Warriors’ gritty 2022 NBA Finals victory a triumph of the aged

Warriors’ latest Finals victory truly a triumph of the aged originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

BOSTON – The roar of the crowd, so mighty for the first six minutes, died early Thursday night at TD Garden. The Warriors woke up in the seventh minute, put the Celtics over their collective knee and chased the energy out of the building.

Visualizing another ring, Draymond Green saved his best for last, and Stephen Curry punctuated a wonderful series with one more night of magnificence.

And in the end, the team with a thirtysomething core was too wily and too determined for the talented youngsters on the rise.

The Warriors’ 103-90 victory in Game 6 not only was their fourth championship in eight seasons but also testimony to their recovery powers – after missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons, the first of which ended with the worst record in the league – and the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles.

“This one may have been the most unlikely just from the standpoint of where we’ve been the last couple years,” coach Steve Kerr said.

And then there was the anxiety around this season, with Klay Thompson missing the first half while recovering from surgeries to each of his legs. On the night of his return in January, Draymond goes down and misses two months. One game after his return in March, Curry goes down for the rest of the regular season.

At the start of these Finals, a single question hung over each team. Are the Celtics ready to win it all? Can the Warriors still summon the juice to deliver a beat back one of the laws of the NBA, that of age being a detriment in The Finals.

They heard the chatter, and those concerns are based in fact. Power in the NBA leans toward youth. This, then, was a statement, a triumph for the aged.

Which is why, as Curry says, it “hits different” than the Finals runs from 2015 through 2019.

“It was kind of a steady climb to get into the championship, and whether you won or lost, you kind of just left it all out there,” he said of those seasons.

“Then you go to these last two years, and conversations, narratives, we’re “too old,” the parallel timelines of developing young guys and keeping our core together, all those tough decisions that we had to make, that weighs on you for as much time as we’re going through it.”

These Warriors raised eyebrows in the first three months, winning 28 of their first 35 games. Championship possibilities sprouted beyond the locker room. If they can do this with Klay, the league had better be careful when he gets back.

What followed, though, was a series of trials and tribulations, losses to vastly inferior teams. The Warriors were 5-6 in February and 5-11 in March. They had given back so much of what they’d earned in the first half. They were sabotaging themselves.

But they kept at it, and their season of frustration concludes in elation.

“You get to a point where you’re in a playoff series against Denver and then Memphis and then Dallas and get to Boston,” Curry said. “And it’s like we’re right here, and it’s surreal.

“Then you get to the finish line, and that’s why I think this one is definitely different because of the three years of baggage we carried coming out of that Game 6 in 2019.”

Game 6 in 2019. The NBA Finals loss to the Raptors at Oracle Arena. The night Klay went down with a torn ACL. The end of an era?

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By the time the core – Curry, Green, Thompson, and Iguodala on the periphery – reached these Finals, the average age was 34. That is, in the NBA, old.

And yet they traveled a postseason road though the young stars, beginning with Denver’s Nikola Jokic, followed by Memphis’ Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., shifting to Dallas Luka Doncić and finally to Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Average age: 25.

“There is this one player on the Grizzlies who Tweeted “strength in numbers” after they beat us in the regular season and it pissed me off so much,”

Thompson said, referring to Jackson. “I can’t wait to retweet that thing. Frigging bum. I had to watch that, like this frigging — okay, okay. Sorry. Bad memory just popped up. Going to mock us? Like, you ain’t ever been there before, Bro.

“We been there. We know what it takes.”

The Warriors were able to summon the juice. And it was enough to make them champions once more.

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