A Warrior’s faith

Why I believed in the Warriors ability to win even after Kevin Durant's injury

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A Warrior’s faith

Jai Uparkar

Like many other students during this period of time — filled with early finals and standardized tests — I was extremely stressed: watching the Golden State Warriors play the Rockets in the NBA Western Conference Semifinals, that is. I was sitting in a black leather armchair situated in the corner of my living room, spectating Game 5 of the series on an illegal link from Reddit when Kevin Durant (KD) pulled his right calf with two minutes left in the third quarter.

Immediately I received a text message from my friend, “The Warriors are going to lose, if not this game then the series or the Conference Finals.” His statement reflected the immediate loss of faith in his favorite team and shocked me because he was diehard Warriors fan. Even though the Warriors had lost KD to an injury, they still had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston who were all a part of the 2015 Warrior Championship team and the core five who won a championship without KD. It wasn’t just his lack of faith which shocked me, it was also everyone else’s on social media, including game analysts who echoed similar sentiments.

However, unlike many others, I felt that the Warriors would win this game and eventually the series. Undoubtedly, the series had become harder to win without KD, whom the Warriors have been leaning on the entire postseason (KD averaged 34.2 points). Undoubtedly, Curry had gone cold most of the postseason as he dislocated his left middle finger, missed a wide open dunk and several layups during crucial moments of Game 4 and was shooting only 40.3% from the field.

But my faith in the Warriors wasn’t an example of overconfidence turned into stupidity, but rather my trust in players like Thompson and Curry, who were more than capable of rising to the occasion. The moment KD was injured I knew that the Warriors, or more importantly Curry and Thompson, had to step up and were going to execute under immense pressure. I had a feeling that the world would see old Curry return, the back to back two-time MVP, and also see the old Warriors team return, who played faster with better ball movement and who didn’t have the luxury of relying on KD at clutch moments.

And they did return. Not only did they manage to win Game 5, but they were also able to win Game 6 on the road. Curry, who was scoreless in the first half of Game 6, dominated in the second half by dropping 31 points and Thompson drilled key threes during the last minutes of the fourth quarter with a grand total of 27 points.

My faith in the Warriors was deeply rooted with my previous knowledge of their team dynamic and experience with watching them since the sixth grade. This unwavering confidence stems from one of my own lessons off the tennis court: self belief. For a long time, I had barely any confidence walking into a match. No matter how much I practiced or how high I was ranked, I always doubted myself. More often than not, it was my lack of confidence which lead to my downfall rather than lack of practice or poor execution. If I couldn’t believe in myself, then how could I expect my parents or coach to?

But as time went on, I realized the key to success was not only dependent on practice and hard work, but also just as dependent on confidence. We allow our insecurities and doubts to easily overtake our self confidence, which ultimately leads to us questioning our own limits and capabilities. That doubt is understandable —  the brain is wired to focus on negativity and our shortcomings, but we often forget that we also do a lot of things right.

Similarly, people forgot that with Curry and no KD, the Warriors had a 88% chance of winning while with KD and no Curry the Warriors had a 61% of winning. People forgot that even without KD, one of the best players in the NBA, the Warriors still had: Curry — a two time MVP; Thompson and Livingston — three-time NBA champions; Iguodala — finals MVP; Green — a three-time NBA All-Star.

Many people were quick to write off the Warriors because of KD’s injury, but I encourage you guys not to do that to yourself or anyone else just because things didn’t go as planned, as it did with the Warriors. My last and final lesson from the court, should apply to all of you, whether you’re an athlete or not. Having faith in yourself and your capabilities is one of the greatest tools you can have. But having confidence in yourself, doesn’t mean you won’t fail. You will. But those failures are minor setbacks, and they shouldn’t cause you give up. Keeping that faith in times of failure can only make you better, and if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.