It was a weird feeling watching that final fourth quarter unfold during Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
I was sitting in my living room having a bunch of friends over to watch the game. One of them was a Cleveland native. The others were all for Los Angeles who were Lakers fans. I didn’t really care much about how they felt.
But it took me back as the game went back and forth and the Warriors lost their lead. I had a flashback to all the early years of my fandom of the Warriors and how a deficit would devastate me. That the end was inevitable and the Warriors had no chance of coming back.
That could have derailed me. But I also had a sense of calm.
Oh how the times have changed.
I grew up watching this Warriors team never believing that they could ever be the top dog. The years of horrible draft picks during the 1990s became normal. Then the years of realizing no big free agent would want to sign here was also just an accepted fact. And hey, the Warriors were just never going to be good.
Yet in only a matter of a few seasons, the Warriors were the top dog. They win a championship. They have the league MVP. They are the talk of the league. Yet all of that was still cool with me because the Warriors did this organically. Pulling off trades. Signing players that were discarded. Building through the draft.
This team to me was a team that had to fight and claw for survival. And they did that leading up to this recent run.
Now Kevin Durant changes all of it.
The Golden State Warriors had everything in place for them to win the NBA Finals. They had the all-time record. They had the unanimous MVP. They survived the Thunder. Everything pointed out to them winning the championship again.
But they didn’t.
This is what makes sports so interesting. The Cleveland Cavaliers were poised to write their own history and against all odds, won the final three games to take that title. The city of Cleveland, a city I have visited and enjoyed, deserve a champion and I am glad that they get to celebrate. It sucks that they did it on behalf of my team, but the Warriors had their chance and lost.
It can be said that the league was under some conspiracy to suspend Draymond Green for Game 5 and have some sketchy officiating for Game 6. Regardless, the Warriors are better than that. They played well enough to win Game 7 but the Cavaliers matched them.
They aren’t losers anymore. The San Jose Sharks no longer have to bear the weight and burden of the struggles in years past. In their 25th year, they are finally going to the Stanley Cup Final.
You can take a look back at how this team had the President’s Trophy but didn’t win the championship. Or even the time where they were underachieving every time they were predicted to win it all. Or even the sour taste from two years ago when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the rival Los Angeles Kings.
And in a year when they weren’t even considered a favorite with a new head coach, they now have a great chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Throughout this entire journey watching the Warriors play ball this season, I still remain in awe of this team. I still am wrapping my head around the fact that the Warriors won the championship last year. All those years being a fan of a team that couldn’t do anything right is still lingering on. I keep thinking that my team was incapable of winning.
But they won last year. They won it all. Now this year, not only are they even playing better, but they are setting records. The big record is within their reach. But tying the 1995-96 Bulls with 72 wins is a season is still mind-blowing. That Bulls team was so good. They had Michael, Scottie, Dennis and coach Phil. That team was amazing and untouchable.
I look at this Warriors team and I can see that in 10 years time, we could be comparing some of the players to the legends of the game. Right now, Stephen Curry already has established himself as a once-in-a-lifetime talent. This team, winning 72 games puts them in the discussion of greatest teams of all time.
All they have to do is win on Wednesday at home against Memphis. Then, they have to win the NBA Finals once again.
This news didn’t come as a surprise as we saw Kobe Bryant fall apart and become a bandaged player that he once was. His shots were falling short and his mobility was limited. He has given his body everything he could in 20 years of basketball and this has become a sad ending to a storied career.
But I don’t care.
As much as I know and understand how great of a basketball player he is, I honestly don’t have any feelings toward this news or anything else right. I knew it was sad when his decline began a few years ago, but now it just feels like it’s been dragged out.
Growing up in the Bay Area as a Warriors fan, perception of basketball was different than the rest of the world. I wasn’t used to seeing my team win. I wasn’t used to seeing great superstars come through Oakland and staying. I didn’t think my team was good enough and they weren’t. I always had to look up at the Lakers and see them winning all the time and I didn’t like it. And Kobe Bryant was a big part of that. So in an essence, I didn’t like him. Continue reading
Patience is hard to come by when you’re a fan of a franchise that has struggled to reach the top for 40 years. It’s hard to believe that something good can happen when everything wrong has happened. I didn’t think that the enduring pain of seeing the Warriors falter for so many years would go away.
Yet tonight, all that pain and suffering was washed away. Just like that.
Being a Warriors fan wasn’t easy growing up. I was in first grade when I mimicked my first basketball player. That was Chris Mullin. I thought the Warriors were the best. But in the following years, we would see bad trades, bad coaches and bad play. Yet I stuck with them. I didn’t know any better. But I knew that they were the team I fell in love with first and I would stick with them. They were my home team. They represented me. I represented them.