OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson showed no fear. He didn’t so much as blink, much less hesitate. The D-word came out of his mouth with a breezy assurance no different than the basketball coming off his shooting hand.
That’s not Thompson’s presumption, nor is it that of the Warriors. But when you’re on a run of three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, with two championships to show for it, that becomes the only long-term goal.
And Thompson embraced the notion, when asked on Thursday what will drive the Warriors this season.
“Probably the potential dynasty factor, leaving a legacy like the Showtime Lakers of the ‘80s or that (Larry Bird-led) Celtics team or those Bulls teams of the 90s or the three-peat Lakers team,” Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area.
“We just want to be known as one of the greatest teams of our era. And I think we have the ingredients to do it. We’ve just got to go out there and take it. That’s what drives us.”
The Warriors last season became the first team in NBA history to win at least 67 games in three consecutive seasons. They became the first team in 31 years to post the best record three consecutive seasons. Their 207 wins are the most ever during such a span.
History beckons, and Thompson -- along with fellow All-Stars, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green -- believes the Warriors want their piece.
“Individually, our best guys don’t need any motivation; you see it every day with Steph and Kevin,” he said. “They are the hardest workers on the team. And when you see your two best players doing that, everybody else on the team, we just follow suit. They’re still really hungry and we just want to leave a legacy, especially in the Bay Area, as one of the greatest collections of talent that ever stepped on the hardwood.”
Seeing the goal is one thing, achieving it quite another. Several teams around the league, most of them in the Western Conference, have made bold moves in an effort to seriously challenge the Warriors.
The Thunder, coming off a 47-35 season, added Paul George and then Carmelo Anthony to a team led by reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. The Rockets (55-27 last season) traded for future Hall of Famer Chris Paul, pairing him with James Harden. The Timberwolves, a disappointing 31-51, added All-Star Jimmy Butler, former All-Star Jeff Teague, and steady veterans Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to a roster that already had Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Warriors remain the favorites, but Thompson seems to realize that favorites don’t always win.
“It’s just going to be a fun year in the NBA,” he said. “People think it’s the Warriors and everybody else. But we don’t think like that. And, certainly, the players around the league don’t think like that.”
Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, only two franchises -- the Lakers and the Bulls -- have won three titles in four seasons. Both did it twice. By most any reasonable definition, they were dynasties.
If Thompson and the Warriors manage to thrive while navigating the regular season and then win another championship, that’ll put them safely in dynasty territory.