Why the Golden State Warriors Are Like 'Silicon Valley' Startup Pied Piper

RTSCRSB
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates against the Washington Wizards, on March 29. YLE TERADA/USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS

As an amuse-bouche for Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, we offer this pop culture morsel in the form of a question: Which Bay Area team has the more impressive starting five, the Warriors or Pied Piper?

If you are unfamiliar with the latter, Pied Piper is the underdog tech startup around which the HBO series Silicon Valley is based. The team at Pied Piper consists of the socially awkward founder, Richard Hendricks; the bombastic entrepreneur, Erlich Bachman; the programmers, Gilfoyle and Dinesh; and the heartbreakingly earnest chief financial officer, Jared. All five men appear to be in their late '20s to early '30s, and all five bring diverse, albeit complementary, talents to a small company that specializes in data compression storage.

The Warriors, or Dubs, occupy the East Bay, as they make their home in Oakland. The Pied Piper quintet resides in a ranch-style home owned by Bachman, an "incubator" for the startup. It sits across San Francisco Bay, in the eponymous area designated by the show's title. The only gulf between the two teams is aquatic.

The guys at Pied Piper, not unlike the Dubs, have succeeded by disregarding the conventional wisdom about their field. They are industry disruptors, debunkers of the accepted formula. Two years ago, the Warriors fired head coach Mark Jackson and brought in Steve Kerr to replace him. Kerr, who won championships as a guard with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, has altered the way basketball is played by turning his players loose to shoot 3-pointers. The result was the best all-time regular-season record (73-9). Call it drone-strike basketball: This season, the Warriors set records for most 3-pointers per game by a team (13.13) and a player (4.9, by Stephen Curry). The Dubs have changed the game's paradigm, and the rest of the NBA is fretting over whether or not to follow their formula.

Meanwhile, across the bay, Pied Piper lost its figurative head coach, angel investor Peter Gregory, two seasons ago. Real-life tragedy, the death of the actor who played Gregory, Christopher Evan Welch, compelled the show's creator, Mike Judge, to alter the plotline. The unwelcome upheaval in the cast has actually been a narrative boon for Silicon Valley; these orphaned engineers have been forced to raise themselves in a way that's redolent of a former Bay Area–based show, Party of Five.

Golden State's team motto is "Strength in numbers," and that may as well be the battle cry of Pied Piper (besides, it's easier to pronounce than "Meinertzhagen's Haversack"). The green Pied Piper logo also reminds us of Robin Hood, who rallied his Merry Men with the motto "All for one, and one for all," which is simply a more florid way of expressing the same sentiment.

The Warriors' starting five—two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut (who was injured in Game 5 and is lost for the remainder of the series)—are already rich men. Each is a millionaire. The Pied Piper starting five are essentially broke, but as soon as their company goes public, they could each potentially be exponentially wealthier than their Warrior compatriots. Heck, by the end of next season, they could have floor seats at Oracle Arena.

Before we come to that moment, let's examine which individual players on each team compare to those on the other:

06_16_Warriors_02
Reuters; HBO

Draymond Green and Erlich Bachman

This is by far the easiest call. Two guys who would be the first to bleed for their respective teams but just never know when to shut up. Both Green, who was suspended for Game 5, and Bachman, who was briefly outed from being a part of Pied Piper, have an unhealthy obsession with the male anatomy. Green has twice been called for flagrant fouls this postseason for hitting opposing players in the junk, while Bachman mentions male genitalia at least once per episode. He famously referred to a satellite friend of Pied Piper's, Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti, as "more useless than a bag of dicks without a handle."

06_16_Warriors_03
Reuters; HBO

The Splash Brothers and Gilfoyle and Dinesh

Curry and Thompson have finished first and second in 3-point field goals in the NBA, respectively, in each of the past three seasons. Theirs is a healthy and fruitful dynamic. Gilfoyle and Dinesh are no less close and no less integral to the success of Pied Piper. The major difference is that the Silicon Valley dynamic is based on the monotone Gilfoyle owning his transparent colleague in every conflict. It's Murray Slaughter and Ted Baxter all over again.

RTX2EEXT
Reuters

The Others

There is no analogue on the Dubs' starting five, or even its roster, for Hendricks. And it may be a stretch to compare the tall and awkward Jared to the taller and less awkward Bogut. Actually, the next-best comparison worth making is between Kerr and Monica Hall, the lone holdover from Gregory's venture capital firm who remains involved with the team. Like Kerr, she monitors her team and encourages them without being overbearing, but will still occasionally step in and smash a clipboard when circumstances demand it.

Of course, fans of both the NBA and HBO will have to acknowledge one final parallel: This means the Cleveland Cavaliers are Hooli.