Brian Windhorst’s post-game hit on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt the other night didn’t go over well with a lot of Golden State fans.
In the clip, Windhorst credits one key part of the Warriors organization for the Game 5 win over Boston: their finances. You can see the point he’s making; depth pieces like Andrew Wiggins are a luxury most other NBA teams go without.
His phrasing, though, riled up parts of the Golden State fanbase who took it more as an attempt to cheapen the Warriors victory and potential championship run.
“You don’t just have to beat the Warriors on the court, you have to beat their checkbook. Nothing away from Andrew Wiggins tonight but this was a checkbook win for the Warriors.”
Listen, that’s not the cleanest way to get the point across, but let’s take a moment to note that we don’t need to feel bad for Golden State fans. Like, at all. Especially ones who would get mad about the fact that someone might note their immense payroll is indeed an advantage; a win is a win.
Rather than blaming the aggregators, Windhorst spoke to Bay Area sports radio hosts Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky on 95.7 The Game, clarifying that he meant it as nothing more than praise of a franchise asset and approach.
“I was giving the Warriors a compliment for being able to stick with spending through their rebuild, and that’s why they have the depth on this team. Nobody would argue that Bob Myers and their front office haven’t done a tremendous job, and that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber haven’t done a great job in financing the team, but it is not a level playing field.”
“When you play the Warriors, you gotta deal with a fourth man who’s worth $40 million.”
That’s all true, really. The hosts zeroed in on the one aspect of Windhorst’s point that probably deserved the most examination: the idea that other teams, almost all of whom are owned by billionaires, couldn’t also spend to this level.
From that perspective, yes, it’s a fair point for Warriors fans to make. The NBA’s luxury tax exists in theory for parity in practice to provide cover for cheaper owners, with penalties that are affordable to owners but garish enough that most fans end up sympathetic when ownership doesn’t do it. That’s not to say the Warriors (and plenty of other big market teams) don’t have major built-in advantages, too, especially over less desirable markets for free agents.
But Windhorst’s clarified point remains correct: Golden State’s willingness to spend in ways other owners won’t is absolutely a plus. The point is winning, after all.