BOSTON — Turns out Dynasty had just been put on hiatus.
Golden State won the NBA championship again, four seasons after the last. It’s the seventh title for the franchise and the fourth for its three superstars: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who have spent the past decade growing together, winning together and, over the past three years, learning how fragile success can be.
On Thursday, they beat the Boston Celtics, 103-90, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. They won the series, 4-2, and celebrated their decisive victory on the TD Garden court, under 17 championship banners, in front of a crowd of disappointed fans.
With 24 seconds left in the game, Curry found his father near the baseline, hugged him and shook him sobbing in his arms. Then Curry turned back to the game. He put his hands on his head and squatted down, then fell to the ground.
“I think I passed out,” Curry said later.
He thought of the last months of the playoffs, the last three years, the people who didn’t think he could be here again.
“You get goosebumps just thinking about all those snapshots and episodes we went through to get back here,” Curry said.
Curry, who scored 34 points in the deciding game, was named the Finals MVP. It was the first time in his career that he won this award.
“Without him, none of this happens,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “For me, this is his crowning glory.”
The Celtics took a 14-2 lead to open the game, playing better than they did in their lackluster start to Game 5, but Golden State’s firepower threatened to overwhelm them. For almost six minutes of playing time, from the end of the first quarter until the start of the second, Boston could not score.
Golden State built a 21-point lead in the second quarter and held on to that cushion early in the third.
With 6:15 to go in the third, Curry hit his fifth 3 of the game, giving his team a 22-point lead. He reached out his right hand and pointed to his ring finger, sure he was about to earn his fourth championship ring.
The moment may have motivated the Celtics, who responded with a 12-2 run. In the end, however, they had too much ground to recover.
Golden State celebrated after two seasons of mediocre records, one that made them the worst team in the NBA Its players and coaches have spent those seasons waiting for Thompson’s injuries to heal, Curry’s (minus) injuries to heal and that new or young pieces on their roster to grow and take on important roles.
When they came back whole, the three-player core talked about cementing their legacy.
They were so much younger when their journeys together began. Golden State drafted Curry in 2009, Thompson in 2011 and Green in 2012.
Curry was 27 when they won their first championship together in 2015. Both Thompson and Green were 25.
This season was also Kerr’s first as the team’s coach.
Golden State went 67-15 and cruised through the playoffs to the NBA Finals, having no idea how tough it might be to get there. The following year, the team set a league record with 73 regular season wins, but lost in a round trip to the Finals. Kevin Durant joined the team in free agency that summer, and Golden State won the next two championships, becoming one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
Champions have grown as people and as players during this streak. Curry and Green added children to their families. They were rock stars on the road, with swarms of fans waiting for them at their hotels. Three championships in four seasons have made Golden State invincible.
Only injuries could stop them.
The Dynasty run ended in devastating fashion in 2019 in their fifth consecutive Finals appearance. Durant had battled a calf injury, then tore his right Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the Finals against Toronto and left for the Nets in the offseason. Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee the following game. The Raptors won the championship that day.
“It was the end of an era at Oracle,” Curry said, referring to Golden State’s former arena in Oakland, Calif. The team moved to Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. He added, “You’re getting ready for the summer, trying to regroup and figure out what’s going to happen next year.
The two seasons of futility that followed were difficult for all, but none more so than for Thompson, who also tore his right Achilles tendon in the fall of 2020, sidelining him for another year.
During this year’s finals, he often thought about this trip.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Thompson said. “I’m very grateful and everything I’ve done so far has led to this.”
Heading into this season, Golden State was not expected to return to this stage so soon. This was especially true because heading into the season, it was unclear when Thompson would return.
But then, hope. Golden State opened the 2021-22 campaign by winning 18 of its first 20 games. The team had found a gem in Gary Payton II, who had been pushed aside by other teams due to his size or not being an exceptional 3-point shooter. Andrew Wiggins, acquired in a 2020 trade from Minnesota, Kevon Looney, who was drafted weeks after that 2015 championship, and Jordan Poole, a late first-round pick in 2019, showed why the team enjoyed it so much.
Curry set a career high for 3-pointers and mentored the team’s young players.
Who’s to say how good this team could be once Thompson returns?
That answer came in the playoffs.
Golden State beat the Denver Nuggets in five games and the Memphis Grizzlies in six. Then Dallas only won one game against Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.
Curry, Thompson and Green, the engine of five straight finals, entered this year’s championship series completely changed.
“Things that I appreciate now, I didn’t necessarily appreciate then,” Green said. “In 2015, I hated taking pictures and, you know, I didn’t really put two and two together. Like, man, those memories are so important.
They swore not to take any part of the final experience for granted, even the negative parts.
Throughout the series, Boston fans have chanted at Green using a swear word. During the champagne celebration in the post-match locker room, his teammates followed suit.
“It’s beautiful,” Green said. “You embrace the tough times, and that’s what we do and that’s how we come out on top. For us, that was a beautiful thing. To hear my teammates sing that, it doesn’t get much better than that. .
They faced a Boston Celtics team that was young, just like in 2015, led by 20-year-olds Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, guided by statesman Al Horford. The Celtics have done almost everything the hard way as they seek the legendary franchise’s 18th championship.
They swept the Nets in the first round but went to seven games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. They won when they had to and made too many reckless turnovers when they didn’t.
Boston was the youngest, strongest, and most athletic team in the Finals. The Celtics weren’t afraid of Golden State, or the big stage, and proved it by winning the first game on the road. Until Game 5, the Celtics had not lost consecutive playoff games.
Curry fought his way against the Boston defense in Game 4, scoring 43 points. Then in Game 5, the Celtics thwarted his effort, only for his teammates to make up for the ground he lost.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Green recalled a moment during Golden State’s flight to Boston from San Francisco between Games 5 and 6. He, Thompson and Curry were sitting together when they were spotted by Bob Myers, team general manager and president of basketball. operations.
“He’s like, ‘Man, you’re all funny. You are still sitting together. You don’t understand, it’s been 10 years. Like, that’s not happening. The guys always sit together at the same table,” Green recalled. “He’s like, ‘The guys haven’t even been on the same team for 10 years, let alone sitting at the same table and enjoying the conversation and each other’s presence.'”
At a separate press conference minutes later, Thompson was asked about the moment and why the three still enjoy each other’s company. Curry stood against a wall, watching, waiting for his turn to speak.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Thompson said. “I owe Draymond money in dominoes, so I don’t want to see him too many times.”
Curry bent at the waist, doubled over with a silent laugh.
“I was half asleep,” Thompson continued. “Draymond and Bob chatted for six hours on a plane trip. I was just trying to get some sleep.
Curry later said, “All the personalities are so different. Everyone comes from different backgrounds. But we’ve all thought around a collective unity of how we do things, whether it’s in locker rooms, on the plane, in hotels, whatever. We know how to have fun, gel and keep things light, but we also understand what we’re trying to do and why it all matters in terms of wins.
The next day, they won their fourth championship together. They crowded together and jumped together. When Curry won the MVP Finals, they chanted “MVP” with everyone else on stage.
Long after the celebration was over, Thompson and Curry stayed up there together, sometimes sitting together, sometimes dancing together. Thompson looked down from the stage and said he didn’t want to leave.
Curry got off before Thompson, but he stood on the top step first. He held a cigar between his lips and clutched the MVP trophy in his left hand.