In Lee Jenkins’ new piece for Sports Illustrated today discussing the issue of parity and competitive balance as it pertains to the third straight NBA Finals match-up between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, Warriors advisor Jerry West gave some insight into his distaste for his team’s recent domination of the league:
"I don't like the word parity. Parity is average, and I like to see excellence. But I also like competition. I read the newspaper cover to cover every morning, and even though I don't bet, I look at the lines in Las Vegas. We were underdogs in one game this year. We were favored in Game 2 of the conference finals by 15 points. That is insane. It's not what anybody wants to see. At the end of the third quarter [when the Warriors led 106–75], I almost felt bad for San Antonio, but I also felt bad for our fans. Because if you're a real fan at a playoff game, you want to see a hard-fought battle, back and forth, and at the end somebody wins by a point and you go home worn out. You're charged. You're edgy. But we're up by 30-something, and I'm thinking, 'Hmm, I'd like to leave here if I could.' It's the weirdest thing. I've never felt that way before."
That’s a remarkable admission from West, whose contract with the Warriors will expire following this season, prompting recruiting pitches from a number of teams, including overtures from the L.A. Clippers’ Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers. West previously left the Los Angeles Lakers at the peak of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s success in order to seek a new challenge in Memphis, but that was fifteen years ago, when he was running the franchise as General Manager and not a nearly-80-year-old taking a back seat as a front office advisor.
Still, this quote—and its remarkable timing, following the report last night that the Clippers were interested in West and the follow-ups this morning that they had already spoken with him—indicates that there is legitimacy in L.A.’s pursuit of the NBA legend.