CLEVELAND – The Warriors are two wins away from becoming the first ever undefeated playoff team, an accomplishment that could be added on top of their two titles and a 73-win regular season.
But are they the greatest team ever? Like all of these types of debates that span different eras, it’s entirely based on opinions and theories of hypothetical matchups. Magic Johnson, for instance, said his ‘Showtime’ Lakers of the 1980s would “probably sweep” the Warriors, citing a size advantage.
Told about that comment Tuesday, Warriors power forward Draymond Green let out a loud dismissive laugh.
“That’s my thoughts,” he said.
Still, Green wouldn’t declare his squad better than L.A.’s because he doesn’t engage in historical comparisons. (For entertainment purposes, here are the match ups: PG: Magic vs. Steph Curry; SG: Byron Scott vs. Klay Thompson; SF: James Worthy vs. Kevin Durant; PF: Kurt Rambis vs. Green; C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Zaza Pachulia).
“First off, the game is completely different than it was back then,” Green said. “Nowadays, if you can’t shoot a three, you’re a liability on the floor. That wasn’t the case back then. I never understand why people try to compare eras and say this team could’ve beaten this team, or could’ve beaten that team, or this player was better than that player. It doesn’t make sense to me because you’re kind of talking two different games, for real. So I never understand that, nor do I get into it. They were great in their time, we’re great in our time. And, you know, respect that.”
Klay Thompson used the theoretical matchup to poke fun at his father, Mychal, who actually played on the ‘Showtime’ Lakers.
“I’d pick my squad because I think we’d expose No. 43 on the Lakers,” Klay said.
Pat Riley, who coached the ‘Showtime’ Lakers and sat on the panel Monday with Magic, smiled at the “sweep” comment and added that the Warriors would be overmatched at center.
“Try to put somebody on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” Riley said.
More so than any team in recent memory, the Warriors have been dismissed by many off the old timers. The reasons are likely twofold: 1) Their accomplishments warrant the conversations, 2) They’ve drastically reinvented the game by turning the 3-pointer into the most efficient shot, thus turning the old timers protective.
Oscar Robertson, for instance, said Steph Curry is successful because he’s not being defended with the same intensity as himself in the 50s and 60s. Phil Jackson pounced on the Warriors when they fell into a 2-1 hole against the Grizzlies in 2015, infamously tweeting, “NBA analysts give me some diagnostics on how 3pt oriented teams are faring this playoffs…seriously, how’s it goink?” (The Warriors won the championship about a month later).
“I think if you have self-confidence, you don’t really care about what the people coming after you are doing. You want to see them do well,” Green said. “If I were to say, ‘We would’ve run (the historical teams) out of the gym,’ is that true? I don’t know. We’ll never know. But in the same sense, I don’t think they were as fast as we are. I sound stupid, right. I think I sound stupid because that’s how all of it be sounding to me.”
Before the Warriors can win any theoretical arguments for the best ever, they’re going to have to win two more games against the Cavaliers. If it happens to be the next two in Cleveland, they’ll have another record to back up the argument.
But Green said they’re not consumed with 16-0 like they were with the regular-season mark for wins last year.
“We made the mistake of circling 73 (wins) and worrying about the wrong thing before.”