At their absolute best, the Golden State Warriors were virtually unbeatable during their two-year title run with Kevin Durant. Not even LeBron James' best efforts were enough to topple them over in their two NBA Finals clashes.
It was Western Conference rival James Harden and the Houston Rockets that gave them the most fight – and even Draymond Green acknowledges that. In a recent appearance on JJ Redick's Old Man and the Three podcast, the Warriors star was completely candid on his former rivals.
Via Old Man and the Three:
“I don't think there was another team in the NBA that could have beaten that Rockets team. … But I will tell you where they made their biggest mistake. Where they made their biggest mistake was Daryl Morey coming out and saying, ‘this team is built to beat the Warriors. We built this team specifically to beat the Warriors.'”
“What I will say is Daryl Morey, real Gs move in silence. So for the rest of the year we're like alright, we'll get there, we'll get to that game and then we're gonna beat them.”
The Golden State Warriors are already one of the greatest teams ever assembled, if not the greatest period. Giving them bulletin board material before every game is definitely not what you want to do.
The Rockets tried to match the star power with the Chris Paul trade and even went overboard with the three-point heavy philosophy that the Warriors are credited with starting. But there was just too much talent on those Golden State teams for Houston to keep up.
But in fairness to Daryl Morey, that's not exactly how he phrased it. The Rockets GM was simply “obsessed” with beating Golden State, which feels like a sign of respect more than anything. He was quoted saying as such early in the 2017-18 season.
Via Bleacher Report:
“I think I'm not supposed to say that, but we're basically obsessed with ‘How do we beat the Warriors?' Last year the Spurs knocked us off, so we're very worried about the Spurs, they're always one step ahead of every organization and guard us better than anyone. But we calculated it—it's like 90 percent if we're gonna win a title, we've gotta obviously beat the Warriors at some point. So we're extremely focused on that. A lot of our signings and what we do during the year is based on that.”
The words from the Rockets architect at the time aren't as incendiary as Draymond Green makes them out to be. But of course, as we've all grown accustomed to seeing from Michael Jordan's Last Dance interviews, viewing any potential slight as a personal affront could be channeled into added motivation on the court.
For such a dominant team like the Golden State Warriors to stay locked in, with a championship already in tow, they'd need a challenge worthy of getting up for. James Harden and the Rockets provided that, and made Draymond Green and Co. better for it.