People join bandwagons because they convey the subjective feeling of winning. The Warriors are the perfect bandwagon team for the post-internet era. Their bandwagon is light-years ahead of everyone else’s bandwagon. It’s a self-steering electric intelliWagen that gets 1,000 miles to a charge, has built-in Wi-Fi, and speaks with a decisive, yet nonthreatening, voice. Elon Musk is furious that he didn’t think of it.
When you sink into the soft, ergonomically perfect, handcrafted leather seats of the Dubs’ bandwagon, and watch the razor-crisp LCD nav-screens snap to life like you’re on the deck of a spaceship, the vicarious thrill of dominating an opponent is amplified by the seductive, scalp-tingling high that comes from knowing you’re smarter than him, too.
Rooting for the Warriors is buying Microsoft shares in 1990; it’s being in the room at Bletchley Park when Turing broke Enigma; it’s getting to name-drop Steph Curry (the most relatable superstar who grew up the rich son of an NBA player ever) and be on a first-name basis with the most famous sports toddler in the game. To roll in the Dubs’ wagon is to feel that you’re not just rooting for a great team, you’re making the game of basketball better.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals was just the kind of smooth ride that reinforces those feelings of superiority. Early in the first quarter, Curry caught Tristan Thompson on a switch, jab-stepped in a languid way that scream-whispers “I know this entire team is terrified of me,” and turned Thompson’s leg into a roll of napkins.
Steph’s counterpart, Kyrie Irving, scored 26 points, but shot a mason-like 7 of 22 from the field. One of the most electric ball handlers in the game, Kyrie’s signature strength is his ability to skitter into slivers of space between defenders and make shots out of nothing. Like most technical virtuosos, he thrives when his audience understands the degree of difficulty of what he’s trying to pull off. The Warriors’ game plan for Irving was smart [the bandwagon nods sagely]: goad him into those ball-on-a-string dribbles that he loves so much and watch the Cavaliers’ player movement grind to a halt around him.
Steph and Klay Thompson shot a combined 8-of-27. It didn’t really matter. The Cavs are a team of players; the Warriors are a system. Unless Cleveland can disrupt that system, like Oklahoma City did with its length, it will continue to struggle. Seven Golden State players scored in double figures; Shaun Livingston (!!!) led the way with 20. LeBron James played 41 minutes and had 23 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, working mostly out of the post, pinging passes to Kevin Love in the corner. It was a solid strategy; Love actually played well. But if the Cavs want to make this a series, LeBron is going to have to turn himself into a human bandwagon and carry even more of the load.