So this is how it ends for the Golden State Warriors.
America’s NBA team, a team with a stroke of great fortune now befallen by streak of dumb luck.
Kevin Durant comes. Durant tears his Achilles. Durant leaves.
Klay Thompson asserts himself as one of the league’s all-time great shooters. Thompson tears his ACL. Thompson misses all of last season.
And now Thompson tears his Achilles and will miss all of this season.
Steph Curry was on-again, off-again (mostly off) with injuries last year, too. The once-mighty Warriors became the league’s worst team. Quickly. Almost on purpose.
They became a developmental league team, with Draymond Green and a bunch of young hopefuls.
They traded for D’Angelo Russell, then traded him away. They landed Andrew Wiggins, and still don’t seem quite sure how he will fit.
They drafted James Wiseman, a center. The franchise that made small-ball all the rage has now gone big.
Last season was almost one long act of desperation to plan for the future. It failed.
Right now, the Warriors are Curry, Green, Wiggins, coach Steve Kerr and a bunch of young players — Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole and former Mexican league star Juan Toscano-Anderson. Damion Lee will likely start in place of Thompson at shooting guard.
The Warriors have gone from a dynasty to a collection of no-names that only Warriors fans might recognize.
This after 73-9, after five straight trips to the Finals, after three championships and after implementing a style of basketball that no one could stop.
Curry and Thompson were the Splash Brothers. Everyone knew they were at their best on the perimeter. Yet not a single opponent could shoo them away from the 3-point line, force them to drive into traffic, or to take shots they didn’t want to take.
That’s pure basketball genius, and it shows you just how much the Curry and Thompson duo mean to winning and winning big.
Now half of the duo is missing and will likely never be the same whenever he returns. That’s not hyperbole or an attempt to write Thompson off. But name a player who suffered a torn ACL, tore an Achilles and then returned and performed at the same level as he did before he was injured.
Thompson’s lack of fortune is similar to that experienced by center DeMarcus Cousins, once a difference-maker himself. Today, Cousins is having hard time finding work. He was a shell of himself with the Warriors in 2019.
We all wish the best for Thompson. Anyone who loves basketball hopes he can make a comeback and produce similarly to the way he once did. Maybe that will happen. Maybe.
Either way, this team will never be the same. The end comes eventually. It always does. For the Warriors, it may have arrived a little early, but it is here.