The Jock Blog can be freezing cold in its takes, but every now and then we offer a lukewarm take that comes somewhere close to hitting a target.
So it was that three-plus months ago, after quite unsightly home losses to the Knicks and Mavericks, Warrior Nation howled for the pitchforks and the torches — some even clamoring for a hybrid pitchfork/torch combo.
The Jock Blog urged calm, noting that if there’s anything we’ve learned from the Kerr Dynasty, it’s that the only thing that matters is the playoffs, and that every road to the mountaintop is different.
As I was just saying to 19,000 of my closest friends Monday night at Oracle.
The Warriors are one win from a championship, and now may be the time to pen your apology texts to Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, Kerr — not to mention Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — after you all lost your collective minds because Luka Doncic went on a 26-1 fourth quarter run on Feb. 27.
The beauty of sports is the unscripted theatre part.
Every road to the mountaintop is different. You can’t always take the Kevin Durant Autobahn Express. You can’t always live in the innocent joy of 2015.
Sometimes, you have to do it with flecks of gray in your beard — looking at you, Draymond — and with spiritual dips in the Bay — looking at you, Klay — and by coaxing a lion’s heart out of Andrew Wiggins that, as Steph Curry said Monday night, he may not have even known he had.
Sometimes, it takes October’s 15th man on the roster to become a vital, indispensable part of your closing lineup in June. Or did you not hear the Chase Center roar for Gary Payton II as he entered Game 5?
Sometimes it takes an unheralded big man to overcome a career-long label of being ‘injury-prone’ to become one of only five players to play all 82 games this year, then soar in the playoffs as the Warriors’ purveyor of glass, defense, dirty work and heart. Talking to you, Kevon Looney.
And sometimes, it takes your global icon superstar to author one of the great individual road performances in Bay Area sports history — right up there with Madison Bumgarner in Kansas City in 2014. Steph Curry’s 43-point Game 4 wasn’t just a Mona Lisa for his career, it may very well be the thing that differentiates a fourth championship from the pain of a runner-up finish.
This, after Steph authored the worst statistical regular season shooting of his career.
Sports. You never know, kids.
This is not to anoint the Warriors as champions. I have plenty of “appropriate fear”, per Steve Kerr’s mantra, of the Boston Celtics getting hot from 3-point land and running bodies at Steph and protecting rims with physical vigor. This is not over, by a long shot.
But after Monday night’s display of defensive intensity and competitive desire, it’s hard to see this group stopping now. I’ve said all along that until we see the Holy Trinity of Steph/Klay/Dray lose a post-season series when healthy and motivated, I won’t believe it.
Being down 2 games to 1, and down 5 points midway through the 4th quarter on the road in Game 4 sure tested that belief. But Steph Curry kept playing that night. So did the Warriors. They know, from their collective years of experience, that every road to the top is different.
They can almost see the top now. Their stories of how they got there, when they celebrate, will be so sweet to hear.