What looked to the outside world like domination or an easy ride to a third championship in three seasons looked totally different from the inside. Sure, the Golden State Warriors are back-to-back champions now, so they can say whatever they want about the road to their latest title. But if you listen to what they are saying, and we're talking about from ownership all the way down, this fourth straight run to the final day of the season was the most grueling yet.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who experienced similar runs with both the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs as a player, warned before the season that the organization had no idea how difficult it would be. His words proved prophetic as the Warriors lost the No. 1 seed to Houston, dealt with an assortment of injuries during the regular season and seemed disinterested at times during the regular season. It was, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reports, a long, strange ride for the Warriors this season:
The Warriors opened the playoffs without Curry due to a knee injury and didn’t get him back until the second round. Golden State trailed 3-2 against the Rockets in the Western Conference finals before rebounding to win on the road in a deciding Game 7. The Warriors might have lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals at home if not for a missed free throw by Cavaliers guard George Hill that was compounded by a last-second mistake in regulation by Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson said: “Going through the season, going down 3-2 in Houston, that wasn’t fun. Game 1 against these guys [Cleveland] was tough, too.”
When Warriors general manager Bob Myers went into the locker room after winning the crown, he immediately went looking for the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy, saying he needed a picture with the hard-earned hardware. Myers described the entire season as “challenging.”
“Maybe it looked easy to you, but it was hard,” Myers said. “The record wasn’t as good as the last couple of years. Steve said before the season that this would be our toughest one ever. And it really was. We staggered into the playoffs coming off that blowout loss to Utah.
“We were not a one seed. We had never been a two seed. We had to win a Game 7 on the road. We had some injuries. Just the wear and tear of trying to do it four [straight] times in the Finals. But they stepped up at the end. The players got it done. It was a credit to them.”
Myers added that the Warriors “bent but we never broke” this title season. Asked about West’s comments, Myers said: “Well, I will let David be the one [to say it].”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said Kerr’s contract extension will get completed this offseason. A celebratory Kerr said his cigar “tasted like victory.”
“Shout-out to Steve Kerr for dealing with all our B.S. this year,” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said.