The regeneration will have lasted three years. On June 13, 2019, Klay Thompson’s left knee gave way — a torn anterior cruciate ligament — and following behind him, the Golden State Warriors collapsed at home. Present for the fifth consecutive year in the NBA finals, the San Francisco Bay team saw the Toronto Raptors will be crowned for the first time in their history. Then began a dark parenthesis for the flagship team of the North American basketball league of the last decade.
Winners, Thursday, June 16, of the sixth game of the 2022 final, on the Boston Celtics court (103–90), the Warriors won the seventh NBA title in their history (four wins to two). The fourth since 2015 for the Stephen Curry-led squad.
Returning to this level [de la compétition]after what I’ve been through… I wouldn’t trade that for the world.”, had tasted Klay Thompson late in Game 5, putting his team one victory away from the crowning. The trajectory of the All-Star butt perfectly embodies that of his team. For two years, the shooter has multiplied the galleys, chaining two major injuries. Handicapped by this absence, combined with that of playmaker Stephen Curry and the departure of fellow star Kevin Durant, the Warriors sank. And he posted the worst record in the league during the 2019-2020 season, fragmented by the Covid-19-related pandemic.
The structure of the Warriors, version 2022, remains the same: Steve Kerr is still on the bench and he has just won a fourth championship ring as a coach, after five harvested as a player; the triumvirate of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remains the common denominator in every Finals played since 2015. But except for the three All-Stars — and Kevon Looney and Andre Iguodala — every other player was a neophyte.
The Californian team has been able to take advantage of the years of black bread to complete its squad, and make it mature. For the draft, first -that selection where, every year, the teams select the best youngsters based on their previous results-, but also for trying to bet on the transfer market. Former No. 1 draft pick and disappointing world basketball hope, Canadian Andrew Wiggins has melted into the mold like this since he left Minnesota for the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I try to do all the little things that win a game. That’s it. Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, defending… Anything they ask me to do, I do.”the player insisted after the fifth game of the final.
In the mold of the Spurs
A hard core forged by the draft, an alloy of stars loyal to his team and players by trade, and tempered by a direction with clear ideas; the model evokes another “dynasty” of the NBA: the San Antonio Spurs. Between his first title, in 1999, and his last, in 2014, Frenchman Tony Parker’s team accumulated five crowns and allowed coach Gregg Popovich to establish himself as master of a whole generation of coaches. This year, the coaches of the finalists, Ime Udoka at Boston and Steve Kerr at Golden State, learned their skills from the Texan coach, who this year became the most successful coach in the league.
“It is a model that everyone would like to followassured Steve Kerr in March. You combine great stability within the organization, excellent player development and quite a few astute decisions. » Before qualifying: “But for everything to fall into place, you need a lot of luck. Even if it’s the model, it’s really hard to re-release everything they’ve done. »
Before the Warriors, only the Spurs had managed, in the last thirty years, to successfully incorporate new talent into an already winning core. How young fullback Jordan Poole has integrated into the California squad in three years, to the point of becoming one of its pillars, and a cousin. “Splashbrothers”Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, due to their ability to make three-point shots, evokes the additions of Kawhi Leonard or, further back, Tony Parker, to the Texas squad.
Like the Spurs, the Warriors weren’t too quick to consider a sequel in 2019, following the departure of star Kevin Durant (to the Brooklyn Nets). Instead of assembling an arsenal of stars, like the established “super teams” in the Los Angeles Lakers or the Nets, to capitalize on the best years remaining for the trio Curry, Thompson and Green, the Warriors have rebuilt a workforce capable of winning . long-term and immediate.
Stephen Curry, leader “regulated like clockwork”
In 2015, Steve Kerr, then a beginner, claimed that “the brilliant game” developed by the Spurs constituted “the quintessence of what [qu’il] investigated with his team ». His men demonstrated this year that they had not lost that DNA, made of perpetual motion and collective force, embodied in the motto “strength in numbers”.
At the end of last season, when the Warriors had just been eliminated during the “to play in” (dam phase that precedes the playoffs), Stephen Curry had warned: “You won’t want to see us next year. » A prophetic inspiration for the leader of the San Francisco Bay Area, who announced the return of his team.
He himself made the Californian national team boss suit his own. At 34 years old, considered the best shooter in the history of the League, he is a more complete player than ever, elusive on the pitch, and increasingly effective on defense. “It’s an anomaly”teammate Draymond Green said of him, noting that even when superstar Kevin Durant played for the Warriors, “it all started with Steph”. A tightrope walker, with a contagious smile and work ethic, whom his coach likes to compare to Roger Federer, because of his and his side’s daily enthusiasm. “regulated like clockwork”.
Champion for the fourth time and finally MVP of the Finals, Curry has returned to the heights of the NBA. And given the youth of much of the roster and the game played, it’s a safe bet that next year either, the other 29 teams in the league won’t want to cross paths with the Warriors too much.