For one night, the Rockets show the NBA isn’t ruined by Super Dubs
OAKLAND — It might be a familiar feeling, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular. Some seven years after Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob promised to make the franchise champions, there he was on the same floor where he was once booed mercilessly.
This time, he didn’t say a word as — for the second time in three years under his ownership — a title banner was unveiled in the rafters of Oracle Arena.
And how could we forget? They still have a really big team and they still need some really big rings.
The ring, weighing in at 11 carats — the largest championship ring in any of the major pro sports, naturally — holds a combined 67 blue sapphires and white diamonds to represent each regular-season win. It also has five trophies on it, one for each Warriors title in franchise history.
As he predicted earlier in the day at shootaround, Kevin Durant shed no tears as he received his first ring. The players marveled at their new jewelry, but they weren’t overwhelmed by what it meant.
It was a business-as-usual approach, which makes sense when you consider how many more of these nights they intend on having in the coming years.
Before the game, Steve Kerr was asked how he’s preparing his players for the pitfalls of being the prohibitive favorites. As he often does, the head coach put things in perspective by referencing the injury suffered by Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward earlier in the night.
“This stuff is so fragile,” he said. “… You can put yourself in the best position to succeed and win and you go for it, but there are so many things that can happen.”
The game began and, thanks to an early flurry of points from Klay Thompson and Nick Young, dreams of a perfect season seemed to realize in front of the sold-out crowd.
But this is the NBA. Nothing is ever that simple.
Draymond Green, the emotional drive of the team, left the game due to a “tweaked left knee” before the beginning of the fourth quarter with his team ahead, 101-88. Over the next 12 minutes, the Warriors slowly gave that lead back, setting up a must-convert possession with a little more than 10 seconds remaining.
“When you’re lacking conditioning, like we are right now, you have to have your high-energy guys out there,” Kerr said afterward. “As soon as [Green] went out of the game, things went south for us.”
But, don’t worry: Kevin Durant hit what appeared to be the game winner to ensure the night wasn’t ruined. Except it was after the buzzer and for the second year in a row, the supposedly invincible Warriors were stunned by a team from Texas in the season opener.
That’s just life in the predictable NBA, where all the results are predetermined and the regular season is a farce.
If only — somehow, someway — there could be some entertainment when the Warriors play.