“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Kerr said, “so why not just go all out and enjoy every step of the way.” That was coach Steve Kerr on media day, before the team had played their first game of the season.
Fast forward two weeks or so into the season, and I think everyone sort of knows what’s going to happen now. Thompson has found the shot everyone knew he was going to inevitably find, and we just witnessed the birth of Headband Klay. But even better: within that birth we can see why this Warriors core is likely to stick around for the long haul.
The Splash brothers foundation
There’s a brotherhood that was born here before either was famous - December 21st, 2012 at 9:34 pm to be precise - Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson became the two masters of Splash. They are all-time great shooters that came up from the ranks like characters in a Fantasy novel, but there’s no rivalry here. Instead, these two men have earnestly good wishes for each other.
“We’re never worried about Klay shooting the basketball.” The postgame interviewer had to grab Steph Curry because Thompson was in the locker room getting two stitches. What Curry didn’t say is that he was telling Thompson at halftime to go back out and break the three-point record that Curry himself had set.
In fact, in that third quarter, Curry didn’t take a single shot - he did however provide the assist that tied the record. This is how we are going to retain the core. No fancy pitches, no billboards, just a joyful acceptance of how much fun this team is.
Add in Durant now
When Durant first joined the Warriors, Klay Thompson was almost disgusted by the idea that any of the players would have to sacrifice anything - it’s one of the few expletives I can remember in any of his quotes.
Thompson understood that sacrifice was the opposite of what was about to happen, and Durant knew too, saying, “we want Klay to be Klay.”
Because these guys knew. They knew what this team could be. They knew what they could mean to each other.
Kevin Durant's +45 tonight in 28 mins is his highest +/- of his career.— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) October 30, 2018
Previous high: 11/26/12 vs CHA: +44
Already established with the two best shooters and a defensive point-forward, this team was about to load up even further. We’ve got four guys here who could be the cornerstone of a big three on their own. Teams like this are just....overwhelmingly historic.
Let’s recap the last 4 games for GS.— Justin Grant (@ThePackageJG) October 30, 2018
-Stephen Curry scores 51 with 11 threes on WAS
-Kevin Durant scores 41 in the Garden with 25 fourth quarter points
-Steph and KD combine for 69 points in Brooklyn
-Klay sets the NBA record for 3PM in a game with 14, and scores 52 in 26 min. pic.twitter.com/Ib2gKzHk68
The Warriors were 6-1 even though Klay Thompson was hitting less than 14% of his threes. Like this? They look unbeatable. Oh, and they still have Demarcus Cousins waiting to arrive in a month or two. Assuming nothing breaks with his arrival, this is almost certainly the greatest team ever assembled in NBA history.
Warriors work to retain their big free agents by not making it weird
As someone who spent a large chunk of my formative playing in bands, I can’t help but see some parallels in the Warriors’ roster. You see, in a group like this, there are always forces pulling you apart (like wanting to work on your own thing) and those that pull you all together (like that one song that we really nailed and want to put on our album or the perfect show we just played).
Last night was one of those good songs or perfect shows. It’s not just what the Warriors did; it’s how they did it.
“I really believe, I don’t know if I would have been able to break the records I have got in my past, just like tonight, without the system I play in or the team I’m with or the guys I play with,” Thompson said. “Because they knew even before I went out for the second half. Steph looked at the box score and said, ‘Go get it.’ And that just shows you the unselfishness that is within him. Same with KD and Draymond and DJ and everyone else that was out there on the floor trying to find me and get me good looks.”
We talked about this with Durant in NYC, but the casual acceptance and support that the team has for each other is phenomenal. Compared to the tension of last year, you can easily see how the casual weaponized joy that this team plays with is actually the best approach when it comes to retaining our free agents.
For right now, it’s not that no one cares - we care a lot - but the difference is that we don’t have so much anxiety. We are showing our concern by embracing this season with unadulterated joy, building memories that serve as the glue that binds this core together. And if anyone decides to leave, there’s not going to be bitterness, only joy and fond memories of nights like last night.