Strength in Numbers ended the Warriors’ season

Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to his team in the huddle in the third quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to his team in the huddle in the third quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Warriors’ motto “Strength in Numbers” was great for selling t-shirts and getting retweets, but was horrible on the basketball court.

Thousands of fans, young and old, came together night after night to watch the Golden State Warriors try to make history.

For several hours, they set aside any differences they had and became a sea of gold. Each member of #DubNation in attendance to watch them put on a suit of armor, of sorts. A uniform meant to intimidate the enemy and dazzles spectators at home. They all wore yellow t-shirts with a blue script that read: “Strength in Numbers.”

That has been the Warriors’ motto for the last two years.

It’s about the collective superseding the individual. It’s about coming together as a unit and overcoming the odds through cooperation. And it’s fun for the fans to get behind. It’s clever and engaging. It’s a perfect rallying cry to unify a diverse area.

It’s also why the Warriors lost the NBA Finals.

Steve Kerr is credited with starting the slogan and he should be credited with burning it to the ground. The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors are one of the greatest teams of all-time even without a title. They smashed records on a nightly basis. They boasted one of the league’s most productive bench units, led by guys like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

They also had, arguably, the best lineup in basketball today–their “Death Lineup.”

The Warriors’ “Death Lineup” has started a small ball revolution. It’s paving the way for the rest of the league to transition to more versatile, non-traditional lineups. It has been dominant on both ends of the floor over the last two years.

Game 7’s are all about winning or losing with your best guys on the floor. You want to ride your horses; bet on what got you to this point. You live and die with what you have. You can’t go down leaving bullets in the chamber. There’s no shame in going down swinging, but it’s irresponsible to not put up the right fight. The Warriors had 48 minutes to cook up their best dish and instead of cooking their signature meal, they experimented with poor ingredients.

The Warriors did not play a great game. Outside of Draymond Green, it didn’t look like Golden State was ready to play. Despite this, they were still in the game. They even held a lead for most of it. Their energy level was high enough to make up for their poor execution and play.

With about six minutes left in the fourth quarter and Golden State holding a narrow four point lead, Kerr went big. He brought in Festus Ezeli and, almost immediately, found himself switched onto LeBron James. James, who hadn’t hit an outside shot all game, pump faked at the three-point line and got Ezeli into the air. He drew the foul and made three free throws. Stephen Curry turned the ball over with a silly behind the back pass. Then James hit a three-pointer over Ezeli in the next possession.

Even though he was struggling, Kerr stuck with Ezeli for some reason. In 10 minutes, he was -9 with 0 points and 2 rebounds. The Warriors went to him early, trying to get him a look in the post on the first possession of the game. He went to his righty hook and bricked. He was ineffective on both ends of the floor and Kerr still went with him.

Another inexplicable decision: Anderson Varejao minutes. Ever since Varejao signed with Golden State, Kerr relied on him far too much. He was also -9 in 8 minutes with 1 point and 0 rebounds. He committed multiple fouls on Kyrie Irving, allowing him to get on a roll in the third quarter.

Warriors and their fans reveled in their success, bordering on arrogance. It was understandable. With so much success, it’s hard to not enjoy yourself. The Warriors thrived on their arrogance and, eventually, died with it too as no one was more arrogant, more sure of himself, more stubborn to change than Kerr.

Jun 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; A view of t-shirt on seat before game five of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

He wanted to win on his own terms and he failed. He refused to see what seemed to be pretty obvious adjustments, blinded by “Strength in Numbers,” and depth. Tyronn Lue shortened his rotation and relied on his stars, as you should when your season is on the line. It’s inexcusable that your best player only plays 39 minutes in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. That shouldn’t happen.

Steve Kerr has done a good job in creating a system that has taken a team to the Finals two years in a row. But he failed when it counted most. Curry, in his limited minutes, couldn’t bail him out this team. Kerr gambled, trusting his own philosophy instead of the obvious, and lost.

A firm belief in “Strength in Numbers” lost the Warriors the championship.