Once again Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors blew a golden opportunity to bring some calm, rational, sane perspective to their season.
They won in Miami. They won a close game in Miami. They won because a rookie saw a veteran overplay the wrong guy and another veteran not cover his overplay and broke to the basket wide open for the winning layup with .9 seconds to play.
[HIGHLIGHTS: Green's last-second layup gives Warriors win in Miami]
In other words, they continue to get people heated up about a season that would make We Believe look like We Feel Like Our Cough May Be Abating A Bit.
(It is at this point that we should warn those of you who are sarcasm-impaired that the rest of this story will continue along this vein. If you find that off-putting, confusing, or excessively left-handed, you should go somewhere else. Or grit your teeth and misunderstand it with all your might. The choice if yours. For the rest of you, we will continue).
In beating the defending NBA champions on their own floor for only the fourth time in 31 tries going back 20 years, the Warriors have done the unconscionable – they have forced a fan base accustomed to temper its hopes and expectations to ratchet them wildly upward.
And that means what, children? Demands, more expectations, more demands. Suddenly folks on the street are going to remember that they know more about basketball than the coaches and players, and that if they were only coaching or playing the team would be much better than the one which is currently on a pace to win 56 games.
(And yes, we know that “on a pace to” is the lousiest phrase in sports. Go with us here a bit, will ya?)
It means angst and arguing about what will happen when Andrew Bogut returns, and how Andris Biedrins should be in the rotation more, and when Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes are going to hit the rookie wall, and whether Carl Landry or Jarrett Jack should win Comeback Player of the Year.
[RELATED: Ratto -- What will Andrew Bogut's return mean to the Warriors?]
It means bullying their way into conversations about the NBA that Laker and Heat and Celtic and Maverick and Spur and Thunder fans have been holding behind their backs for . . . well, 35 years now.
It means tavern fights.
All because the Warriors don’t know how to gradually escape earth orbit. They are 5-0 on a seven-game road trip, entering Orlando Friday night – the same Orlando that so thoughtfully reminded them that the NBA is no place for children by slapping them on their own floor a week and change ago.
And all because they couldn’t turn down the thermostat a bit by losing at Washington the night after winning at Brooklyn.
And all because they are doing this while the Lakers are aggressively stinking out the division. They’ve suddenly become some sort of ESPN charity case, as though the Staples Center was damaged in Superstorm Sandy and desperately needs not only Steve Nash’s return but a relief concert with Billy Joel and Paul McCartney as the septuagenarian headliners.
Now how do the Warriors expect the customers to hold their pants on with all that happening?
It is this level of wasteful emotion that imperils what we have all safely and comfortably predicted for them – a nice 38- to 42-win season in which improvement is evident yet not overwhelming. It is a classic example of getting out over one’s skis, as the tragically hip like to say. They are Peaking Too Early.
Not for themselves, of course. They presumably have been told that every win now is a game that cannot be a loss later, and that playing defense and rebounding are not just a jocular repudiation of the failed basketball of the last two decades, but a way of life. They’re doing fine.
But in doing fine, they imperil the rest of us. The bandwagon hasn’t even been fitted for the second axle yet and already it looks like a refugee ship. The carefully crafted plan for slow, solid growth that can last more than a few years is being abandoned for the more fashionable win-two-out-of-every-three-games nonsense that has attracted the Heat and Mavs and Lakers and Spurs and Celtics.
We are faced with a choice far too early in our development – buy in now, buy in later, or don’t buy in at all. The third choice seems increasingly foolish, the second seems prudent but a bit Elmer Fudd-like, and the first just seems throw-the-empties-out-the-sun-roof reckless.
Warrior fans are not used to this level of agony before Christmas. This is plainly wrong and unfair, and the mass vertigo of the moment cannot be good for anyone’s constitution.
Maybe what the Warriors need, then, is a Great Time Out.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll run out the back door so as not to be struck by any flying beer steins.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com