An immediate thought comes to mind after watching the Golden State Warriors begin another defense of their NBA championship with Tuesday’s methodical 108-100 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
To those who believe the regular season is insignificant and immaterial: Well, what if the Warriors go 82-0? They have won three of the last four titles and could become the first team since the Boston Celtics in the 1960s to play in five straight Finals.
We josh. Or do we? Other than being really cool, it would set the stage for a postseason that might lead to a third-straight title that would necessitate another ring and ring ceremony. We will hope for the best.
Remember, the Warriors hadn’t won a championship since 1975 – Clifford Ray and Rick Barry were gods. We value each precious tick of the possession clock.
Did you see how the Warriors received their rings? They were dropped from wires suspended from the roof of the Oracle Arena. We have seen rock stars ascend on platforms and saunter down staircases in a cloud of white smoke. We have never seen rings descend from ceilings.
And these were not just your average Harry Winston rings. These things were the size of tire rims and reversable, like the comforter covering your bed right now. On the blue side sat 74 sapphires, symbolic of the Dubs’ 74 wins in the regular season and playoffs. On the white side are 74 diamonds – symbolism times two.
If you want, you can even twist off the ring’s top as if it was jar of peanut butter. There you will the slogan “Strength in Numbers” which pumped up the players last season.
Give credit where credit is due: The rings were made by Jason of Beverley Hills. On its website, interest in a piece of women’s jewelry is met with an invitation to request a price. If you have ever eaten in a restaurant without prices on its menu, we don’t have to tell you what that likely means.
The players came out one by one, Kevin Durant saved for last. Once there, they made a point of honoring their equipment manager, Eric Housen, who took to the court and was hugged by Steph Curry as the championship banner was unfurled – after Curry counted down from five – like the rings, from the arena roof.
“Last year was an unbelievable journey,” Curry told the crowd. “Let’s celebrate this to the fullest.”
The team even received warm-up jackets with “The Champions” and “Back to Back” sewn on. This was not reversable. Once turned inside-out, it’s only inside-out. You can’t have everything.
That would be asking too much, of course. The Warriors do have everything, iconic players, a solid coach and a winning tradition.
Now they will be expected to fend off the invasion of LeBron James to the Western Conference as the Lakers join the Houston Rockets in their nuclear attack on the champs.
“I know where we’ve been,” Curry said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be at a point where you just. …where it’s just kind of a blah moment. Just seeing the ring and seeing the banner come down and seeing all those trophies so. If that ever happens, I hope somebody just slaps me in the face, smack some sense into me, because this is a special opportunity we have every night. We get to play basketball, we get to go chase a trophy, chase a championship. That will never get old.”
As for the game, it wasn’t as perfect as the rings. Without Russell Westbrook to deal with, the Warriors turned over the ball 13 times in the first half, the game was tied with 10 minutes to play and they led by only a deuce with just over seven minutes left.
And Andre Iguodala limped off the floor after just 11 minutes in the first half with left calf tightness, never to be seen again. Is this a concern? Duh! He missed 15 regular season games last season with a litany of ailments and injuries and six postseason games with a left knee contusion with required surgical attention.
But they won. Durant had 27 points. Steph had 32 with five threes. Klay Thompson didn’t shoot very well, but still ended up with 14.
After this season, things will never be the same with the Warriors. They leave Oracle and move to San Francisco where the Chase Center awaits.
So why not end things with a bang. One down, 81 to go. That’s got a nice ring to it.