By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — From the moment all those months ago Klay Thompson pronounced “championship or bust” with his team to an 18-2 start, the Golden State Warriors looked poised to deliver on his lofty proclamation.
It took Thompson finally getting healthy, then Draymond Green and Stephen Curry overcoming their own injuries in the process, and a brilliant youth cast on the big playoff stage for the Warriors to win again.
Coach Steve Kerr and his Warriors champions celebrated Monday with a victory parade through San Francisco as thousands filled the streets on a hot June day and blue and gold confetti fell – with all these new faces this time as well. Players jumped off their respective rides to mingle with fans, Otto Porter Jr. and Thompson dancing and Andrew Wiggins showering fans with champagne.
Curry sported his three previous championship rings on a necklace.
“I had to bring back the jewelry. I don’t watch it during the year,” Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area.
Golden State won the franchise’s fourth championship in eight years on Thursday night by beating the Boston Celtics 103-90 in the deciding Game 6. Then Finals MVP Curry, Thompson and Green — the three core members of each run at the title, sat down together to celebrate, with Curry cradling the trophy.
And this time, Thompson’s “Holy cannoli, that’s crazy” reaction rang out everywhere. With the Warriors’ victory on the road, home fans had the opportunity to cheer on the team once again on Monday.
“We know what we’re capable of and we’re playing at the highest level,” third-year guard Jordan Poole said Saturday as the players held exit interviews. “We wouldn’t be here if we had any doubts. When you get guys together who can really lock themselves in and do it as a team, power and feeling is everything, it’s crazy. You can kind of feel that positive vibe and positive energy, and we all support each other.
Thompson returned in January after more than 2 and a half years apart following surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee and then another operation on his torn right Achilles tendon. But then Green fell, followed by Curry at the end of the regular season.
Fellow veteran Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP who is now 38 and also missed a lot of time, returned to contribute during the playoffs and help Golden State return to the top.
A whole cast of newcomers contributed to this title – from Poole to Wiggins to Gary Payton II.
“This one hits different for sure, just knowing what the last three years have meant, what it’s been from injuries to the changing of the guard in the rosters, Wiggs passing, our young guys believing we could come back to that step and win, even though it didn’t make sense to anyone when we said it, it all matters,” Curry said. “And now we have four championships. Me, Dray, Klay and Andre, we finally got this bad boy. It’s special.
Those new faces are a big reason why this one feels a little different. When Golden State won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018 before falling to Toronto the following year, Kevin Durant joined Curry, Green and Thompson as they began to build a dynasty. There have been five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019.
“We had Kevin Durant for three years with that hard core. Those teams were untouchable,” coach Steve Kerr said. “This team has been compared to our first league team in 2015. Maybe there are similarities. It’s still a really talented group of players.
Wiggins, Payton and Porter have all expressed their desire to return to the Warriors, while assistant coach Kenny Atkinson gave up the head coaching job with Charlotte to stay put and try to win another Bay Area title. .
“It’s really special to see guys like Wiggs and Loon and Gary Payton, how far they’ve come, the impact they’ve had, Jordan Poole, the same thing,” Kerr said. “I know I’m going to forget people but it takes a full team effort to do that, and we’ve just had a great group.
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