Dynasties are like relationships. You don’t realize it’s over until it’s too late.
We saw it happen with the Giants, who seemed destined to stay atop the major leagues for years to come, following three championships in five years. Young, homegrown talent up and down the lineup. Same on the mound. It sure felt like it would last forever. But it didn’t. (Of course, they finally bounced back this past summer, winning a remarkable 107 regular season games and revisiting the postseason.)
The Harbaugh Niners were no dynasty, but they had the makings of one. Those teams were stacked two-deep at almost every position, with draft picks stockpiled for years to come. But they shot to the top, then fizzled quick. Again, the rebuild took longer than anyone wanted, but the 49ers are back in striking position.
Now, the Warriors find themselves staring down Father Time, who remains undefeated, untested and untried. This was one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Arguably the second best in Bay Area history, behind the Bill Walsh Niners. But after winning three championships in five years, they’ve suffered two seasons of epic interruptus and it’s hard to say if the magic is coming back.
It sure looked like it for a minute. Eleven minutes to be exact. That’s how long Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were able to play together in a game last week. It was the first time the big three had done so in nearly three years. And the results were indeed magical. Back-door cuts. Smart screens. Drained shots and high fives. If you closed your eyes, it could’ve been 2017.
But it’s not. It’s 2022. The fellas are older. Just ask their bodies. Curry, who’s been relatively indestructible for years after suffering ankle issues early in his career, went down with a strained ligament in his left foot. And all that looked golden turned sour.
It’s anyone’s guess if the two-time MVP will return for the playoffs. And if he does, will his mobility be hampered? Curry’s optimistic, but that’s his nature. He’s also bummed, which is rare.
“It was a rough 48 hours, just thinking about that when I got hurt,” said Curry this week. “It’s been a 1,005 days since me, Klay and Draymond have played. We were all, ‘Oh, that’s great. We’re all back together.’ … Then I get hurt. So, it’s frustrating for sure.”
Curry acknowledged that he and his championship compadres have been struggling to stay healthy, each enduring a variety of injuries. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. These men are champions for a reason, and Curry believes in his crew.
“We’ve all been in our own kind of rehab journeys, and injuries, trying to get back out there on the floor,” he said. “What I have confidence in is that we know each other so well (that) when we do get healthy, we can pick up wherever we left off and understand how to be effective.”
Throw in the fact that second-year center James Wiseman has suffered another setback to his own knee rehabilitation, what looked to be a very bright scenario just one week ago has certainly turned dark.
Consider these numbers. So far this season, Curry has missed seven games. Golden State went 2–5. Over the past three campaigns, the Warriors went 18–58 without Curry. Over the course of his career, the team is just 61–125 when he doesn’t suit up.
Head coach Steve Kerr will have to mix and match his lineups over the last 10 games of the season to see what works, hopefully retaining intensity and playoff ranking, which is currently third in the Western Conference. He wasn’t too pleased with the team’s effort after a loss to the Spurs Sunday night.
“We have to understand we’re undermanned,” said Kerr, who was steaming after two ridiculous calls at the end of the game basically handed San Antonio the win. “There’s got to be a sense of urgency. There’s got to be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team … from the start.”
You don’t have to worry about that when Green’s on the court. Even after Curry got injured last week, he guaranteed the Warriors would win a championship. You gotta love the guy for his heart and soul. He should keep the team on point while No. 30 is out.
“It’s a great test for our guys to finish the season strong,” said Curry, who hopes to be back for the first game of the playoffs. “Whenever I can get back out there, hopefully it’s a smooth transition. I like the thought of where we’re at when we’re healthy. Hopefully we’ll have fresh legs, and bodies and minds to take on that playoff chase.”
We’ll see. The clock is ticking.
Editor’s note: The Arena, a column from The Examiner’s Al Saracevic, explores San Francisco’s playing field, from politics and technology to sports and culture. Send your tips, quips and quotes to firstname.lastname@example.org.