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NBA Finals Game 5: The Existential Bummer of the Golden State Warriors

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If the Warriors win handily tonight, the foreseeable future of the NBA is, in some ways, depressing.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors

8:00 CST

ABC

Warriors lead 3-1

After Game 3, when Kevin Durant threw a dagger past LeBron James’s ear, through the bullseye and directly into the heart of Cleveland, I received a text from a friend of mine in response to the Warriors, then, 3-0 lead. The text read, “I’m actually really depressed about this.”

Certainly, diehard Cavs fans can echo this solemn sentiment, but my friend is not that. This friend is merely a Wolves-head and therefore should have been prepared as a sucker for basketball-related pain. But the “depressed” emotion he was describing felt existential and probably more meaningful than the sadness of a fourth quarter Wolves collapse.

My friend's melancholy text was born out of the idea that this Warriors dominance is going to make the NBA far less fun for the foreseeable future.

While greatness is fun to marvel at, and the Warriors greatness is truly great, there is something about their dominance that makes these next few years feel monotonous. If you are a day-to-day fan of the NBA—someone deeply invested in the game before and after the Finals end—the Warriors championship brings a certain level of boredom to your NBA consumption. If you weren’t already asking yourself why you spend so much time on Reddit or in the depths of NBA-Twitter, the Warriors cold-cocking the Cavs would really make you ask, “What’s the point?”

This is especially true for Wolves fans who feel like the last chunk of cheddar having given so much of themselves to the cheese grater of playoff-less basketball. For my friend (and maybe you), the idea of waiting is almost unfathomable. Assuming Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are locked up long term this summer—a safe assumption—the Warriors core would be in place through 2019 (Klay Thompson is signed through ‘19. Draymond Green is signed through ‘20) and Curry and Durant for even longer.

While the Wolves only won 31 games this year, somewhere buried amongst the frustration was a real feeling that Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine were on the precipice of something that resembled greatness. While that greatness may have been miles down the road, it was in sight. But then the playoffs happened. And now, in lieu of the Warriors dominance, that image has the feeling of possibly being a mirage. The idea that the Wolves can’t possibly compete until the 2020’s is a tough pill to swallow.

Swallowing that pill was elegantly depicted in my friends next text that hinted at the possibility of a seemingly endless Warriors dynasty.

“‘We just need these guys to get out of their primes’ has a way different feel when that means I will also be out of my prime.”

That encapsulates the existential bummer of the Warriors. By the time Golden State is again mortal, you, like my friend, will be older. Maybe way older. My friend, a single and 26-year-old Yuppie, is speaking of the idea that while basketball will prevail the way in which he consumes it will likely be different in the next decade of his life. Baked into that is an inherent sadness, a sadness that comes with the impermanence of time and age.

Whatever page of life you are on, the Warriors dominance will likely span to your life’s next chapter. We only get so much life, and if you’re like me, a ton of fun in your life comes from basketball. The idea of; scrolling over and highlighting the next four-to-five years of “basketball fun” then hitting the backspace button sucks.


That, that is why my friend needs the Cavs to win tonight. A Cleveland win brings the series to (at least) six games and makes the Golden State juggernaut seem mortal and impermanent just like we all, as people, are.

Dominance and greatness are fantastic in all realms of competition, but that comes with a caveat—greatness is most enjoyable when challenged. If Cleveland can challenge Goliath, then our collective belief in all other Davids grows. Minnesota, and the other 28 Davids in the NBA, need Golden State to be mortal. Golden State’s mortality confirms, to me, that the precipice the Wolves are on is, in fact, real and not a mirage. That’s why I, like my friend, am cheering for Cleveland in Game 5. Because, if Golden State wins by 40, what’s the point?