We got history: Looney, and the long confidence game
Reflecting on a Warriors dynasty and the players and people that make it all mean so much
Kevon Looney was incredible. A perfect 4 points and 20 rebounds on a day that caused even Andre Iguodala to notice. The Golden State Warriors needed a win over the Sacramento Kings to bring the series back under control, but were going to have to do it without Draymond Green (suspension) and Gary Payton - who was a late scratch due to an illness. Stephen Curry was his reliable, phenomenal self, and it was more than enough to put away the Sacramento Kings. Curry had 36 points, Wiggins 20. Appearances by Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga gave the team a boost just when it was needed most. Almost like there was some sort of plan in place or something.
Now it’s game four. Another pretty much must win game for a team that will be getting back into their bag of miracles and hoping to even the series before it heads back into Sacramento on Wednesday.
Can the Warriors do it again? Absolutely. Never ever forget who we are talking about, when it comes to this core. The Warriors, and their fans, are a confident bunch - but it’s a confidence that is backed up by years and years of success under the brightest lights.
Warriors trail Kings in series, 1-2
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings
WHEN: Sunday, April 23rd, 2023 // 12:30 PST ← Day game!
A great time out - a journey to Chase, and through the time lense
I got dropped off on the other side of the block before Daniel and I met up at Federation, one of the best local breweries (in my well-researched opinion). For those that don’t know the area, it gets real industrial real quick a few blocks away from Jack London, the closed warehouses and empty delivery pallets stacked safely behind huge roll-down steel gates. Apparently there was a fire here, and neighboring business were heavily boarded up and closed. It looked bad enough that the Lyft driver literally turned his whole body around to look me in the eye and verbally confirm that this was where I wanted to get out. There was a lady with a bad neck tattoo and a car that looked at me as I exited. “Can you help push my car? My reverse is broken.” I wasn’t strong enough to move it and told her so - there was a bit of a hill into the spot she was parked in - but she got out and together we managed to roll the massive thing back a few feet so she could drive out.
Later, just three city blocks removed from that, there was a glorious line of Warriors fans stretched out in the warm sun waiting for the Ferry to depart for San Francisco. Daniel and I are hard to miss. Twelve and a half feet of massive Warriors fandom decked out in a serious array of schwag. Daniel gifted me a thick-linked Warriors medallion. Cheap foam and poorly constructed links that fell apart comically. I think I even converted it to a shorter necklace for a while. I loved it.
He had the belt, of course.
Some strangers in the line for the ferry came over to congratulate me on my Andris Biedrins jersey.
I really love this entire community. The online discourse that I had to find because nobody in my regular life wanted to debate Curry versus Monta, or the merits of what a bargain Kevon Looney was when he signed both of his last two contracts. And then of course, riding into this game on a boat like Klay Thompson would have wanted, the conversations around this team and this dynasty were amazing.
“Winning is messy, if you want to be honest about it,” Myers said earlier this week at the news conference to discuss Draymond’s suspension. “The last 12 years are not perfect. Or 10 years or however long I’ve been doing this. There’s an edginess to it. There’s a tension.
So when I find real life friends like Daniel and Nate - guys that have survived in the trenches with me writing through the highs and lows of the ride that being a Warriors fan has been - there’s a real deep connection. Author’s note: Apricot was invited but couldnt make it. He was missed.
But you don’t need to know each other all that well for these conversations. We hung out with the guys from the line on the ferry ride. Huddled out of the wind on a lovely sunny day, we got to talking about being a season ticket holder back when it was affordable. These guys had one friend that climbed the ladder high enough to be able to swing however many thousands of dollars it took to transfer over to Chase. Games that were at first difficult to even give away, much less sell.
But man, you want to talk timelines? Watch the energy drain out of everyone when Mike Dunleavy and Joe Smith come up as two of your favorite team’s use of high draft picks… maybe Wiseman wasn’t that bad of a gamble. Things are certainly not all that bad right now.
The Warriors have now done the impossible multiple times. The first championship was totally unexpected, but felt oh so right. Then we spent years being treated to what was arguably the best roster of basketball players ever assembled on one NBA team. A juggernaut that grabbed two trophies in three seasons and broke records all over the place. Finally topping it all off with that “what are they gonna say now” championship run last year with a stripped down roster and a core that was ready to remind the world that they still haven’t been all beaten together in a playoff series.
“Hey fuckers,” I call out. I’m walking fast. We are just coming off the ferry ride and there’s a group of about five Kings fans just in front that I need to say something to.
They turn as one. I point at the guy closest to me and say, “I hope you all have a really great time in there and that people are nice to you.” Whatever tension there was melts. An ice breaker that could have maybe gone wrong but was still funny enough to me to be worth the risk. It was their first game at Chase. They had been Kings fans for years and were just happy to be there, no matter what happened. We talked about how rad it was to see your team finally make it back into the playoffs after so long.
We parted on good terms as I peeled off to meet back up with Daniel - we had gotten separated by the crowd. Wishing them well on the night, I waved and said with a smile “I hope you all lose.”
Can the Warriors defend their unlikely title? It sure didn’t look like it for most of the season. The Warriors wobbled their way to a finish in the middle of the pack, but have endured long barren patches of road losses and head-scratchingly dumb unforced errors.
But talking to my good friends at the game, and some random strangers, there was a ton of belief in what this team is capable of. Even if they lost, would you still really totally rule them out from coming back from an 0-3 deficit?
And when you look at the on/off splits for the series so far, what stands out to me is how thoroughly the Warriors have deweaponized the Kings most potential weapons. De’Aaron Fox is -12 over the first three games, Harrison Barnes (who dunked all over Klay earlier in Sacramento to help tone set) is a lowly -28. Sabonis also a minus 28. More importantly, Looney is able to stay home and alone against the Kings pass-happy center - he averaged a career-high 7.3 assists per game this season; but has just 10 assists total over the first three games.
I remember talking to Daniel about not being able to start writing a recap with time on the clock. Down 10 with ten seconds left? Hold on. You never know.
And so we yelled like crazy people all night. We watched as Looney became the Stephen Curry of rebounding. His ability to box out and then know exactly which angle to take and when to jump were godly. Moses Moody won the crowd over. It wasn’t hard, because one of the weirdest issues all season was what a tight rope Moody had been on. Maybe Kerr saw this was the path and prioritized discipline and composure in a young man that seemed to play a larger in the prior season but was largely out of the picture throughout the regular season.
It was a work night. Nate had to show up late and leave right away, so we mostly just yelled at each other and smiled a lot. My voice is a wreck. Thank god I’m not a singer. I’m just some guy with a keyboard. My eyes and these fingertips have consumed and spit out immeasurable hours worth of Warriors basketball, and somehow I still love it, I’m still hungry for more.
Even if things go wrong, and there are drastic changes in the future, I think my fandom will survive.
But we aren’t there yet.
This team is still right in the middle of the dynasty fight for yet another title to add to their legacy. It goes through Sacramento this time, but Golden State has driven through a lot worse before and come out the other side.
Chase Center will be slightly less loud without us, but will see a second consecutive win for the home team. Draymond Green is coming back angry and focused, and the Warriors sauce may not be much of a secret anymore, but it’s still a potent magic.