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Sorry Brian Windhorst, once you say ‘checkbook game,’ it’s no longer a compliment


Does Warriors owner Joe Lacob spend a lot of money on his basketball team? Certainly. The Warriors are a big-market team, but no one thought of them as one until he bought the team and has been willing to do whatever it takes to win. In 2018-19 they paid Steph Curry $37 million dollars, Kevin Durant $30 million, Klay Thompson almost $19 million, Draymond Green $17 million, and Andre Iguadola $16 million. This season Curry made nearly $46 million, Thompson just under $38 million, Andrew Wiggins $31.5 million, and Green $24 million.


It’s the type of spending that makes small-market MLB and NBA fans complain, but these leagues generate a great deal of revenue. To keep these talented players on the roster, as the late great Mike Hagerty once said, It’ll cost ya.

But “checkbook victory,” does discredit what happened. Most basketball fans and media types believe that the Celtics actually have the better roster. Not much has happened in these five games to be enough indisputable evidence to change that opinion. The Celtics are bigger and more versatile. The Warriors simply have stayed focused in crucial spots more often than their younger adversaries. Wily veterans, especially champions and No. 1 overall draft picks, cost money, but it’s not as if the Warriors bought their way to the NBA Finals this season — now in 2017…


Windorst went on the Bay Area airwaves on Wednesday morning to defend himself.

“I was giving the Warriors a compliment for being able to stick with spending through their rebuild and that’s why they have the depth on this team,” Windhorst said on 95.7 The Game’s Morning Roast. “Nobody would argue that [GM] Bob Myers and his front office have not done a tremendous job, and that Lacob and [co-owner] Peter Guber have done a great job in financing the team. But it is not a level playing field.”


Windhorst was defensive for much of the interview not understanding how the hosts or anyone else would take what he said on Tuesday night as disparaging in any way. I didn’t agree with one of the hosts, Joe Shasky, who said that it sounded like Windhorst was carrying the water for the owners who don’t want to dip into the luxury tax — though I have no pity for them — but I absolutely agreed with him that “checkbook win” comes off as a backhanded compliment, because it is.


The phrase was a great button to Windhorst’s post game comments, but it was going to ruffle some feathers and Windhorst should own it. His logic that many teams couldn’t carry four players making north of $25 million per season, especially if one of them had, before this season, never made an all-star team, long enough so in the Finals he can have the game of his life is fair. Still, just because that’s what Windhorst meant doesn’t mean people are required to take it that way. He can’t control how people interpret his words.

There’s no problem if he were to own the phrase and explain, just like he did on the radio, his reasoning, but don’t act surprised that people bristled by “checkbook win.” It’s a dismissive thing to say.


That also doesn’t excuse those of you who didn’t like what he said, to tweet what you did. Like he said on the radio, “both can be true.”

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