The Warriors just throttled the NBA’s preeminent star, LeBron James, taking him down in six games even as he compiled one of the most incredible stat lines in Finals history: 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. They did it by deploying one of the deepest and most versatile rosters in recent memory. Yes, Curry led the way by averaging 26 points in the series, but the Warriors won because someone new stepped into the spotlight each night—Iguodala in Game 4 (22 points), David Lee in Game 3 (11 points), Harrison Barnes in Game 4 (14 points), DraymondGreen in Game 5 (16 points) and then Iguodala again in the finale (25 points). All told, nine different Warriors scored in double digits at least once in the series, including Livingston and Ezeli with 10 points apiece in Game 6.
“We were a deep team, man,” Lacob enthused. “And when we got here, we beat the greatest player in the world. And I think we beat him soundly.” The Warriors are, as associate head coach Alvin Gentry put it, “The epitome of what synergy is.” They are, as well, the antidote to the modern superteam, to the notion that the only way to win is to stockpile as many marquee names as possible—whether by poaching, trading or tanking. The Warriors seized the title, their first in 40 years, without ever stripping the roster down to the studs, without cravenly plotting for the No. 1 pick, without ever pilfering another team’s disgruntled All-Star. This was a champion built, as Myers put it, “organically”—through a series of shrewd moves, and mostly through the draft.
The Cavaliers, a team built on three superstars—James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving—never was at full strength in this series, having lost the latter two stars to injuries. But injuries and misfortune color every NBA postseason, and none of that diminishes what the Warriors just accomplished. James was spectacular enough on his own to make this a six-game series, and no one would have been surprised had he alone somehow forced a Game 7. “If you watched our game tonight, you see how it takes a team,” Myers said. “It takes more than one person. And they had the best one person in the world. We needed a group of people to win this championship.”
Every NBA franchise is searching for a championship formula, a way to get a LeBron or a Kobe Bryant or a Shaquille O’Neal, a Kevin Durant, a Tim Duncan. Some will tear down their rosters and play the lottery odds. Some will hoard their cap room, waiting to pounce on the next disillusioned All-Star. But Lacob and Myers, and all of their assorted executives and scouts and video guys, have their own path: Draft smartly, spend prudently, build slowly. There is another way forward: the Warriors way.
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