Why Klay Thompson is optimistic about Warriors' 2020 NBA title hopes

Why Klay Thompson is optimistic about Warriors' 2020 NBA title hopes

"Don't let us win this one."

Those words famously uttered by Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar prior to Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees have more or less served as a rallying cry for teams down on their luck. They've also served as an edict for those on the precipice of delivering the knockout blow: Don't let them get off the mat.

That line of thinking certainly fits with 2019-20 Warriors and those looking to take them off their perch. The five-time defending Western Conference champions will enter the season still licking their wounds from their 2019 NBA Finals loss and an offseason that saw them lose Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while the rest of the Western Conference got stronger.

Klay Thompson will miss at least half of the season as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL, and many believe the Dubs' hopes of reaching a sixth-straight Finals are grim.

While the outlook for next year appears bleak in terms of championship potential, the rest of the West would be wise to head Millar's advice and not give the Warriors any room to breathe. While Thompson knows the road will be hard, he believes the Warriors need a is a puncher's chance.

“The West is so stacked, not just with the Lakers and Clippers but the Jazz made great moves, the Nuggets are young and upcoming, the Blazers have an amazing backcourt, the Rockets have a two-headed monster in the backcourt with two MVPs still in their prime,” Thompson told The Los Angeles Times' Arash Markazi. “So it’s going to be tough for us, but I assume I’m going to be on the court at some point and hopefully I’ll hit the ground running and we’ll be in playoff contention. That’s all we need is just a shot.”

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Steve Kerr will have to rely on Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell to carry the load until Thompson is all systems go. But the Warriors have the championship pedigree, and undoubtedly will be motivated to prove all their doubters wrong.

While the Curry, Thompson, Green, Russell "Big Four" isn't as daunting as the one that included Durant, it's still an opponent no team will want to see in the playoffs. 

Steve Kerr believes Warriors' 73-win NBA record never will be broken

Steve Kerr believes Warriors' 73-win NBA record never will be broken

Steve Kerr knows winning. Not only has he won eight NBA titles -- five as a player and three as a coach -- he also had his hand in the two winningest regular seasons of all time. 

Kerr averaged 8.4 points off the bench and played in all 82 regular season games in the 1995-96 season when the Chicago Bulls set a new record by winning 72 regular-season games. Fast forward 20 years and Kerr coached the Warriors to a 73-win regular season, to break his and the Bulls' record. 

So, does Kerr believe any team can top 73 wins?

"It was just a stunning season, and it's such an amazing accomplishment," Kerr said Friday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "I just don't think it's possible to break that record. Of course, I didn't think 72 would be broken."

There of course is one big difference, though.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Bulls went on to beat the Seattle Supersonics in six games to be crowned champs. And the Warriors blew a three-games-to-one lead in the Finals, losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5.

"I know are guys were proud of it, but we didn't validate it with a title," Kerr said. "As a result, we just have a small banner in our practice facility commemorating it. That's kind of how it should be I think. We can look back at it and remember a great season, but we didn't quite get it done.

"So it definitely loses a bit of its luster."

[RELATED: Kerr details impact of 'Last Dance' behind-the-scenes access]

Bulls players wore shirts that read "Don't mean a thing without the ring" in the '96 playoffs, and then went out and got it done. Golden State overcame its own 3-1 deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals before being on the wrong side of history the next series.

The banner will remain hanging just as 3-1 jokes and memes are here to stay. Both seasons were historic, but only one completed the job.

Steve Kerr discusses 'Last Dance' crew's impact on Michael Jordan, Bulls

Steve Kerr discusses 'Last Dance' crew's impact on Michael Jordan, Bulls

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary gave basketball fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Chicago Bulls’ dynastic run through the 1990s. Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was an integral part of those Bulls teams as a player, has said he didn’t want the same type of access to his Golden State team during the recent five-year run of consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

Kerr joined former two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long on his podcast this week, and talked about how he and his teammates in Chicago handled the constant presence of cameras chronicling Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

“The first couple months, it was really weird,” Kerr explained. “Especially because Phil Jackson had always been a coach who felt like the locker room was sacred, that you couldn’t just have anybody walk in.

"So our locker room was really private, and then all of a sudden we go into that season in ‘98 and Phil says ‘there’s gonna be a camera crew following us around’ we’re all like ‘what? What the hell?’ ”

He did emphasize that players eventually got used to the attention.

[RELATED: Where Warriors' Steph Curry ranks among top NBA MVPs of 2010s]

“After a while, they just kind of blended in so it wasn’t too intrusive,” Kerr said.

The distraction didn’t seem to faze those Bulls, as they completed MJ’s second three-peat and won the 1998 NBA Finals.

The 2018-19 Warriors dealt with similar media scrutiny as the world wondered whether the organization could complete a three-peat of its own, and whether two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant would remain in the Bay Area long-term.

Unfortunately for Golden State, the ending of that 2019 NBA Finals didn’t mirror the Bulls’ victory, as injuries took the Larry O’Brien trophy out of the hands of the Warriors.