Wait ’til 2055?!
Well, since an NBA championship comes to the Bay Area every 40 years, it will be a while before the next parade rolls around, right?
Not so fast, Balls says. Or slow.
From good health to good luck, everything in the Warriors galaxy was in alignment this season. They had no serious injuries or petty jealousies to speak of. Somehow, they avoided the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs in the postseason, the two teams that figured to give him the most problems.
“It’s that easy, huh?” Tim Duncan texted Steve Kerr, his former teammate.
Logic says that no team can have so much good fortune two years in a row. Maybe so. But if there’s common thread for repeat champions, then it’s a franchise player, depth, leadership and stability. The Champs have all of them covered at the moment.
Stephen Curry is the best shotmaker the game, a legit superstar who became more comfortable on the NBA Finals stage as the series grew longer. He’s only 27 years old. Is it possible that we haven’t seen the best of him yet? Crystal Balls says the answer is yes.
In the likely event that Draymond Green re-ups and David Lee is traded this summer, nine core players will be under contract for next season, none older than 31. Even if Bob Myers is unable to add one more experienced piece — a mobile big, perhaps? — the Champs will bring back much the same group, only one year older and wiser.
So it may be the only ones who can beat the Warriors are the Warriors themselves. Once a team gets its first taste of the champagne, it tends to either get drunk on success or thirsty for more of it. Curry and Kerr seem like guys who want another round.
BEST IN WEST: So who dat gonna beaten dem Dubs in the Western Conference next season, anyway?
The Spurs will be another year older, their best days behind them. The young Oklahoma City Thunder figure to have a healthy Kevin Durant next time, and that’s a scary thought in itself. Still, Balls has serious doubts that a me-first point guard can take them to the championship round. (Yeah, Russell Westbrook, that means you!)
That leaves the Clippers, bless their little hearts. SoCal’s other team has an accomplished point guard and coach (Chris Paul, Doc Rivers) and a potential superstar on the way (Blake Griffin), among other things. What they don’t have is depth, however, and even if newcomer Lance Stephenson represents an upgrade, the Warriors still boast a considerable edge there.
Oh, the Clippers also acquired a new trademark for next season. Except that Jerry West is the only logo who’s good enough to beat the Warriors, and lucky for them, he’s a bit past his prime right now.
BEST-OF-THREE, ANYONE?: That’s leaves LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers as the only serious threat to the Warriors’ throne at the moment.
If the Cavaliers had been healthy, the Finals probably would have been a best-of-seven slugfest. Let’s not forget that Kyrie Irving rarely has been in one piece in his
career, and there’s no guarantee that he will be 11 months from now, either. There’s also the matter of Kevin Love and whether he’ll be back next season.
James desperately wants to bring a championship to Cleveland before he retires. But the guy is an old 30 in basketball years, and he can’t waste time now. Does he have faith that David Blatt can help him get it? Blatt was a coach out of water this postseason, and the candidate who should have gotten the job (assistant Tyronn Lue) is still around. If James has seen enough of Blatt — and it sure looks that way — don’t say that Balls didn’t warn you days ago.
Also don’t be surprised if the Cavaliers and the Warriors meet again next spring and maybe even once more after that. And wouldn’t that be a whole lotta fun?
L.A. WHO?: The Warriors broke a few barriers along the way, especially the one that said the NBA Finals couldn’t attract large numbers unless traditional big-market powers were front and center.
The Finals attracted nearly 20 million viewers for the first time since 1998, the last hurrah for Michael Jordan an the Chicago Bulls dynasty. And teams such as the Bulls and the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers were on the fairways when it happened.
The showcase event doesn’t need major markets to create a buzz around the country. Two highly competitive teams with two MVP-caliber players and a few good storylines will do just fine.
CURSE REVERSED: On June 9, 1980, when general manager Scotty Sterling traded future Hall of Famers Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to the Celtics in return for Rickey Brown and Joe Barely Cares (a.k.a. Joe Barry Carroll), the basketball gods sentenced the Warriors to decades of failure.
So when the Warriors beat McHale’s Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals, they were finally released from basketball Alcatraz, obviously.
THE LIST: Best things about the Warriors as NBA champions:
They proved that a bunch of nice guys can finish first, indeed.
Know the worn-out cliche “He’s a better person than he is a player”? In Curry’s case, it really does seem to be true. And when you consider that he’s the reigning Most Valuable Player, that says a lot.
They shut up Charles Barkley and Phil Jackson, one guy who never won an NBA title and another who can’t win the big one without a Michael Jordan or a Kobe Bryant on his side.
Younger fans learned about Rick Barry and the 1975 Warriors, who pulled off the greatest upset in NBA Finals history even if the league would never admit it.
Oakland has supported its share of crummy teams in three different sports over the years, and now its fans have the best one of all in their own backyard. Well, for a few more months, anyway.