Defending champion Warriors look to defy doubters

Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:05am EDT
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By Jahmal Corner

(Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors have not even raised their championship banner, yet they are already defending their title from vocal challengers ready to debunk their success ahead of the 2015-16 NBA campaign that opens on Tuesday.

Led by league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and first-year coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors capped a 67-win season by winning their first NBA title in 40 years last June yet somehow failed to make believers out of their competition.

During an offseason of opining, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers implied that Golden State were lucky to avoid injury and his team during their title run while Houston shooting guard James Harden said he should have won the MVP award over Curry.

Even a recent poll of NBA general managers revealed that most project the Cleveland Cavaliers to win this season's title. The Warriors were voted third behind the San Antonio Spurs, reflecting skepticism in the current title holders.

"I apologize for us being healthy," Curry sarcastically said. "I apologize for us playing who was in front of us. I apologize for all the accolades we received as a team and individually. I'm very, truly sorry, and we'll rectify that situation this year."

Golden State's validity as champions will be severely tested in the Western Conference, and potentially again by the LeBron James-led Cavaliers whom they beat in the 2015 NBA Finals.

Cleveland return with All-Star forward Kevin Love, back after missing most of the playoffs with injury. Guard Kyrie Irving is recovering from a knee ailment and will also rejoin the team considered the clear favorite in the East.

The San Antonio Spurs made the biggest offseason splash by acquiring top free agent forward LaMarcus Aldridge as well as veteran David West.   Continued...

Oct 17, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (37) during the third quarter at Valley View Casino Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports