The Oakland…I mean Golden State Warriors are ending their romance with the city that has been home for 47 years. They are scheduled to return to their San Francisco roots in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Warriors departure is bittersweet for the city of Oakland that currently has a crappy football team and a little engine that could baseball team. For Oakland to lose their shining light on a hill is a tough pill to swallow particularly for the non season ticket holders who scrape up the money for tickets two or three times a year, and who can’t afford the king’s ransom prices of The Chase Center in San Fran.
The Warriors and Bucks were the cheapest NBA ticket for years but now with both teams having new arenas their tickets will be one of the priciest.
The Warriors are no longer a team that reflects the small town they represent. In Frisco, they will be Frisco’s version of Hollywood, wealth and the 1%. The ending being what it is, the Warriors can say farewell by accomplishing a feat that hasn’t been done in 16 years. They can win three titles in a row.
The road to their third straight title is littered with hiccups but even then the Warriors are expected to bring another title to the Bay. They don’t have an equal. Except if egos get in the way or injuries or fatigue finally hits them. A lot can go wrong for the Warriors but most expect it to go right because of Kevin Durant who is also part of that equation of a lot going wrong.
Durant is a free agent after this season and speculation is intense about where he may wind up. Durant has proven loyalty means something different to him than let’s say for most people so it’s not a sure thing he will play in San Francisco. Whether he stays or goes is not everything if Durant doesn’t want it to be.
Durant and his back-to-back Finals MVP’s is the reason the Warriors are everyone’s favorite to win the elusive third ring in a row. It is not because without Durant the Warriors aren’t elite, but rather with Durant the Warriors are exceptionally gifted. Add in DeMarcus Cousins and it is almost unfair what the Warriors have done. But Durant is the key here because of his impending free agency and how he allows that very real circumstance to interact with his season.
If LeBron James was still in Cleveland, it would be a moot point. But he’s not and the Lakers have money and Durant is known to be fickle and it’s L.A. And… And… And….
James and Durant have taught us that what makes logical sense to NBA watchers doesn’t make the most sense to a player who has different desires and needs and who we don’t really know, not the intricacies of their lives. So I cannot say Durant won’t let what happens next summer affect him just like Kyrie won’t and Anthony Davis (still under contract but rumored to want out of New Orleans) won’t and Jimmy Butler won’t. At the end of the day, they are human. They are loyal until they are out the door, then they are trying to be happy.
But before July 1, 2019, the Warriors have a third title in a row to grab. If they win it, it puts them in the same company as Jordan’s Bull’s and Kobe-Shaq’s Lakers and Russell’s Celtics, in other words the elite of the elite, hallowed teams who are revered and talked about for generations. If the Warriors don’t win the title or don’t get back to the Finals no one will think they are any less a dynasty, just that health and chemistry and bad luck finally had its turn with them like with everyone else. But just as when they won 73 games and lost the title, they won’t be able to unilaterally put their names with the elite title teams.
The Spurs with Tim Duncan never won 3 titles in a row. Neither did LeBron and Wade. Nor Magic’s Lakers or Bird’s Celtics. The Warriors have an opportunity to achieve something special but first they have to get through the season unscathed with Kevin Durant as their best player but not their most important, that is Steph Curry territory.
But the best player determines the agenda. Win one for Oakland, one last time. Get rings in San Francisco opening night 2019. Three-peat and stop the haters. Be iconic. 47 years of Oakland history demands it.