First, let’s get this out of the way.

The Warriors did not lose because of the bad officiating.  They lost because too many of their players (Harrison) disappeared at big moments.

That said, that was some bullshit officiating.  The first few games had been as loosely called as any NBA playoff games I’ve seen, up until they let Lebron James literally walk all over Draymond Green and suddenly the thing that happens when you don’t enforce the rules happened.  Calls against both Steph and Kevin Love were ridiculously ticky-tack.

And Steph is no more a complainer than Lebron James.  He’s just less diplomatic about how he complains and shows his disdain, and quite frankly, I prefer how Steph does it.

But let’s step away from that, because the most stomach-churning part of Thursday’s game was the sudden, let’s-all-bow-down praise being lavished upon Lebron James.  It was sickening, and it wasn’t just Warriors fans who are tired of it.  It’s this sort of celebritizing of him that made the majority of the basketball world, including Cleveland themselves, turn against him.

You want to know why I don’t like Lebron, even outside of the still-sudden rise of the Warriors?  Because he represented the things I liked least about basketball and why I became a much more casual fan of it.  Maybe it’s the baseball fan in me (and the stereotypes that brings), but the ego was too too much in the game for much of the late 90’s, the look-at-me type of game rather than good team play, where there are certainly stars but very important role players.

I know it’s ironic, because I did love watching Michael Jordan, who was as much the representative of how a player could be more than the team as anyone ever, but even he will always be linked with players like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr and, of course, Phil Jackson.  Jordan had ego…and so do Steph and other Warriors (Draymond).  But the ego was kept relative to the game at hand.

I, like many others, found “The Choice” the most annoying, infuriating sports thing I’ve seen.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not evil, but it was one of the most obvious signs of self-ego-worship ever.  It represented all the worst things that basketball had become, at least to me.

The Warriors are not without ego, and there are moments I’m not a big fan of (yes, I do think Draymond overreacts at time, although I generally like him having a deserved-chip on his shoulder).  But for all the attention that Steph gets nationally, there’s not a Warriors fan out there who doesn’t recognize the importance of all the other players.  From the still, and ever-underrated Klay Thompson to the incredible versatile Draymond to Bogut’s outstanding strength to Harrison’s bursts and flurries to Andre’s fire off the bench…and right down to the vision of Livingston and the sudden fire of Barbosa.

Every player on this team really has a purpose, and a role.  It doesn’t make anyone simply “replaceable”, though the depth can mean if one player is being limited, others can adapt.

But mostly, it’s because this offense, when it is at it’s best, is as much about the guys off the ball as those on it.  Running the defense ragged, allowing for someone like Steph to be the distraction, or Draymond to be the decision-maker…that’s a team game.  I love to see it, I love to watch it.

To defeat Lebron, and especially now, is to validate that basketball is still a team sport, a sport of trying to fit together a puzzle of talents rather than shoehorn a puzzle of egos, and that validation is one I not only love to see, but I now crave.

The Warriors got away from that sort of game for a couple of games, obviously.  It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.  But so far, they’ve always come back to it.

Let’s see if they can do it one more glorious time.

I don’t want a competitive Game 7 this time.  Beat Lebron et al. down and destroy this idea once more, Warriors.