Again NBA champions, the rebirth of the Golden State Warriors

The regeneration will have taken three years. On June 13, 2019, Klay Thompson’s left knee gave way – rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament -, and following their rear, the Golden State Warriors collapsed at home. Present for the fifth year in a row in the NBA finals, the San Francisco Bay team saw the Toronto Raptors be crowned for the first time in their history. Then began a dark parenthesis for the flagship team of the North American basketball league of the last decade.

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Winners, Thursday, June 16, of the sixth game of the 2022 final, on the floor of the Boston Celtics (10390), the Warriors won the seventh NBA title in their history (four wins to two). The fourth since 2015 for the squad led by Stephen Curry.

“Coming back to this level [de la compétition]after what I’ve been through… I wouldn’t change that for the world”, savored Klay Thompson at the end of match 5, placing his team one victory away from the coronation. Because the trajectory of the All-Star back perfectly embodies that of his team. For two years, the shooter has multiplied the galleys, chaining two big injuries. Handicapped by this absence, combined with that of the master to play Stephen Curry and the departure of the other star, Kevin Durant, the Warriors plunged. And hit rock bottom “dropping out” the worst record in the league during the 2019-2020 season – fragmented by the pandemic linked to Covid-19.

The backbone of the Warriors, version 2022, remains the same: on the bench, Steve Kerr is still in place (and has just obtained a fourth champion ring as a coach, after the five gleaned as a player); and the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green triumvirate have been the common denominator in every final played since 2015. highest level.

The Californian team has been able to take advantage of the years of black bread to complete its workforce, and make it mature. By the draft, first – this selection where, each year, the teams select the best young people according to their previous results -, but also by attempting bets on the transfer market. Former number 1 in the draft and disappointing great hope of world basketball, the Canadian Andrew Wiggins has thus melted into the mold since he left Minnesota for the San Francisco Bay.

“I try to do all the little things that win a game. That’s all. Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, defending… Anything I’m asked to do, I do.”insisted the player after the fifth game of the finals.

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In the Spurs mold

A hard core forged by the draft, an alloy of stars loyal to their team and duty players, and tempered by a management with clear ideas; the model evokes another “dynasty” of the NBA: the San Antonio Spurs. Between their first title, in 1999, and their last, in 2014, the team of Frenchman Tony Parker amassed five crowns and allowed coach Gregg Popovich to set himself up as a master for a whole generation of technicians. This year, the coaches of the finalists – Ime Udoka in Boston and Steve Kerr in Golden State – both learned their skills from the Texan coach, who this year became the League’s most successful coach.

“He is a model that everyone would like to followassured Steve Kerr in March. You combine great stability within the organization, excellent player development and quite a few shrewd decisions. » Before qualifying: “But for everything to fall into place, you need a lot of luck. Even if it’s the model, it’s really hard to re-release everything they’ve done. »

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Before his Warriors, only Spurs had managed, over the past thirty years, to successfully incorporate new talent into an already winning nucleus. The way in which young fullback Jordan Poole was incorporated into the California workforce in three years, to the point of becoming one of its mainstays – and a cousin of the “Splash brothers”, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, for his ability to catch fire at three points – evokes the additions of Kawhi Leonard or, further back, Tony Parker, to the Texas squad.

Golden State Warriors player Klay Thompson tries his luck in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Boston on June 16, 2022.

Like the Spurs, the Warriors did not rush when it came to considering the sequel in 2019, after the departure of star Kevin Durant (to the Brooklyn Nets). Rather than assembling an arsenal of stars – like the “super teams” set up at the Los Angeles Lakers or the Nets – to capitalize on the best years remaining to the trio Curry, Thompson and Green, the Warriors have rebuilt a workforce capable of winning in the long term and immediately.

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Stephen Curry, leader “regulated like clockwork”

In 2015, Steve Kerr, then a beginner, assured that “the sparkling game” developed by the Spurs – notably during the 2014 finals – constituted “the quintessence of what [qu’il] researched with his team ». Once again champions, having got the better of the stubborn Celtics, his men showed this year that they had not lost this DNA, made up of perpetual movement and collective strength, embodied by the slogan “strength in numbers” (“strength in numbers”). “We restored what Warriors basketball was like”welcomed Stephen Curry on the eve of the finals.

If he interrupted, in the previous match, his crazy series of 132 playoff games with at least one three-point basket, the double MVP (“Most valuable player”, best player of the season) takes on the costume of indisputable boss of the California team. He’s not the size of a LeBron James, a Shaquille O’Neal or even a Michael Jordan, but Curry has, in his own way, put his teammates on his shoulders to take them to another title.

At 34, Stephen Curry, considered the best shooter in the history of the League, is a player more complete than ever, elusive on the ground, and increasingly effective in defense. “It’s an anomaly”said of him his partner Draymond Green, pointing out that even when the superstar Kevin Durant played for the Warriors, “everything started from Steph”. A tightrope walker, with a smile and contagious work ethic, whom his coach likes to compare to Roger Federer, for his daily enthusiasm and his side “regulated like a clock”.

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At the end of last season, when the Warriors had just been eliminated during the “play-in” (dam phase preceding the playoffs), Stephen Curry had warned: “You won’t want to see us next year. » A prophetic inspiration for the San Francisco Bay leader, who announced the return of his team.

Champion for the fourth time and finally MVP of the Finals, Curry has returned to the heights of the NBA. And given the youth of a large part of the workforce and the game deployed, it’s a safe bet that next year either, the 29 other teams in the league do not want to cross paths with the Warriors too much. .

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