Which Poole-infused Warriors’ death lineup nickname is best?

The Golden State Warriors ground the visiting Denver Nuggets to dust for a second consecutive game Monday, and the discourse exploded right on schedule. Are the Warriors back? Is Chase Center as raucous as Oracle? Will Joel Embiid partisans ever say something nice about Nikola Jokic? These are all literal questions, and maybe someone has time to answer them. But there was another question wafting in the air, a much more important one that whipped up a collective frenzy: What the hell are we supposed to call Golden State’s new death lineup?

For the seven or eight of you not in the know, the (original) death lineup was not an influential 1980s anarcho-crust band but a name lovingly bestowed way back in the 2014-15 season on the genre-bending five-man unit of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Skilled playmakers, elite shooting, aggressive long-limbed defenders – this was essentially the platonic ideal of winning small-ball. Steve Kerr (nice guy, good-looking guy!) Wisely leaned into this dangerous lineup during the playoffs, and it propelled the Golden State Warriors to their first championship in 40 years. The following season, the same lineup hammered the league nightly and won the most regular season games in NBA history and nothing bad happened after that. And of course, the next year the rich got richer and switched out solid New Republic subscriber Harrison Barnes for human inferno Kevin Durant. The death lineup became the megadeath lineup. And then Durant left. Iguodala was traded. Klay and Steph were injured. Draymond’s attention wandered. The death lineup, for all intents and purposes, was dead.

Hopefully the league has enjoyed the two-year vacation from their collective death lineup fatigue because – largely thanks to Jordan Poole’s development and a timely sustained hot streak – the death lineup is back. This is vintage Warriors Dynasty basketball. That familiar onslaught. It’s a beautiful thing to watch in real-time. Life-affirming tidy chaos, a deficit flipped on its head into a rout in an alchemical blur. One never gets tired of watching the life go out of the eyes of the opposition, doing more than a decent job right up to the moment when the dam breaks.

Sure, you might correctly point out this new death lineup has played roughly 10 minutes of basketball together. Yes, the Nuggets are singularly ill-equipped personnel / injury-wise to hold back the storm. Yes, there are other caveats and qualifiers. Who cares? At this fragile moment in time while the world is on the brink, let’s agree to enjoy this delightful throwback to the halcyon days of yore (a few years ago).

The much more pressing matter is settling on a name for the latest death lineup. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the more popular options that gained some traction following the latest defenestration of Denver.


PTSD

PTSD = Poole, Thompson, Steph, Draymond. Simple enough. This was an early frontrunner on Twitter, one can assume largely due to the shell-shocked expressions of the reeling Nuggets, who won’t soon forget these onslaughts in the dead of the night. The acronym is a bit of a stretch, using two surnames and two given names to cobble up the right letters. Run-TMC, for instance, followed the rules and following the rules is important, which is why “Air Bud” is such a powerful film.

This isn’t quite a dealbreaker, but “PTSD” also completely erases the existence of Andrew Wiggins, which is fair, but rude. The death lineup has always been inclusive of all five of the killers on the floor. A democracy of jolly executioners. To single out the lone Canadian of the group as somehow being unworthy smacks of American crass exceptionalism.

But my first thought when this name started making the rounds was that it would not really pass muster with anyone familiar with actual PTSD or trauma. To be clear, there are plenty of NBA nicknames we could retroactively “cancel” (alternatively: discuss the merits or lack thereof) before we even get to “PTSD,” but it’s obviously something to think about carefully before emblazoning it on T-shirts and fitted hats. The name was clearly not intended to give offense or act as a trigger. It’s meant, I assume, as a celebration of the singular aesthetically pleasing damage the death lineup (s) have historically doled out. Even so, it’s a middling nickname, and you don’t go to the ramparts to defend a middling nickname against the (some justified, some less so) pushback it will invariably receive.

3G

TNT was shamelessly pushing the “3G” lineup during the broadcast, both during the call of the game and back at the studio. This, one would assume, is making note of the Dubs’ three-guard lineup, and also that we’re on the death lineup’s third official iteration. Still, even grounded in “reality” and “logic,” this is a total whiff.

I don’t have enough words allotted to me to really annotate exactly why this name sickens me on a visceral level, so I’ll paint with a wide brush here and just say it sucks. It sucks a lot. It does not roll off the tongue. The death lineup? That’s scary. I’m scared of that. 3G? Well, I guess if you were scared of numbers and letters that might come off as intimidating, but otherwise, no, it is utterly without fangs. Telecommunications humor is the last refuge of a loser, and that’s leaving aside the fact that 3G is old news. Why not name this unit the Fax Machines or the Dial-Ups? Furthermore, the internal logic doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. May I remind the Jury of Public Opinion that the previous death lineups were never referred to as “2G3F”?

I rest my well-argued case.

