By Kevin Lopez
The NBA season is finally over, 82 regular season and 22 playoff games are in the books for the Golden State Warriors as they are the 2022 NBA Champions. They have defeated the young, upstart Boston Celtics led by Jayson Tatum. It was a competitive battle, but the experienced and battle-tested Warriors came out on top. What a journey the Warriors went on to get to their seventh title as a franchise as there were many instances that would indicate that they were over and done winning rings. How wrong we all were.
During the 2019 finals, Klay Thompson, the Warriors star shooting guard, tore his ACL after getting fouled and then Kevin Durant, the Warriors superstar small forward, tore his achilles tendon. Losing players to injury is never good, but losing two of your best players to season-ending injuries within a few days of each other is more than just bad luck. It was almost as if the basketball gods were punishing the Warriors for being “too good”.
With Stephen Curry left to carry the team, the Raptors were just too much for the Warriors as they beat them in six. The following year in 2020, Durant left the team, leaving a big hole for the Warriors to fill. The season was anticipated for Curry to take over and lead the Warriors to promise, but five games into the season, he broke his hand and was out for the season. Without Durant, who left in free agency, and no Curry and Thompson because of injury, the Warriors collapsed and had the worst team in the NBA that season.
In 2021, many believed the Warriors could make a comeback and contend, but Thompson, recovering from a torn ACL, tore his achilles tendon during a summer practice. Yet again a setback, yet again a busted season as the Warriors missed the playoffs and did not contend for a title. That means from 2019 to now, the Warriors dealt with setback after setback, promise turned to disapointment, and the dreams of the Larry O’Brien trophy being in San Francisco looked dim. What makes this title run so special is that the Warriors had every problem thrown their way and the team took every punch and was able to finally punch back and win their seventh NBA Championship for the franchise.
As for the Boston Celtics, they left the 2022 finals with many questions. Can you win with the two young stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who both struggled with efficiency and consistency in the finals? Do you stick with Marcus Smart as your point guard despite the high number of turnovers? What do you do with your veterans Derrick White and Al Horford? Can you get out of the Eastern Conference once again?
The East next year will be competitive again with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks looking to make a comeback, the Sixers with Joel Embiid looking to prove everyone wrong, the Miami Heat looking to fulfill the Pat Riley prophecy, and many young and hungry teams also looming in the background to finally strike such as the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons. The Boston Celtics are young, so they have time, but time flies in the NBA, so they must take advantage of their window while it’s open.
As for Stephen Curry, where does this championship put him in terms of the all time greats? He now has four rings, he has two MVP’s, he is the all time 3-point leader, and is now knocking on the door of being one of the greatest to ever do it. Curry changed the game for the better, he has single handedly almost canceled the center position, while also revitalizing the Golden State Warriors.
The once great franchise during the sixties and seventies turned into a doormat for 30 years with a few bright spots such as Run – TMC and the We Believe Warriors. Curry changed all that with a three point shot. From undesirable to undeniable, that means so much to a player’s career when they can do that, it is a special thing. It’s hard to judge someone’s career while it’s still going. Can he win one more? Two more? Where does this dynasty end? Where will he finish on the all time scoring list? How many All Star games and All-NBA teams will he end with?
It’s hard to say, you would think that because of how Curry plays the game, he will continue this success for a while, but that’s the great thing about the NBA. You never truly know when things will start or end, but for Curry, he is now in a special group, he is now being considered a top 10 all time player. Is he there? It’s up for debate, but the fact that we are having this conversation shows that Curry’s legacy is set in stone as one of the greatest basketball players to ever touch the hardwood.