in last fall. Plus he was always, undeniably, a truly gifted physical talent, and one who brought real, valuable abilities that the Warriors specifically needed.

Young, on the other hand, just seems to be a middling talent whose skill set can be replicated by any number of NBA journeymen. Plus, you know, he’s got a lot of bonehead in him.

I’m not saying this is the beginning of the end. If Young flakes on them, Golden State can either sit him down at the far end of the bench and leave him there, or just banish him outright, and still have more than enough going for them to make it through the Western Conference.

But I still see a note of caution here. In bringing Young into their otherwise very orderly fold, the Warriors may be biting off more than they can swallow without choking. They obviously believe it will work–but at this point it’s hard to tell if they’re being astute or arrogant. You can’t turn everyone into Andre Iguodala just by putting a blue and gold uniform on him. It’s possible the Dubs, in believing they can handle anyone, are guilty of the sin of pride; and it’s often pride–and maybe a little bit of swag–that goes before a fall.


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