From the 67 wins to Stephen Curry being named MVP to besting LeBron James and winning the NBA title, the Golden State Warriors were the best team in basketball this year. In fact, they were one of the best teams of all time.
“Well, it was quite a feat,” Warriors television analyst Jim Barnett said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They end up with a total of 83 wins this year, which includes 67 regular-season wins and then the postseason. That’s only been duplicated by two teams, and both of them come from Chicago and they had a player named Michael Jordan on them back in ’96 and ’97. So it’s a pretty rare air that they are in, and everyone on this team is excited, everyone in the organization. It’s been a terrific run. It’s just kind of magical and sometimes a little mysterious because who would’ve thought last September that this team would end up as the NBA champions? They performed well the last couple of years and you knew they were going to be good, but to breeze like they did is pretty remarkable.”
Barnett played for Golden State from 1971 to 1974 and has served as team broadcaster for the last 30 years. Watching this year’s team play as it did meant a great deal to him.
“You like to see good basketball, and you like to see good people playing good basketball,” he said. “The Warriors had all those ingredients that you can talk about in a team: selfless play, play at both ends of the floor, a center or two who could defend the rim, people who can pass the ball, people who can shoot the ball from the perimeter, players that can come in and be interchangeable so you don’t miss a beat, (and) you have a deep roster.”
And yet, some analysts, such as Charles Barkley, were skeptical of the Warriors when the playoffs began. Barkley knew the Warriors were talented, but he didn’t trust them, dismissing them as a jump-shooting team.
“The Warriors were so much more than a jump-shooting team,” Barnett said. “At times, it looked like Cleveland was playing against seven or eight defensive players the way they rotated, the way they got after it.”
The Warriors limited the Cavaliers to just 90.0 points per game in the final three games of the series, winning all three by a combined 42 points.
And then there’s their off-court performance. As cliche as it is, the Warriors – by all accounts – really are good guys.
“They’re terrific young men,” the 70-year-old Barnett said. “They’ve got integrity. They have a good foundation. They’ve got balance in life, which, at my age, I really appreciate. It’s fun being around them and it’s been very magical. It’s been a magical season. For me, I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and I’ve never seen a team like this. It’s kind of fun to see basketball played the right way.”