The Warriors may be struggling to keep their record above .500, but the franchise still packs a punch when it comes to being a national draw.
It’s a carryover from their dynasty that closed the last decade and mostly related to superstar Stephen Curry. He’s been sensational this season, after many observers doubted his ability to have a superstar-type season, including Damian Lillard.
In fact, the Warriors have the third-highest national TV appeal in the NBA, behind only the Lakers and Clippers, according to Ethan Strauss of The Athletic. Golden State ranks above the Nets, too, even with their newly-formed superteam flexing its muscles as of late.
All of that is simply remarkable for a Warriors franchise that used to be incredibly downtrodden, (remarkable, too, for a couple other franchises on that list) but before I get into that, check out a portion of what Strauss wrote for The Athletic on the matter.
When Steph Curry is playing, the Warriors are a top public team. They’re behind the Lakers and Clippers here, but they’re also a far worse squad, with no hope of winning a title. Also, it should be noted that the Warriors played two highly-anticipated ESPN games against the Clippers that occurred concurrently with an especially insane news cycle (look up when those games were). In normal circumstances, those games probably do better by the hundreds of thousands. There’s an argument that all things being equal, Steph’s Warriors are a bigger draw than LeBron’s Lakers. That’s mostly a theoretical claim because, until Klay Thompson returns and some moves are made, all things will remain far from equal.The Athletic
It’s clearly much about Curry, with Golden State having a far worse record than the Lakers or Clippers, as Strauss notes. Those Warriors vs. Clippers games he refers to came as former president Donald Trump instigated (I don’t like typing that but it happened) a deadly insurrection at the U.S capital.
Needless to say, many weren’t rushing to enjoy NBA basketball at that moment.
I’m not sure about the “all things being equal” argument, but I get Strauss’ point: it’s a testament to Curry that the Warriors have so much appeal, even as they struggle to get over the hump. He goes on to ponder whether the Warriors will ever gain a following similar to that of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboy’s, AKA “American’s Team.”
Well, that would really be something. It’s still amazing to me that the Warriors are one of the league’s premier franchises at all, especially after I started watching them play in 1993. Furthermore, it’s pretty nuts that the Clippers and Nets are near the top of the list as well. Each of those franchises have been historically, bad, especially the Clippers, who used to be the laughing stock on the NBA (the Warriors used to be so bad that nobody even made fun of them, for real).
Can the Warriors maintain this level of national interest? It will be tough to hold off the Nets, and it will depend on how many national TV games Golden State receives in the NBA’s second-half schedule.
But judging from the interest around Curry and his squad, expect to see the Dubs on national broadcasts a whole bunch as the season winds down. The only question is how many of those game’s they’ll win, and whether they’ll be a playoff contender.
This is a special time in Warriors history, as they try to build a second dynasty with an aging Curry and a young James Wiseman and others, and wow, is it nothing at all like 1993. What a trip.
(Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)