The Steph Curry-Kevin Durant Warriors were a force the likes of which team sports have never seen and might never see again.
For three seasons, the Curry-KD Warriors stomped over anything and everything in their path. At their peak, they were the greatest show on hardwood, capable of obliterating opponents in a matter of minutes. Only injuries and exhaustion led to their downfall in the 2019 NBA Finals, as Durant's ruptured Achilles and Klay Thompson's torn ACL kept the Warriors from completing their threepeat.
Durant, who left to join the Brooklyn Nets after the 2019 Finals, will return to the Bay for the first time Saturday when the Nets and Warriors face off at Chase Center.
Curry, naturally, remembers his time running alongside Durant fondly.
"Two championships, an unfortunate ending with injuries and not getting it done in the '19 Finals, but it was some of the best basketball that I think the world has ever seen and the ability to put that much talent and experience together and make it work -- there was no guarantee that it was going to work and we figured it out," Curry told reporters after Thursday night's win over the Orlando Magic. "It was an amazing run and one that, when it's all said and done, we will remember. The heights that we accomplished and achieved and that was an amazing three years of a moment in time."
While the Warriors are planning a video tribute for Durant prior to Saturday's game, Curry doesn't expect any extra emotion given the circumstances surrounding the season and the venue the Warriors now call home.
"Honestly, and don't get me wrong when I say this, I don't know how special it will because it's not at Oracle and there are no fans," Curry said. "So it's kind of weird, just that whole vibe. I know we have a tribute video which obviously he deserves and hopefully will be a moment that he'll appreciate. But outside of that, it is kind of weird given all the things that have changed since 18-19. I'm sure you if you ask him, he'll say it's just another game and that's what it will end up being when the ball drops on Saturday."
Sure enough, while Durant is appreciative of his time in the Bay, he is focusing on gelling with Kyrie Irving and James Harden as the Nets try to establish an identity after their blockbuster trade.
"I'm looking forward to being out there with the team again and building some chemistry," Durant, who has missed the last several games due to health and safety protocols, told the media Friday. "That's my main focus. I had some great years in Golden State. Look forward to being back in the Bay Area but it's a shame the fans won't be there."
When the time does come, there's no doubt Durant will receive a hero's welcome back from the fans in the Bay Area and his jersey will one day hang from the Chase Center rafters. It's fair to expect a statue of Durant, along with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala also will one day sit outside the Warriors' new San Francisco palace.
But for now, both the Warriors (14-12) and Nets (15-12) will take the court Saturday hoping to take another step toward finding out who they are during this pandemic season.
The two teams met on Opening Night, a 125-99 blowout win for Brooklyn. The Warriors are a much different team now, and Curry is playing at an all-world level that should have him atop the MVP discussion with Durant, LeBron James and Joel Embiid. The Nets, on the other hand, still are figuring out who they are after acquiring Harden from the Houston Rockets last month. Harden's arrival in Brooklyn will force Durant to use the lessons he learned from Curry in order to keep his new superteam on the title track.
Durant's return to the Bay has been heavily-anticipated for almost two years. It won't be the return he deserves, though. That still is a year in the making.