Reflecting on a decade of excellence - and occasional pain
I’ve been lucky enough to witness a revolution that has dismantled old orthodoxies
I don’t know how to start this so I’m just going to say it.
Over the last ten years the Golden State Warriors have given me so much joy. Their rise has opened doors I never thought possible and introduced me to new friends on the other side of the world.
So as I fire up the trade machine on a daily basis, or reach for the pitchforks in the slack chat as another 20 point lead melts down, I just try to remember only five franchises in NBA history have ever won more than three championships in their entire history. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls who only ever won with Michael Jordan, the San Antonio Spurs, who only ever won with Tim Duncan, and our very own Golden State Warriors, who have of course won four rings alone in the Steph Curry-Draymond Green-Klay Thompson-Steve Kerr era.
No other franchise has more than three. The Nuggets just won their first ring ever. The Bucks, who won the year before the Warriors last magical championship run, had 50 years between rings. Heck, the Warriors had a 40 year drought before they got back to the NBA mountain top in 2015.
No other franchise in the modern NBA has been to 5 consecutive finals.
No other franchise in the entirety of NBA history has won 73 games, perhaps the most incredible thing I have seen from a basketball team, and a feat that I know will forever be underrated.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness a revolution that has dismantled old orthodoxies, changing the way my favourite sport is played forever, to something altogether more beautiful, skillful, and brilliant than I could ever have imagined.
When world events were just too bleak, the Warriors were my joyful escape.
I’ve seen possibly the greatest collection of talent ever put together in the Hamptons 5.
They’ve done it with a smile on their faces, led by Steph Curry’s unique mix of joy and humility, all while being a stone cold killer on the court, and Klay Thompson’s steely defense and insane eruptions. They’ve done it with a scowl on their faces with Draymond Green’s fire and fury and unparalleled defensive IQ and versatility at the absolute heart of this run, still underrated by too many today. All three of them, lest we forget, drafted and developed by this franchise.
They’ve done it with savvy veteran intelligence, led by Andre Iguodala, one of the most unique individuals to play in the NBA. And they’ve done it with just unbelievable levels of star power, adding Kevin Durant and his graceful, effortless game to elevate this whole thing to the stratosphere.
They’ve had strength in numbers with Shaun Livingston, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Mo Buckets, Festus Ezeli then David West, Javale McGee, and Zaza Pachulia. They got Matt Barnes a ring, scoring one for the We Believe legends. They’ve even gotten one for Nick Young. Jordan Bell dunked off the backboard and gave us all irrationally good feelings. Only five franchises have more rings than Patrick McCaw (though let’s not talk about that last one).
16-1. 28 series with a road win. 402 3s. 37 in a quarter. 24-0 start. Take your pick. Insane records, all of them, and yet mere footnotes in this dynastic excellence.
And when it all fell to pieces in a flurry of catastrophic injuries, but not before Klay Thompson walked back down that tunnel to take those free throws, they rose from the ashes to win another one. They drafted and developed new champs in Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole. They rehabilitated Andrew Wiggins from the most toxic contract in the NBA to the second best player on a championship team. They brought in another crop of savvy vets with Otto Porter Jr leading the way. They plucked Gary Payton II off the NBA scrapheap. Oakland’s own, JTA lived the dream. Damian Lee proved he was an NBA player in his own right. Nemanja Bjelica somehow d-ed up Jokic and Tatum. The whole thing was polished off by a returning Iguodala grabbing the game ball for Steph, finally a Finals MVP.
And for me personally, as a kid growing up in a small English city known only for it’s University and certainly not for anything to do with basketball, I could never have imagined where it’s taken me. I was so excited in the summer of 2017 when the blogfather Nate P took me in as part of a new crop at the incredible community of writers and commentators at GSoM, so many of whom are here now. I got to meet the whole Duby clan and noted author and scholar Dr Tom in my then home-town of London.
I couldn’t believe it when Forbes came calling at the end of that season. I covered my first NBA game that season in London, before setting out on an incredible trip to the Bay Area to cover the 2019 playoff series against the Rockets where Nate, award-winning journalist Daniel Hardee, and DubNation legend Duby Dub Dubs showed me so much love. Friends for life.
I interviewed Hall-of-Fame Executives, players, and owners. I was in the room with Michael Jordan when he made a rare public appearance in the NBA’s return to Paris. If you’d told 13 year-old me, obsessed with Jordan and the NBA throughout my youth I genuinely don’t know what I’d have done.
When world events were just too bleak, the Warriors were my joyful escape. When the pandemic came, basketball writing gave me an outlet.
When my son arrived in late 2021 and I hung up my pen, I was lucky enough to just be a fan once again. With my beautiful child snuggly sleeping on my chest, I saw Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson lay waste to the NBA once again, capping it all off. Daniel and Duby have been good enough to welcome my thoughts on the pod occasionally, allowing me to keep a toe in the water.
I don’t know what comes next. This is already messy. But as long as Steph Curry can be the best player on a championship team, and Draymond Green can captain a championship-level defense (for which I do recognise he will have to stay on the court!) I personally retain hope. There is a crop of exciting youngsters in Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Podz, and TJD, some of whom may or may not survive the current turbulence.
All things end eventually, and rarely when you want or in the way you want. One thing I do know though is I won’t let whatever comes next cloud something so magical.