It is already Warrior season, which if you squint real hard and get into your head sounds like the start of the Bugs-and-Daffy Duck Season-Wabbit Season skit that soothed us all as youths. It is Warrior season, anyway, in that the team’s media day is five days away, training camp is six days away, and the start of the season is 29 days away. And we’re already talking about it all, even though none of the talk is modern-era fascinating, because the Warriors at the top of their game are still pretty much angst-free.
The Warriors are a champion out of time in that they don’t Patriot. They don’t Steeler. They don’t Laker or Timberwolf or Spur or Raptor or Senator (and trust us, the Ottawa Senators are absolutely the weirdest team of them all, and by light years). Golden State's only current fight is against its own regular season interest level.
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The Warriors’ era of crushing stability is about to run its course. Their time as an elite team still has years to run, barring health or contractual catastrophe, but they probably have only one more season in which their sternest opponents are the Houston Rockets, the Eastern Conference champion, and their own attention spans.
Not necessarily in that order.
Such is the nature of what they have built – a triumph of the fabulous and familiar, in which their place as the alpha dogs are all but ceded by everyone within and outside the game. For the third year running, the overwhelming assumption is that the Warriors are neither prepared to come back to the pack or the pack to rise to them.
Thus, the drama has to come from the outside with spec stories about what the players might do in a year, and all that is, is what most teams would consider normal change.
So here are your 2019 narratives a year ahead of time:
-Periodic updates on the new arena (update: it’s still being built, and when it is completed, it won’t be Oakland any more).
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-Kevin Durant’s next location (now it’s the Lakers, in a minute it’ll be the Knicks again, and it’s all predicated on the popular notion that he doesn’t think he is sufficiently worshiped where he is, even though the businessman in him screams to stay).
-Klay Thompson’s next contract (with Golden State, of course, because putting stuff in boxes and going somewhere else is an inconvenience, and the dog doesn't like the chaos).
-Draymond Green’s next contract (which is still another year off, and is the one true wild card in this otherwise pat hand).
This off-season was devoted to the agony of figuring out when Steve Kerr was signing his contract extension – it was mid-July and he was wearing pool shoes and a faded T-shirt when it happened. Now the big topic is the future for Patrick McCaw, which is pretty low-level chat fodder by any measure.
If there is a smoldering question, it is probably how Kerr will find new ways to entertain the employees so that they don’t feel under-energized during the rigors of the regular season. That was the one inflatable tale of last season – the occasional flat spots in their year that caused folks who wanted 74 wins to worry that 58 wouldn’t be nearly enough. As it turns out, 58 was fine, because 16 more came in quick succession, and it’s those last 16 that define a team in the new NBA.
In other words, there wasn’t much to chew on other than predictable excellence, which is why the outside world clung so desperately to the two-year-old Durant-Should-Never-Have-Left-Oklahoma-City faux-gument.
Thus, their ennui became ours, and we were left with two insane sentences – why the Warriors’ third championship was its least dramatic and least satisfying, and why they still don’t get enough credit for being them.
That is if you believe championships shouldn’t provide sufficient satisfaction, and why universal praise as the best team of the decade and one of the best in the sport’s history isn’t enough credit.
It may be true that the Warriors will be appreciated more in the rear-view mirror than they are now because they haven’t disintegrated into personal agendas and individual jealousies. But that’s not moving today’s national content machine needle.
Fortunately for everyone who isn’t a Warrior employee, next year will be very busy, and the Warriors will feel market stresses, age stresses, new building stresses and just general all-around this-isn’t-the-way-it-used-to-be stresses. That’ll be fun, won’t it? That’s what the nation has been waiting for, isn’t it?
Well, won’t it? Isn’t it? Eventually, yes it will be fun, and it is what the nation has been waiting for. But 2020 isn’t here yet, and the calendar doesn’t move faster just because you know what’s going to happen in 2019.