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Sports Authority

O’Boyle: Warriors need to be the bad guys

| Tuesday, October 25, 2016

“Suicide Squad” was, without a doubt, my least favorite movie of 2016. The year’s not over, and there are other supposedly bad movies I haven’t seen yet, but I feel confident in saying that this summer’s DC Comics effort was the worst film to come out this year. It’s disjointed, it’s neither fun nor exciting and Jared Leto’s Joker cannot hold a candle to Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in The Dark Knight.

In short, there are very few people who I would recommend it to. Maybe a few people who have personally wronged me in some way. And the Golden State Warriors.

Not out of hatred for the Warriors. I think I’m one of the few people left who still likes their quick passing and ridiculous shooting enough to overlook everything else. But because of one more thing that was pretty terrible about the movie (from an admittedly long list).

Comic villain Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) and company spent a huge chunk of the movie reminding each other and the viewer that they’re the bad guys. Enough that it became incredibly annoying in itself. But even worse, they never really felt like truly bad guys. Just the standard flawed protagonists that every entertainment franchise loves these days.

The Golden State Warriors need to keep reminding themselves that this year, they’re the bad guys. And more than that, they need to own it better than the cast of “Suicide Squad” did.

It’s not hard to see how the Warriors became unpopular. Great teams often attract backlash, and when you throw in Draymond Green’s actions in the playoffs and since, Golden State becomes an even easier target. Then on top of all of that, throw in signing one of the best players in the league in Kevin Durant. That’s a team that a lot of people are going to root against. But it can be funny to look at how opinions change from early last season, when they were still popular. No player is a better example of that than two-time MVP Stephen Curry. Curry once had an effortless kind of swagger when he celebrated shots before they went in; now people see him as arrogant. Curry is a player who always looks to be having fun, but he’s going to have to play through this season with everyone hating him and reminding him of his underwhelming performances (and that behind-the-back pass) in the 2016 Finals.

For Kevin Durant, it’s a case of becoming what he once fought against. Durant and the Thunder were the good guys when LeBron James created a superteam in Miami. Now, after one of the great heel-turns in sports history, he’s the star who left his team for an easy ring. Durant’s already had his struggles in big games, and that only gets more difficult when you’re the most unpopular player in the league.

Draymond Green’s always had his “bad guy” characteristics, but people rarely mentioned it.  Now, it’s going to be on the top of every team’s gameplan for Golden State — get Draymond riled up and the key player in the Warriors’ small-ball system could get ejected. Yet at the same time, Draymond has made an all-star career out of his ability to match up physically with much larger players. He can’t do anything stupid, but he can’t go soft either. He’s got to be a controlled bad guy.

Even Klay Thompson, by far the most likable of Golden State’s Big Four, will have to be aware of his team’s new image. When Thompson’s having fun on the court, his shot falls every time and he becomes one of the very best players in the league, but now he needs to recreate that when everyone wants his team to lose. Sure, Thompson should get plenty more open looks to keep his confidence high, but he won’t  be immune from his team’s newfound unpopularity.

The Warriors are still by far the most talented team in the league. By all accounts they should win the Championship. But the greatest champions can thrive off the hatred. If there’s any way a team this talented fails to win a title, it might be because they let themselves care about being liked. Players like Durant and Curry seemed to enjoy being basketball’s darlings, now they’ve got to remind themselves that they’re the bad guy. And they’ve got to enjoy that even more.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

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