We learned in 7th grade that the Spartan soldiers were told, upon leaving for battle: Come home with your shield, or on it.
In other words, win the battle, or die trying.
Talk about leaving it all on the floor.
Meanwhile, the 2018-19 Golden State Warriors?
They went out on their shield.
And that makes it all OK, in the end.
Yeah, you want to win the NBA Championship every year that you have names like Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala on your roster. Yeah, you want to win three NBA titles in a row and make history, like the Jordan Bulls, the Russell Celtics and the Kobe-Shaq Lakers. Yeah, you want to maximize a window for glory that might not stay open forever.
Yeah, you want to win the NBA Championship when your team totes around a swanky nickname like the ‘Hamptons Five’.
But life isn’t fair. Sports aren’t fair. Other teams exist.
And injuries, as disappointing a topic to consider as any when engaging in great sports debates, matter.
Or maybe you missed the sight of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson leaving NBA Finals games on crutches. They went out on their shields.
I’m of the opinion that you can’t slap an asterisk on the Toronto Raptors title. You get credit for outlasting your foe. You get credit for beating the team in front of you. You get credit for going 3-0 at Oracle Arena in the NBA Finals.
And the Warriors get credit for becoming the first team since the Russell Celtics to make five consecutive NBA Finals. That’s a massive achievement, one almost worthy of its own banner.
But as the Jock Blog has noted throughout the long, long, long NBA season — remember Steph Curry’s fall groin injury? The November fight between Durant and Green? The Christmas Day loss to the Lakers? Durant’s feud with the media? All that stuff happening *before* St. Patrick’s Day? — the toll exacted is mighty, both emotionally and physically.
Hell, DeMarcus Cousins blew out his quadriceps — and was one of the last five on the floor for Steve Kerr’s Warriors. Kevon Looney was ruled out for the season with a broken collarbone — and was one of the last on the floor for Kerr.
Had the Warriors won Game 6, had Steph Curry made that wing three-pointer, the team might have had to hold open tryouts before leaving for Game 7 in Toronto.
It was all too hard for the Warriors to finish the three-peat, and it’s all totally OK. The riches they have bestowed upon the Bay Area the last half-decade are almost impossible to quantify in terms of memories, shared bonds, parade highs, Oracle games with families, gear purchased and smiles given.
You can’t win the title every year. Hell, the Patriots lost to the Eagles just two Super Bowls ago, and they take “NO DAYS OFF!”, according to their coach. The Derek Jeter Yankees were supposed to build on their three-peat, but lost to the Diamondbacks in 2001, then again to the Marlins in 2003. Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant lost to the Pistons in 2004 and the Celtics in 2008.
The Steph Curry/Klay Thompson Warriors have lost to the Cavs in 2016 and the Raptors in 2019, and have more chapters to write when 2020 rolls around.
Their bodies gave way, but not before they made it two wins shy of the mountaintop. Out on their shield. And that’s OK, sports fans.