The team won the fourth state championship of the Golden State Warriors dynasty, paying $ 40 million to the all-time great shooter who stole his prime with brutal injuries and $ 25 million to the power forward who lost full confidence in his ability to score. $ 33 million for a wing that was once considered a bust.
Of the six teams that led Stephen Curry to the NBA Finals, it was probably the most damaging, the least talented and certainly the hardest to read.
Furthermore, when it was all over and they retained the trophy after the Boston Celtics were eliminated from six games, the lesson they provided during these playoffs was sounding like a siren. For all their vulnerabilities, the accumulation of experience and championship DNA is still important in the league, even though it has never been more talented and achieved in a way that no one has seen in this century.
The Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan in the late 1990s, led to Kobe Bryant Lakers and Tim Duncan Spurs, while LeBron James became finalists in Miami and Cleveland, where he competed with Curry for four years in a row. The NBA works like this: when one All-Time Great Player drops behind, another picks up. Equality in this league is largely a myth.
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But Thursday night’s winning championship pierced the Golden State NBA’s different era; The decline of the stars over the last decade and when the next generation of great players try to figure out how to win one of these things is even more unpredictable, fluid and extraordinarily ingenious.
The NBA has dynamic young superstars in at least 10 markets from Dallas to Denver, from Memphis to Atlanta, from Cleveland to Phoenix and in some places in the middle. These playoffs proved that the gap between their ambitions and their retention of the Larry O’Brien Trophy was huge.
In the case of the modern NBA Champions, the Warriors team that won Thursday night was unusually flawed. Curry is still curry, but anyone who compares this group to the 2015-18 Warriors should be sentenced to a week of memory jogging on YouTube.
After more than 900 days without playing in the NBA game, Clay Thompson did not return as the same player. Sure, he can still do elite shooting at a certain moment, but his comeback is defined by exceptionally cool streaks, glitchy decision making and reduced mobility.
Drymond Green, 32, was not once an athlete. He’s still one of the smartest players in the league, but losing a small bounce at 6-foot-6 would also be a big deal – and in these playoffs he worked very hard most nights to do anything for offense. .
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And then Andrew Wiggins, out of 5½ seasons in Minnesota, earned a reputation as a player who did not fight enough, did not shoot particularly well and could thrive under playoff pressure.
Wiggins was the Warriors’ second-best player of the post-season. He is legally excellent at times not only with his scoring, but also with his consistent defensive intensity and likes to physically combine on glass. Wiggins’ attempt was undoubtedly the difference between winning the Golden State Championship and going home a few weeks ago.
Curry’s thoughts on what the franchise will be like have been on the wane since the Warriors won the title with a 103-90 victory, with the final seconds away in Game 6, losing in the finals against Toronto in 2019. The series after Thompson’s devastating ACL, and Kevin Durant’s decision to move to Brooklyn after that, has the worst record in the Warriors league in 2020 and lost in the play – off game in 2021. With so much uncertainty engulfing their key players, it seemed like a long time to win the title again. Baked even though they were healthy.
“We’re far from it,” Curry told ABC. “We’ve been here five years in a row and got three of them and then we’ve put the rock bottom and the long work ahead and we’ll try to fill in the right pieces and the right guys and you’ll never take it big. You’ll be back here forever. Come back here and finish it means the world. . “
But the important lesson to learn from this NBA season is that it is a league in transition. Many celebrities over the past decade, such as James, Cowie Leonard, Anthony Davis and Kyle Lowry, have been elderly or injured. The super team model did not work with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. And young stars who have tasted playoff success like Luca Dansik, Ja Morant and Trey Young have no experience or help yet to make a legitimate push.
With a team led by 24-year-old Jason Tatum and 25-year-old Jailan Brown, the Celtics are almost there, with two of the best individual scorers and defenders competing to beat a team with experience as the Golden State.
The Celtics won two of their last two home games, just 6-6 at home in the playoffs. In the end, they just looked tired, never enduring the physically demanding playoff run. Tatum in particular appeared to be under superstar pressure under this level, scoring only 36 per cent of his shots in the finals.
Maybe the Celtics can come back here, but this is no guarantee. It’s been as wide open as the NBA has been for a while and we can enter an era where the door revolves around teams competing for the title based on health, luck and who is playing well at the right time.
This is a huge advantage for teams that know how to win – teams like the Warriors, who have been mostly together over the past decade, have retained a muscular memory of how difficult it was to chase championships.
At the end of the day, it makes a difference to the Golden State, which is not juggling in the classic sense, but most importantly has all the answers.
These are not two great teams in the finals, but each title is the same. If the NBA were now in a period where these defective teams could win the title, experience could be just a separator. In a league with so many great players and a promising future, the present still belongs to the Warriors.
Follow Dan Volken on Twitter Danvolken.