We are two days removed from the conclusion of the 2019 NBA Finals and it is still hard to process. The Toronto Raptors are your 2019 NBA Champions, but more than that, they are the force that likely ended the run of the arguably the best team that we’ve seen in a decade that featured the back end of the Kobe Bryant led Lakers of the late 2000s, the Miami Heat Big 3, Dirk Nowitzki and a veteran Dallas Mavericks core, LeBron’s homecoming Cavs team, and the twilight years of the Spurs Big 3 led by a young thoroughbred in Kawai Leonard.
While all of those teams were great this decade, none stood out more than the Golden State Warriors of 2014-2019 which won championships with two different groups outside of the Big 3 of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Whether you were rooting for them or against them, the Golden State Warriors were an entertaining basketball team to watch that brought endless thrills. But unfortunately, it wasn’t until Game 5 of this year’s Finals that we got a chance to appreciate the heart and toughness of this team.
A closer look at Kevin Durant's right leg injury: pic.twitter.com/XEHPIn9wnW
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2019
After many Basketball fans and media pundits questioned whether KD should sit out to preserve his health for this summer’s free agency or to prove that this Warriors cast can’t win a championship without him, Durant displayed the heart of a true Warrior by putting it all on the line in Game 5 of the NBA Finals for 12 minutes before his Achilles gave out on him. The ending spelled doom for these Warriors as they were on the road in a hostile environment, playing in front of a crowd that was starving for it’s first NBA Championship in the city of Toronto and country of Canada. But, these Warriors were not ready to go gently into that good night as they pulled off the miracle win to keep their season alive.
Fast forward to Game 6 and the motto was to win it for KD. Warriors All-Star Guard, Klay Thompson, posted a heartfelt message on his Instagram about the importance of Kevin Durant to their championship dynasty and the importance of leaving it all on the line for the Warriors faithful as they looked to close out Oracle Arena on a high note as well as keep their championship aspirations alive for their fallen brother.
View this post on Instagram
Gameday, and it’s obviously a big one. But DubNation, I need you to reflect on the fact that we would not be in this position if it weren’t for this man and his sacrifices. He’s the reason there are banners hanging in the rafters of Oracle. I’m gonna need every Dubs fan in the building tonight to bring the same fire K brought everyday to the court 🔥 😤!! It’s not gonna be the same running out that tunnel without u bro. We all know this is a minor set back for a major comeback !! Nothing can impede this mans greatness. 🐐 Speaking of oracle, let’s lay it all out there tonight in honor of the of the 47 years in this beautiful building . Let’s get it DubNation! #doitforK #onelastdance #webelieve
Damn near 12 hours later, the Warriors organization and their fan base would take another punch to the gut when this happens…
Klay goes down with an apparent leg injury, and all of Oracle holds its collective breath. pic.twitter.com/QGqNxvgYhY
— ESPN (@espn) June 14, 2019
Obviously, for a team looking to three-peat without it’s best player, it was going to be proven difficult, but to lose a knockdown shooter and proven ironman in the final minutes of a close game that you need to keep your season alive to a torn ACL was going to close to impossible to pull off. And yet, these Warriors kept fighting and came within one missed Steph Curry three-point attempt from extending their season to a game 7.
Unfortunately, it was not to be and now we must look to a future filled with concerns and doubts. Both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant enter this offseason as unrestricted free agents with the former always expected to re-up with the team and the latter expected to initially take his talents to the bright lights of New York City or share the Staples Center in Los Angeles with LeBron James but on opposing teams.
But even if Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant were to both resign with the Warriors this offseason, they would both likely be out for the 2019-20 seasons with a Torn ACL and Ruptured Achilles respectively. This upcoming season would likely be a wash unless head coach, Steve Kerr, and General Manager, Bob Myers are able to pull a rabbit out of their hats this offseason.
They would never admit it since they are still in the competitive fight, but one must ask, is this the end of the Warriors Dynasty as we know it? This is a core that is not getting any younger with star player Stephen Curry entering his age 32 season, Draymond Green turning 30 at the conclusion of the season, Andre Iguodala turning 36(if he returns), and barring a miracle in recovery and resigning of course, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant won’t play competitive basketball until the 2020-2021 season in which they would be ages 31 and 32 respectively. We’ve seen legendary teams age before our very eyes before in the forms of Bird’s Celtics, The Bad Boy Pistons, Magic’s Lakers, Shaq and Kobe’s respectively led championship teams of the last decade, and the Celtics Big 3 of the late 2000s. The difference is that those teams had satisfying conclusions to their championship windows as these Warriors ending feels hollow.
Fans of the Jordan Bulls era should know what that is like. Credit to the Raptors on getting the job done but I can’t help but shake the feeling that it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. Perhaps had we seen these Warriors go down in full on health on their shield, we would have some proper closure to this run. Then again, perhaps we should also take into account that this is just the end of a chapter and not the entire saga for these Warriors. Regardless of the outcome, we must all stand and appreciate these group of guys for their heart and tenacity that they left on display for the last 5 years.
Out of respect for all that these men accomplished, we won’t say goodbye but farewell until next time, and most importantly, Thank You, Warriors!