Dwyane Wade knew what Steph Curry was feeling. The legendary shooting guard had been atop the NBA as a co-star on the Miami Heat teams that won two titles and played in four straight Finals at the beginning of the last decade.
So when Curry and the Warriors were celebrating their third title in four years after brushing aside the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals, Wade made sure to pull Curry aside and let him know how fast things can change.
“Nothing lasts forever,” Wade told The Undefeated's Marc Spears about his conversation with Curry. “We just came off that same high they were on. I wanted to let him know to enjoy it because it’s not ever guaranteed to be this way for the rest of your career.”
One year later, exhaustion and injuries kept Curry and the Warriors from completing their three-peat bid. Kevin Durant then exited stage left for the Brooklyn Nets while Klay Thompson now has missed the past two seasons while recovering from a torn ACL and a torn Achilles.
So began Curry and the Warriors' long quest to get back to the top.
The 2019-20 season was viewed as gap year for the Warriors after Curry went down five games into the season with a fractured hand. It was time for the NBA's former giants to rest, recalibrate and plot the course for their return to the spotlight.
This season was expected to be the Warriors' grand re-entrance, but Thompson's injury prior to the start of the season derailed those plans. Instead, Curry and Draymond Green have been trying to win with a new supporting cast while Thompson cheers from the sidelines.
The result? The Warriors sit at 29-30 and in ninth place in the Western Conference with a month to go.
But Curry is plowing ahead, using Wade's words and the memories of the Warriors' dynastic run as fuel to return to that rarified air.
“They are great memories for sure,” Curry told Spears when reflecting on Wade's words. “We’re two years removed from the ’19 Finals, three years from winning in ’18. I still remember what it’s like at the level. I want to get back there. So, that’s the motivation.”
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Curry and the Warriors are destined for a likely first-round playoff exit should they even survive the play-in tournament.
The offseason will bring on a lot of questions about the Warriors' path forward, the fit of James Wiseman with Curry's timeline and how best Golden State can maximize the prime of one of the best players in NBA history.
The return of Thompson will help some, but the Warriors have issues that can't be cured by the return of Splash Brother No. 2.
Still, Curry, ever the optimist, believe the Warriors do have another run in them. As long as he's playing at an otherworldly level, the Warriors will always have a puncher's chance to get back into title contention.