In the end, everything was as it should be: Draymond Green ran his mouth, and Riley Curry made adorable demands to pose with the trophy (“My turn”). Klay Thompson shared a hug with his father, Mychal, now that they both had NBA championship rings, and Stephen Curry was surrounded by an immediate family — including his own father, Dell, an NBA veteran who’d never gotten a ring of his own — that’s now been elevated to the status of Bay Area royalty.
This was the team we’d come to know all season, one of the most personable and successful squads in NBA history, and even their celebration after Tuesday night’s Finals-clinching victory in Game 6 in Cleveland was an endearing reflection of their character.
“We have a lot of different personalities,” said the series’ Most Valuable Player, Andre Iguodala. “Draymond’s loud. Klay’s quiet. Then we’ve got everything in between. But the common denominator is guys were really hungry to show what they can do individually, and then we really believed in our team as a group and what we could do.”
Nobody proved that more than Iguodala, who sacrificed his starting role at the beginning of the year for the good of the team, then got it back for the final three games of the year, while bodying up to and minimizing, as best as humanly possible, the damage done by a superhuman LeBron James — a moment Iguodala said he’d been preparing for throughout his entire 11-year career. And yet even Iguodala was nearly upstaged by his family afterward when his son, Andre Jr., dressed in a sportcoat his mother picked out for him, admitted to a camera crew that his dad was “getting buckets all day” but that he needed to work on his free-throw shooting (he went 4-of-10 in Game 6).
This was about fathers and sons — and mothers too, as Green proved when he shouted out to his mother, Doris Babers-Green, “Mom, they told me I can’t play in this league!”
“I mean, that’s what they said,” Green said later. “I won the National Player of the Year Award in college, consensus All-American. I made every single First Team All-American that you could possibly make, and I was a second-round pick, and a lot of people said I could never play in this league. Too slow, too small, can’t shoot well enough, can’t defend nobody. What does he do well? He doesn’t have a skill. I’ve got heart, and that’s what stands out. It was just one of those moments where it’s like I’ve always been doubted my entire life.”
Next to Green on the podium as he spoke those words was Shaun Livingston, the once-coveted and long-limbed guard who jumped to the NBA straight out of high school and then in 2007 suffered a knee injury so horrific that one medical professional fretted that his leg might have to be amputated. For years afterward, he bounced around the league, flitting between nine different teams (including one in the D-League), searching for a spot as a role player until he wound up becoming one of the Warriors’ key cogs off the bench.
“Everybody knows my journey,” an emotional Livingston said. “Similar to Draymond. People count you out, no belief … I’ve had two careers, really. It felt like two lives that I lived. To be here now as a world champion, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It makes the journey worth it.”
On Friday, this team will gather together in public one last time, for a 10 a.m. victory parade through Oakland. They will no doubt by joined by their family, by their mothers and fathers and sons and daughters, as they have been throughout this journey, and as their two star guards were last night in the aftermath of one of the greatest seasons in the history of Bay Area sports.
“I followed in his footsteps,” Curry said of his father. “I’ve talked about how impactful he’s been in my life, just being an example on and off the court of what a true professional is and how he raised me and my brother and my sister. So to be able to have that moment was special. He’s living through me and my teammates, and my whole family, through this whole journey. I hope it made him proud tonight.”