BOSTON — Very, very early on in the “Saturday Night Live” series, there was a skit featuring the late John Belushi as an oblivious guest at Bill Murray and Jane Curtin’s house who didn’t know or care. later and later.
“Well, we’re glad you got through,” Murray said yawning to Belushi, “but it’s getting pretty late, and we’d better go to bed now.”
Belushi starts flipping through their albums. “Don’t you have any other documents than these?” he asks. “I think I’ll borrow this one.”
Curtin shouts as the off-screen announcer intones: It came without warning. They were just polite. Little did they know they would be stuck with…
THE THING THAT DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE!
Years later, in 2018, in the first moments after his team’s third NBA championship in four years, Golden State general manager Bob Myers was asked how he hoped the Warriors’ regular-season trips would be as fresh than their championship hoped. results.
“You have to love yourself,” he said then. “You must really love yourself. You have to respect yourself. You have to understand that some days you don’t have it, and your teammates have to pick you up. It’s the guest who stays too long. You try to find people who are decent people at the worst times. Sometimes you just need space. And it’s nobody’s fault. You must be yelling at yourself; you have to tell yourself how you feel. There is acrimony, there is division, there is everything.
“But as long as you don’t break. You have to see it almost as a family – that no matter what happens, we are blood and we are going to see it through. But it’s a challenge because you’re really not blood, but you’re as close as possible, because you’re with each other all the time. Sometimes you see more people than your own family. So you try to find people who are decent people in the worst times, that’s all you can do. Because the worst times are coming.
And that was four years ago!
At the time, Myers had no idea Kevin Durant would walk, that he would have to trade Andre Iguodala to help pay him, or that Klay Thompson would tear an ACL in a futile Warriors title defense against Toronto in 2019. . , or that Thompson would rip his Achilles a year later, that 15-50 would be a true Warriors regular season record, or that Draymond Green would lose his temper as the losses piled up, or that the Dubs would have to absorb D ‘ Angelo Russell is going to take a leaflet about Andrew Wiggins.
And there was that $80 million in payroll and luxury taxes for Kelly Oubre. (Not a knock on Oubre, who is a solid kid and a good player. Sometimes things just don’t work out, you know?)
But everything happened. Although much of the core of the team seemed to be on the wrong side of 30 to fight for championships. There were the Suns and Clippers and LeBron and Denver and Utah and Memphis and Luka out West, all starving, all looking to keep the Warriors from getting back to the top.
But here they are, again.
—NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2022
In a year where the NBA basically said “you know, we’re kind of done with COVID-19” and more or less got back to normal, it’s only fitting that the Warriors are, once again, back to the top, refusing to leave.
Hall of Famer Chris Webber has this great saying about championship teams. Often they are not the most talented or the best trained. They’re just, usually, the most stubborn.
“We’re very stubborn,” Green said Thursday after Golden State won its fourth NBA title since 2015, beating Boston 103-90 in Game 6. fist in the mouth. And that takes an incredible amount of resilience, togetherness and trust in one another.
Stubbornness was at the heart of mine from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant. No matter how much they earned, they were never satisfied, never satisfied. And they never, ever turned down a seemingly unfortunate idea in search of more payoff. Detroit, in full defense of its championship, establishing Dennis Rodman in front of Mark Aguirre? Sure.
Houston, looking to get a second ring, trading for the aging Clyde Drexler? Do it. Chicago rings Rodman, a known Bulls hater, in Second City to relaunch a second hat-trick? Why not? San Antonio, bringing Stephen Jackson back for a second tour after burning just about every bridge in town, for more wins? Absolutely.
What if that means Stephen Curry, who treated his sprained foot early in the playoffs, comes off the bench so Jordan Poole can start? Done and done.
The Warriors, like the great championship teams that came before them, are a stubborn bunch.
“I love that word,” Curry said. “The stories you hear about this season, especially the previous two years, when we had the worst record in the league and a lot of injuries and then scratched and clawed ourselves, trying to get into the Play tournament- In, just to get a playoff spot. We definitely had that mentality and that belief and faith in what we could do. We kept saying that all year – our championship DNA. And leadership myself, Draymond, Andre, Loon (Kevon Looney), Klay. It all mattered.
“And you carry this for three years, not knowing how it will end. All you can do is control that belief, and behind the scenes how you present yourself each day, you embody it. And then, when the time comes to take advantage of an opportunity, things click into place.
Warriors no longer immolate their opponents with the Splash Brothers best shot or choke with the original Death Lineup. They kind of got their original core, two-way, next-gen team working. James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody didn’t break through in regular rotational minutes in the streak, but they got a taste. Poole was an erratic and irreplaceable bridge between the old guard and the young guns. Thompson finally returned to the floor after missing more than 700 days of rehabilitation. Steve Kerr and his team may have done their best coaching job in this championship run.
It’s not that everything or everyone worked. Not Kent Bazemore. Oubre did not. And Golden State didn’t have Patty Mills, who signed with Brooklyn. But they fell into the right gear in the playoffs, their defense stifling again, as Wiggins became a revelation guarding Boston’s Jayson Tatum.
“I intend to own this team for a long time,” co-owner Joe Lacob said on the TD Garden floor, “and I intend to win as many championships as possible. It’s about winning That’s it. That’s all I care about. We’re going to do whatever it takes. The truth is, we’ve got some really smart people working in this organization, and we’re generally going to understand that and be really good. I mean, we still had great players coming back (after the 15-50 season). And we believed in the Wiggins deal. I know a lot of people didn’t. But we thought that he would fit. We needed to get all of our players back. Really, we didn’t get everyone back before the playoffs this year. Eleven minutes of what we’ve been trying to put together for the last few years. Steph got injured. All those guys were injured.
If Curry was injured again when Al Horford fell on his leg in the final moments of Game 3, he didn’t show it much afterwards. But his face dissolved in the closing seconds of Game 6 as tears streamed down his face. He’s the go-to man – “Steph, ultimately, that’s why this run happened,” Kerr said – and one of the greatest winners in league history. And he’s just as competitive and greedy as his predecessors, who dominated the league as he, once again, does.
“Two months ago I was injured,” Curry said. “We were slipping into the defensive rating. We kind of limped our way to the playoffs. And we made it clear that we had to peak at the right time – not knowing what our rotation would look like, not knowing what our chemistry would look like, because that’s what the situation called for. And too bad if we didn’t. It’s crazy to think about it. All these talks have paid off. Manifest your destiny in some way, and that stubbornness about who we are matters more than what anyone says about us. That’s why we are here.
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(Photo of Steph Curry and Jordan Poole celebrating: Kyle Terada/USA Today)