The NBA season has come to a close and we have new champions after Game 6 in Boston last night. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 103-90 to win their 4th championship in 8 seasons. One last time, let’s take a look at the key takeaways from the game and the series, and what it means for certain players legacies going forward.
We’ll start with NBA Finals MVP Steph Curry who contributed 34 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in NBA history. In my opinion, this championship places Curry in the top 10 players in NBA history, probably somewhere in that top 7-8 range. In terms of point guards, the only player I can put above him now would be Magic Johnson. Championships are the difference between great players and legends, and Steph Curry is a legend this morning. The scary part? With a couple of tweaks to the roster, the Warriors may repeat next year, and if they do, we’re talking top 5 territory.
What did this win mean for Draymond Green and Klay Thompson? Simple – they’re both future hall of famers now. They probably were beforehand but if there was any doubt this confirms it. Along with Curry they’ll go down in history as one of the greatest “Big 3”s of all time along with Magic/Kareem/Worthy, Bird/McHale/Parish, Duncan/Parker/Ginobili, Pierce/Allen/Garnett, and Jordan/Pippen/Rodman. No they didn’t have their best series but they did enough to contribute meaningfully to another championship and all 4 with the same franchise. Andre Iguodala may be joining them as well.
This iteration of the Golden State Warriors will go down in history as one of the most well run franchises in the history of American sports. It’s easy to say they lucked out in the draft multiple times but that is a lazy argument. Steph Curry was drafted 9th overall, Klay Thompson was drafted 11th overall, Draymond Green was drafted 35th overall and Jordan Poole who averaged 18.5 points a game this past season was drafted 28th overall. In addition to drafting well and retaining their home grown talent, they also made a fantastic move trading for Andrew Wiggins who was indisputably the second best player on the floor during the NBA Finals. Head Coach Steve Kerr has been a calming force on the bench and between being a player and a coach has now won 9 championships in his career. The word “culture” gets thrown around way too easily in sports because many times it’s aspirational and not grounded in reality, but the Golden State Warriors have developed a fantastic culture that players want to be a part of and they are to be commended for that.
What happened to the Boston Celtics? Time and time again this team melted down during the biggest moments and seemed ill-equipped to handle the pressure of the bright lights of the NBA Finals. In my NBA Finals Preview I had said: “I also have some concerns about Tatum’s consistency and the relative health of Boston. In the words of Dusty Rhodes, the Celtics have been living on the edge of a lightning bolt, and the Warriors have the pedigree and experienced coach who will pounce in those vulnerable situations. My head says the Celtics, but my gut says the Warriors. I’m going with my gut here – Warriors in 7.” Those concerns about Tatum’s inconsistency were clearly well founded. If you’re an NBA First Team caliber player, you have to be able to put a team on your back in high-pressure situations. Tatum is still young and learning but will have to improve his performance in the clutch for the Celtics to get over the hump.
Someone who’s legacy will take a hit after this? Kevin Durant. Curry and the Warriors proved that they didn’t need Durant to win a championship and Durant’s decision to leave Golden State to go to Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving is looking worse by the day. He’s one of the greatest scorers of all-time and he still has the ability to win a championship but that window is closing very quickly. Although he is a 2x champion, those championships are not going to be held in the same regard as other championships because the optic is that he needed to ride Curry’s co-tails. Fair or not, that will be the narrative until Durant wins a title.
Thank you as always for the support! Two big columns next week – Major League Baseball Power Rankings and part 1 of the NBA Draft Preview!