There is no more NBA basketball this year – just securing the final parade permits and the same idiot-driven offseason legacy arguments and hare-brained contract-and-free-agency specuguesses that fueled the last two summers.
Two great summers, by the way, because the smell of burning money beats every perfume ever made.
Oh, there’s another game contractually required of them, and maybe even two – 2017, after all, taught us the punishment for pre-counting hens while they are still in their ovoid state. In other words, Cleveland isn’t officially dead until the coroner’s clock reads 00:00.
But in real terms, Kevin Durant put the hammer to 2017-18 Wednesday night, and though it would have happened eventually anyway at the hand of someone else, in this dimension, on this planet, Durant is the designated steel-drivin’ man.
You can already sense the rest of the nation edging away from the wreckage at Ontario and Huron. This series was declared over before the SEASON began, and the Warriors have overcome their own 85- and 90-percent nights to proving that very thing. Even LeBron James, a competitor of singular ferocity, has done two extended public service announcements for the Warrior Way. This is done, in thought, word and deed.
None of which matters to the Warriors themselves, of course. Winners get to dismiss the proles because that’s the culture we have made, and in the NBA, where royal families are defined by the uniform rather than the bloodline (well, except for the Colangelos), the Warriors have found that it’s still damned good to be the king.
But fame is a total whackjob sometimes, and Golden State validating every year-old opinion is its own crime, because the committed basketball viewer wants the bizarre plot twist and the adrenalized surprise ending, even if the raw ratings numbers say that casual fans will watch anyway.
In fact, it gets better and worse at the same time. There is a totally crackpot-driven notion that James might want to talk with the Warriors sours more people than it intrigues, including most Warrior fans. Indeed, the recasting of the Warriors for 2018-19 has begun, because the death of one narrative only causes the blooming of three others, even if the old narrative doesn’t have video to go with the script quite yet.
In other words, it’s never too soon to build a new bar for the Warriors to clear. Having comprehensively finished LeBron’s Cleveland days, they are now jump-starting the next era of NBA basketball, with them as ground zero.
And their new great white whales are not necessarily Boston or Philadelphia or LeBron James’ next team, but less substantial things – like history, like time, like the lure of greener pastures . . .
. . . like what they want to be AFTER they’ve all grown up. If this is their zenith, how do they prolong the decade they dominated into the next one? They need a new mountain to build as well as climb because they are their best when they have something that needs scaling, and the rigors of this season were made more obvious by that absence.
Or maybe they just learn to beat LeBron by taking him on as part of the “new” Warriors. It has zero chance of happening, it could kill the game for good and it will make the Warriors’ next luxury tax bill as high as the franchise valuation, but it will have the lava tsunami of narrative building the chattering classes seem to love so much.
In other words, we have gone with them through the magic year, the dominant year with the bitter ending, the dominant year with the dominant ending, and the year in which they beat boredom by compartmentalizing it. The only things left are legacy chases, cash-ins and history. And it all starts as soon as they can tidy what they are doing to these Finals.