If Friday night’s 122-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers truly was the end of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty, there’s little for fans to mourn.
Elimination at Crypto.com Arena, surrounded by cheering Laker fans as streamers fell from the rafters, was an unceremonious end to an unforgettable decade of basketball. It’s an unfitting conclusion to what’s otherwise been a tremendous run.
If this really is the end, and Draymond Green goes to the highest bidder this offseason, the door will close on a run that included four championships and two more NBA Finals appearances. Friday’s defeat marked the first time the Warriors have lost a playoff series to a Western Conference opponent since 2014.
Complain about the officiating if you must. Lament that Andrew Wiggins was playing through a fractured rib. But it’s hard to be too upset considering what Warriors fans have been treated to since Steve Kerr took over as head coach on May 14, 2014.
A team that was an afterthought for decades, that was only known nationally for poor defense, became the center of the basketball universe. Stephen Curry’s jersey can be spotted around the globe. Heck, even when the Warriors stumbled, things worked out. The collapse in the 2016 NBA Finals was humiliating, but it opened the door for Kevin Durant to come to the Warriors and for the team to win two more titles.
Take your pick of moments throughout this run. The novelty of the 2015 championship, the ascension into a super team, the arrival of Durant to supplement a loaded homegrown core and the 2022 championship after two lean years, fueled by a resurgent and finally healthy Klay Thompson.
The biggest problems Warriors fans now confront are debating between which championship shirt and hat to wear to a game. Yes, the influx of bandwagon fans was annoying, and the rise in ticket prices put a strain on longtime fans, but those are the side effects of unprecedented success.
These Warriors teams will live on in the annals of history, and fans will be able to debate their greatness against the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Lakers dynasties. Friday’s game may not have been the graceful ride into the sunset that this team deserved, but most fans would happily trade a gentle ending for any of the four championship parades.
And even if Green is out the door, that doesn’t guarantee the end of the Warriors. As Stephen Curry showed in Game 7 against Sacramento, he can take over a game all by himself.