Sports Illustrated on Monday morning announced that it has named the Golden State Warriors the 2018 Sportsperson of the Year. In the summer, the Warriors won their third NBA championship in four years.
“Why them?” the magazine says in its online article by reporter Chris Ballard. “There’s no franchise in sports quite like the Dubs, who were once again wildly successful, socially conscious, fun to love, fun to hate- and never boring.”
The Warriors team, led by Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and coached by Steve Kerr, is in the midst of one of the NBA’s great runs of success. In addition to the championships, the team has changed how the game of basketball is played, especially with their emphasis on high-volume three-point shooting. In addition, many players on the team have spoken out about political issues, and the team last year declined to visit the White House following its championship win this year.
The Sportsperson of the Year award is SI‘s answer to TIME’s “Person of the Year.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 10, 2018
“The rise of the Warriors has coincided with the restoration of the NBA as a leading edge of culture that recalls the league’s prolonged boom, which began with the Magic-Larry years in the 1980s and continued through the Jordan-dominated ’90s,” SI’s editors write. “The current boom, too, has coincided with the increasing intersection of sports and the hard questions of politics, race, and identity, among others, that have so divided the country. The Warriors—forcefully but civilly—embraced the unique platform afforded them. No, they did not change the world and its attendant conflicts and ills, but they did not ignore them either.”
It’s relatively rare, but not unprecedented, for teams to win the Sportsperson Award, which was formerly known as Sportsman of the Year, and has traditionally gone to individuals, and occasionally to two or three people. The Boston Red Sox won the award in 2004, the U.S. women’s national soccer team in 1999, and the U.S. men’s hockey team won it in 1980. The Warriors are the first Sportsperson of the Year from the NBA since LeBron James in 2016, as that was the year James’ Cleveland team defeated the Warriors in the NBA Finals. James also won the award in 2012.
The future of Sports Illustrated is somewhat in flux, as the magazine, long owned by Time, Inc., was purchased by Meredith Publications last year but is the company is reportedly already looking to sell SI, as well as Fortune and Money magazines.