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Are the Warriors "Done?" The Caitlin Effect

In the Warriors' locker room after they were embarrassed by the Sacramento Kings in last week's play-in game, the face of the franchise, Steph Curry, apparently told his longtime teammate and championship compadre, Draymond Green, "we ain't done."

I love Steph Curry, but I think he's wrong.

The Warriors as we have known them for the past decade--with the big Three of Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson--are done.

This year's regular season and play-in game proved it conclusively. 

Fact is, the rest of the league, particularly the turbo-charged Western Conference, has caught up to and passed the Warriors.

Gone are the days when owner Joe Lacob's team was "light years ahead" of the competition.

There are simply too many strong teams with more size, youth, 3-point shooting and athleticism than the Warriors.

Lacob's team finished 10th in the West this year and, unfortunately, the teams ahead of them ain't going away. Oklahoma City, Denver, Minnesota, LA (Clippers), Dallas, New Orleans and Sacramento will only improve as their youthful stars mature. Not to mention the still dangerous Lakers and Suns.

Curry finally showed some signs of slowing down this year as the weight of carrying the team finally proved too much tor him to bear. His turnovers skyrocketed as he tried vainly to make things happen, and he often missed shots he used to make down the stretch.

The Warriors need another big-time scorer--either through trade or free agency-- so that Steph doesn't have to do it alone.

At the same time, they should try to unload Andrew Wiggins and either let free agent Thompson sign with another team or offer him a salary more reflective of his current and future value (perhaps $20M instead of the $43 he made this year).

The Warriors have their own, talented, youthful core--Jonathan Kuminga, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Brandin Podziemski and Moses Moody.

They're the future. And the future is now.

The Caitlin Effect: The NCAA men's basketball championship between UConn and Purdue brought in 14.823 million TV viewers, compared to 18.88 for the women's game between Iowa and South Carolina.

This was the first time the women's title game drew more eyeballs than the men. In fact, the Caitlin Clark show was the highest rated women's basketball game of all time and the highest rated basketball game--college or pro, men or women--since 2019.

Unfortunately, the payouts didn't reflect any of this. TV rights fees for the women's tourney were only $6.5 million. The men's event brought in $873M.

Why are the women out-drawing the men? Several reasons:

1) Better product. This year the women's games were more exciting, for the most part, with better players and better story lines.

2) More well-known stars. In addition to Clark, the women's game boasted great players like UConn's Paige Bueckers, USC's Juju Watkins, LSU's Angel Reese and South Carolina's Camilla Cardoso. Other than Purdue center Zach Edey, none of the men's players were household names.

3) The women's stars stick around longer. The top players in the women's game almost always stay three or four years. Clark played four years, Bueckers will be in her fifth next season. The men, other than Edey, are often one and done.

4) This year, the networks recognized what they had. The women's championship was carried on ABC, while the men's was on TNT/TBS/truTV.

5) NIL is helping the women. Clark is everywhere, seemingly 24/7, with a slew of commercials. She was even on Saturday Night Live with a very funny bit with "Weekend Update" host Michael Che. The college men have no NIL stars on TV.

Is something wrong with this picture? Last year's No. 1 NBA draft pick, Victor Wembanyama, signed a four-year, $55 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs, an average salary of almost $14M.

Clark, the WNBA's No. 1 pick, and the biggest draw in basketball this year, male or female, college or pro, just signed a four-year deal with the Indiana Fever for $338,056, including a rookie salary of $76,535.

But Caitlin isn't going hungry. She also signed a deal with Nike that will pay her $28 million over the next eight years. And she has several other lucrative endorsements, including StateFarm, Gatorade, Buick, Bose and Prada.

Her impact has continued beyond March Madness. The WNBA draft show drew 2.5 million viewers, a 300% increase over last year. All but four of Indiana's 40 games will be televised nationally, and several teams have moved their Indiana games into larger arenas.

Last Word on Clark: From WNBA All-star Nneka Ogwumike, herself a former No. 1 pick in the draft and a two-time All-American at Stanford: "Anybody who says, ‘Oh, she’s not that great’ is downright completely dense.”


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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