OAKLAND — Now inevitability was about to become reality. Fewer than four minutes remained, and the crowd, at first hesitant, then triumphant, as the Warriors would in a short, glorious time Monday night, let loose, turning the building once more from the Oracle into the “Roaracle,” a place where winners reside.
“Warr-rriors, Warr-rriors, Warr-rriors,” they chanted loudly enough to be heard from Salinas to Sonoma — a gleeful, repetitive salute to the NBA’s once and newest champions, the team that was just short of playoff perfection but long on brilliance and success.
Yes, the Dubs regained the title they let slip away a year ago, grabbing it from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that 12 months earlier took it from them, in a 129-120 victory.
The Triology this series was called, the third-consecutive finals meeting between the Warriors, winners in 2015, and the Cavs, winners in 2016. But this one, taken four-games-to-one, was singular, with MVPs and subplots and perhaps a hint of a dynasty.
The Warriors’ third championship overall since moving to the Bay Area from Philadelphia in 1961, was their first on a home court — and a court that moments after the final buzzer was impassable, full of celebrating players, family members and TV announcers.
The Dubs’ title in 1975 came at Capital Centre near Washington. D.C., and in ’15 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Giants’ three World Series victories all were won on the road. The last Northern Cal team to become champ in a game played in Northern Cal was the 1974 Oakland A’s.
The Dubs, after getting blown out Friday night in Cleveland, after losing the opportunity, unlikely and unprecedented as it was, to pound through the post-season 16-0, came out Monday and fell behind. Would there be another failure like last year?
Not at all. The Dubs trailed, 43-39, there was 7:25 left in the second quarter, and boom. The Warriors scored 15 straight points in two minutes, 45 seconds and never trailed again.
The main man was KD, Kevin Durant, who ended up with 39 points and the finals MVP award.
“We had the title taken from us last year,” said Draymond Green, the Dubs’ emotional leader, “and KD was the consolation prize.”
Warriors management signed Durant, a former league MVP, last July to fill a gap. They needed a man in the middle who could score. He needed a championship.
Everybody got what they needed.
What the Cavs got was the expected fantastic performance from LeBron games, 41 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists. He’s been there, done that, a season ago helping the Cavs win the first championship in any sport for Cleveland in 52 years, earning the MVP. But this time it was the Dubs.
This time it was Durant. It was Stephen Curry, who scored 34. It was Andre Iguodala, finals MVP in 15, who off the bench had 20 points. It was Steve Kerr, the coach who returned for the last three games. It was assistant Mike Brown who took over for Kerr who missed time with that painful spine injury.
So much talent, but at the start of the season so many questions whether Durant could play with Curry, whether Klay Thompson could play with Durant, and who would play the defense on which the Warriors set up their offense?
”These guys are so committed,” said Kerr, “that it was no problem. People said I had to use Kevin Durant. That was not hard. I’m not sure there was that much of a story about our guys not being able to co-exist.”
They co-existed in championship fashion.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.