Golden State Warriors centre Andrew Bogut insisted his team-mates fail to receive the credit they deserve, but the NBA champions are driven by the doubters in their bid for back-to-back titles.
The Warriors ended their 40-year wait for a championship at the expense of the Cleveland Cavaliers in June, but the Golden State franchise spent most of the off-season responding to critics.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers claimed the Warriors were lucky to win the NBA Finals, while Houston Rockets guard James Harden said he deserved to be crowned MVP ahead of Golden State star Steph Curry.
Those comments, though, have not gone unnoticed by Bogut and Co. amid their remarkable 15-0 start to the season.
“Some people don’t like how we are, and look to derail us along the way. We respect every team we play against, and are not too worried by what people say,” Bogut wrote in his column for NBA Australia.
“The style that we play – we’re free flowing and we shoot a lot of threes. Our bench is always up there celebrating, and perhaps that’s viewed as cocky or arrogant to some.
“All of that aside, we feel we haven’t probably received the credit we deserve after everything we achieved as a team last season, and the way things have panned out to begin 2015-16.
“It’s probably better for us to come into a season after winning a championship and then being doubted once again.
“It gives us more fire and drive, and maybe that’s the reason why we’ve started the way we have.
“Look at the way Steph is playing right now. At the beginning of the season, people said other players should have won the MVP instead of him, and now Steph has more than proven that he deserved it last season.
“Right now, he’s probably leading the race again up to this point. We definitely notice what people say and use that as motivation.”
Rivers’ comments about the Warriors have only added to a tense rivalry between the two Western Conference contenders.
The Warriors have already beaten the Los Angeles team twice this season, the most recent win coming on Thursday.
Curry posted 40 points as the Warriors rallied from 23 points down to prevail 124-117.
Bogut added: “It really is one of the strongest rivalries in the NBA right now.
“Whenever we play, the games are incredibly physical, and both teams match-up really well with each other. It’s a spectacle for TV and for fans; there are so many good players and All-Stars on the court.
“Usually the game is worth the price of admission, and the last game was no exception.
“We need to be at our best to win, and both teams are always up for it.”