One more thing: With the emphasis on the three guards, you’re throwing indirect shade at Draymond Green, the fulcrum who makes the whole thing work in the first place. You don’t want to give Draymond Green more opportunities to remind everyone he’s signed to Klutch during a stressful regular season.

Death and Maxes

Long-time Bay Area gadfly Tim Kawakami (a little too proudly) unleashed this nickname upon the world whilst also reminding us that he came up with the Hamptons 5. Thank you for your service, Mr. Kawakami.

Let’s break it down.

Pro: It highlights the inevitability of the lineup’s historical dominance with a clever-ish pun on the two existential threats you will face down throughout your life (not being able to live forever, lying to the IRS).

Con: It’s a bit too whimsical to really delineate the traditional deadliness of the lineup. “Bang! The Death and Maxes lineup has done it again! Mama there goes that Death and Maxes! ” Nope. Too much going on. Distracts one from the primeval heft of the original.

Pro: The word death, which pays homage to past death lineups. This hits upon a core feature of Golden State ethos: continuity.

Con: The word Maxes, which doesn’t make me think of max contracts, but a bunch of lanky guys named Max wearing glasses and shooting airballs.

Pro: Better than Kawakami’s other idea.

Con: I don’t like it.

Infinity Poole

Another Tim Kawakami joint. Thanks, but no thanks, Tim. There’s something odd about it that I can’t put my finger on. Something about it being not good…

Fast Five

This one’s fine, but a little entry-level. Still, a key tenet of this lineup is pushing the pace to an unbearable extent, so sure, that tracks. It’s also hearkening back to one of the more universally acclaimed installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, so again, no problem there. Borrowed from that storied franchise is the implication that much like Dom Toretto and his ragtag band of outlaw motorists, this group is more than a team: It’s a family, one that like their film counterparts has a penchant for turning former adversaries into card-carrying members (Iguodala, Durant, Jokic in a few years).

I give it a strong B-.

The Bomb Squad

Post-game analyst Grant Liffman chucked this one into the ether for consideration. The Bomb Squad. It’s because the Warriors are good at 3-pointers and they are a squad. So far, so good! But being deadly from distance is a symptom of the disease (the disease of death!), Not the disease itself. You’re not going to trot out Jason Kapono, Anthony Morrow, Bryn Forbes, Daequan Cook and Draymond Green and obliterate teams. Possibly obliterate them with fits of laughter, but probably not with fits of points. Good effort, Grant, but I’m going to pass.

The Resurrection Lineup

This one comes courtesy of twitter user @ 4BrandonWu.

It’s certainly cogent and well-reasoned, but I feel compelled to keep church and state separated when it comes to basketball lineups of death. That’s what the Founders fought for.

Andrew Wiggins and the Water Dudes

Joey Devine, founding member and one of the architects of the funniest NBA podcast of all time (Roundball Rock), struck gold with this one. What do you get when you combine the Splash Brothers and a poole (sic)? Andrew Wiggins and the Water Dudes. No notes. Straight and to the point, and generous enough to consecrate Andrew Wiggins as a foundational piece of this nascent murder lineup.

(Devine’s co-host and Golden State of Mind scribe Sean Keane also rose to the challenge with quite a few excellent offerings.)

The Best of the Rest

Trawling Twitter prompts yielded no shortages of crowd-sourced proposals. Here’s a sampling (which I will neither endorse nor condemn) to help you get a sense of what it would be like cloistered with Dubs Nation punching up jokes in a writer’s room.

–Liquid Line-Up
–DefCon 1
–The Good Killaz
–Dead Poole
–The Unguardables
–Rainmen
–The Wet Dream Team (note: This one’s a bit risque…)
–Title Wave
–Lethal Weapon 3
–Splash Mountain
–The Mariana Trench

My verdict

There are only two realistic options. With all apologies to the many perfectly fine submissions (and with zero apologies to 3G and Infinity Poole) I believe in my heart of hearts that the obvious and most fitting nickname for Golden State’s new death lineup is…

The death lineup.

* Anticlimactic record scratch. *

But seriously, how could it be realistically be anything else? Everybody knows what the death lineup means in their bones. It’s not just five guys sadistically knee-capping the opposition with cheat-code offense and mean-spirited smothering defense. It’s an idea. It’s the DNA of this dynasty. The skeleton key to paradise. Jordan Poole ascending to the top of the totem pole is a great story and an even better indicator that the Warriors might just be all right after Steph Curry shimmies out of our lives. But the death lineup name still carries the same gravitas, still means the exact same thing it did in 2015 when it was first unleashed. Jordan Poole and possibly Andrew Wiggins (is he an official member yet?) Are joining a special brotherhood that really doesn’t need to be rebranded every few years, especially if the results continue to be so undeniably… death-y.

The other possibility is Andrew Wiggins and the Water Dudes. I think that one has real legs.

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