Think the Warriors are ruining the NBA? You're not paying attention

The Warriors — the darlings of professional sports not more than three years ago — have become villains.

Before, and especially after, they claimed their second-straight title and third championship in four years, the cries rang out:

"The Warriors are making the NBA boring."

"Competitive balance is dead."

"They ruined the game."

The complaints came from members of the media, players (past and current), and oodles of "fans." These were narratives, fueled by social media and jealousy, are so prevalent that Under Armour, the shoe company repped by Stephen Curry, ran a celebratory commercial after Friday night's title-clinching game that addressed the claims with a simple retort:

"If you don't like it. Do something about it."

Criticism of the Warriors is a byproduct of them being collectively brash on the court and politically outspoken off it — and winning too damn much. All these Warriors do is win, on their own terms.

But "ruining the game"? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, the Warriors cemented themselves as a dynasty with an all-too-easy sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but to say that they are bad for basketball and the NBA is ludicrous.

Since the beginning of their incredible four-year run — the winningest four-year run in NBA history — the Warriors have pushed the NBA to new heights by raising the bar of success for the league's other 29 teams.

Many — perhaps most — will fail to notice it, but the axiom is true: a rising tide raises all ships.

Right now, the Warriors, having won three of the last four championships and back-to-back titles after adding Hall of Fame scorer Kevin Durant in a shock move in the summer of 2016, seem to have an unfair advantage. But those who are complaining and ascribing a larger value to the Warriors' dominance are failing to see the big picture.

There is a larger value, but it's not negative: the Warriors are the best thing that ever happened to the NBA.

Through innovation, ingenuity, and — yes — luck, the Warriors have elevated the level of play and competition in the league. It might not have been evidenced in these last two NBA Finals, but you will notice it next year and beyond.

And that massive, "unfair" talent advantage the Warriors have been accused of having? The NBA is becoming fairer by the year.

As such, the upcoming offseason is massive for not only the rest of the league, but for the Warriors as well. Golden State can't afford to rest on its laurels — the competition around them stands to be too formidable in 2019 and beyond.

It should be noted, though, that the man tasked with putting together these Warriors — general manager Bob Myers — does not care if he is "ruining the league" by assembling a preponderance of talent in Oakland. After all, that's what he has been tasked to do by team owner Joe Lacob.

"It's not in my job description to please NBA fans. It's to win," Myers said evenly the day before Game 4 in Cleveland. "I don't need to be entertained. I just need to win. That's all it is. That's what I was hired to do. Everyone's entitled to how that looks to them or feels — I get to decide how it feels for me."

And how it feels for Myers isn't anything like how it feels for those crying that the Warriors are an unbeatable juggernaut. To Myers, it seems so precarious.

"Most of it is not stable," Myers said. "An NBA team, any organization can change overnight, it seems. Sometimes good luck, sometimes bad luck — it's a fast-moving league."

This summer will prove that point.

The Warriors will re-sign Durant to keep their core four players together. But the salary cap-strapped team will attempt to revamp its bench with younger, more dynamic players. It won't be easy, but:

"You have to stay as young as you can," Myers said.

At the same time, the rest of the league is going to be making moves, and the Warriors — even with the attempts to become better this offseason — are effectively sitting ducks. They can add role players and young projects, but they cannot add a marquee free agent without massively disrupting the core of a team that is still inside a championship-winning window.

There could be big waves made this offseason, too.

The Warriors have dethroned The King — LeBron James — with back-to-back NBA Finals wins against overmatched Cavaliers teams, and those wins may have tacitly convinced him to leave Ohio this summer, when he will be a free agent.

There's heavy speculation that he lands in Los Angeles, likely with the Lakers — a move that would single-handedly revive one of the NBA's strongest brands and put them in the NBA championship conversation.

Even if league officials were seriously concerned about the Warriors' dominance — and there's no indication they were — the possibility of a meaningful Warriors-Lakers rivalry, the chance those two teams could meet in the playoffs (maybe with a spot in the NBA Finals at stake), well, who could complain about that?

(And if James leaves Cleveland and goes to an established contender? Even better.)

At the same time, the Houston Rockets — whose iconoclastic general manager Daryl Morey has openly admitted that he's "obsessed" with beating the Warriors and is confused by any team in the league who isn't — pushed Golden State to seven games in the Western Conference Finals last month. They'll be hell-bent this summer on getting over that hump and are in a solid position to make that happen.

The San Antonio Spurs — viewed as the Warriors' top rival in the Western Conference in 2016 — will likely return their perennial MVP candidate, Kawhi Leonard next year. It's hard to see the Warriors beating them in five easy games in next year's playoffs, should they meet.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics — who gave the Warriors trouble the regular season and pushed the Cavs to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals — will likely get back two All-Stars?, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who between them missed 140 games last season. The upstart Philadelphia 76ers have cap space to add a free agent who can help their prodigious young talents make a leap next year.

No matter how you look at it, the competition is closing in on the Warriors. So if anyone thought the Warriors had it too easy this season (Golden State's players, coaches, and executives would vehemently disagree), there's no doubt 2018-19 will prove more difficult.

Eventually, another team will finish the job the Rockets could not last month — they will knock off these "unfair" Warriors. That day is inevitable, even if Myers, Warriors coach Steve Kerr, and the Golden State players are paid handsomely to avoid such a fate.

And when that day comes, I doubt anyone will complain about these Warriors "ruining the league."

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