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Murph: Is the Warriors’ swag back?


© Wendell Cruz | 2021 Feb 23


It last made an impact on your life in June of 2019, but now it’s coming back.

No, I’m not talking about the banjo pluck of “Old Town Road”, the ubiquitous Lil Nas X hit of two summers yore.

I’m talking about the swag of the Golden State Warriors.

Remember those guys? I’m speaking of the swarming defenders, the three-point bombers, the ball-movement specialists and the team that always looks more together than the team on the other bench.

Those guys. You last saw them play “Strength in Numbers” hoops in the unforgettable five-NBA-Finals-appearance run of Junes 2015-19.

But then Kevin Durant popped an Achilles. Klay Thompson tore an ACL. And the next thing we knew, a bunch of hockey fans were chanting “We The North!” on the final night of Oracle Arena’s 47-year-run as the home of the Warriors.

Warrior swag went into hibernation. Durant went to Brooklyn. Klay went to the physical therapist. Andre Iguodala went to Memphis. Shaun Livingston retired.

All of a sudden, Steph Curry and Draymond Green were wearing “HELLO, MY NAME IS” stickers at the meet-and-greet sandwiches-and-lemonade gathering with Ky Bowman, Omari Spellman and Glenn Robinson.

Then Steph broke his wrist. Draymond felt all alone. The Warriors went 15-50 and I dare you to remember that Zach Norvell, Jeremy Pargo and Dragan Bender became #ForeverWarriors during that run.

Then, a pandemic.

We were a long way from any elevation sensations, sports fans.

And then Klay got hurt again.

You gotta be . . . I mean, what the . . . @#&?*!# was going on here???

Were we all paying sports fan karma for having it too good? For having a front row to the most joyous and attractive champion since the Showtime Lakers? For enjoying Steph Curry’s intergalactic talents and humble off-court persona?

Maybe that was it. Maybe we had our run, and it was back to the Desert of Cohan, as those who wander the NBA wilderness call it.

But, time marches on. Things change. D’Angelo Russell becomes Andrew Wiggins and a draft pick. Joe Lacob decides he has more money than Jeff Bezos and spends $180 million on tax alone to acquire Kelly Oubre. A 15-50 record nets you the No. 2 pick in the draft, and the Warriors welcome a 7-foot-1 cheetah named James Wiseman.

And Steph Curry decides that he’s going to get — wait for it — ACTUALLY BETTER AT BASKETBALL.

Here we are in late February of 2021, and the Warriors will host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, and they are coming off of two road wins on back-to-back nights, and coming off a four-game road trip in which they were pretty much the better team in the gym on every night, and . . . oh my goodness, the Warriors swag is back in our lives.

Draymond Green turns a humiliating double-technical foul in Charlotte into a teaching moment for the team, and plays vintage Draymond dish-and-D basketball the next two games. Oubre overcomes a nightmare shooting slump and never drops his dauber, and is now a kinetic force offensively and defensively. Wiggins actually earns the nickname “Two Way Wigs”, which is way better than his nickname in Minnesota, which was something like “Whatever Happened to Andrew Wiggins?”

And Curry is a jackrabbit shot out of a cannon every night, in the best physical shape of his career, turning his minutes into Barry Bonds at-bats, as previously documented in the Jock Blog.

Steve Kerr and his crack staff have the team buying into defense, soaring to the No. 5 defensive rating in the league. Team swag? The Warriors lead the NBA in assists, the ultimate sign of Kerr’s ball-movement, everyone-matters system.

The Warriors are 18-13 since laying two eggs to start the season. And they’re getting better every night.

I’m not saying this year ends in a championship. I’m also not saying that, either. All I’m saying is, something is happening right before our eyes, and it’s best not to miss it.

Warrior DNA is being discovered again in the laboratory. Welcome back.

 

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