Sports Illustrated on Sunday recognized the Golden State Warriors as their Sportsperson of the Year. The preeminent sports publication has handed out the honor every year since the magazine’s inception in 1954.
The Warriors are only the fourth team to be chosen for the honor. They join the US Men’s Olympic Hockey team in 1980, the US Women’s Soccer Team in 1999, and the Boston Red Sox in 2004.
“This is a pretty cool honor and something we cherish as a group and organization,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry. “I know that I speak on behalf of my teammates when I say that we’re humbled with this recognition. The list of other teams who have earned this award—the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, the 1999 U.S. Women’s Olympic soccer team and the 2004 Boston Red Sox—puts us in exclusive company. That’s exciting.”
Rich Body of Work
Chris Stone, editor-in-chief of SI, said the committee had several candidates, but the Warriors had certain intangibles that transcended their success off the court.
“There are multiple individuals whom Sports Illustrated could have selected as the 2018 Sportsperson of the Year and few would have argued,” Stone said. “But it was impossible to overlook the influence that the Warriors, as a collective group, have had on their sport and the broader culture over the last half-decade. They are a generational phenomenon, the likes of which we might not see again for decades, if at all.”
Golden State has dominated the NBA for the last four seasons, winning the championship three out of those four years. Steve Kerr took over coaching duties in 2014 and guided the team as a 20-1 longshot to the Larry O’Brien trophy, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-2 in the best of seven series.
The next year the two teams faced off again, but the Warriors were 5/1, while Cleveland was 2/1. The Cavaliers won in seven games.
The Warriors answered by signing free agent Kevin Durant in the offseason and began the 2016-2017 season as the overwhelmingly 3/2 pick to win the title. By the time April rolled around they were 1/2 to win, which they did, defeating Cleveland in five games.
Last year could have been the team’s most dominating season, and the reason Sports Illustrated honored them with the award. They opened as the 5/8 favorite, and watched the odds dwindle to 5/12. They swept the Cavaliers to win their third championship in four years.
Future Still Bright
This season the team has not exerted its dominance like it has the past two seasons, though they are still the favorites to win another title. The odds, though, are higher than they have been in the past. They opened the season at 5/4 to win.
Most of the reason for Golden State is not its success, they are 18-9 so far this year, but the teams that were supposed to challenge them are faltering. The Houston Rockets began the season with the second-best odds, but an 11-14 start has them not even a playoff team.
Another team that was supposed to challenge the Warriors was the Boston Celtics. They were the consensus team to win the Eastern Conference, but are currently 16-10 in fifth position. Their title odds have dropped from 6/1 to 11/1.