BOSTON — Golden State general manager Bob Myers was walking down the aisle of the team’s plane on the Warriors’ flight to Boston on Wednesday when he stopped in his tracks.
He had to say something, because the three stars of his team — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green; the trio that built the Warriors’ new San Francisco arena and filled it with banners — were sitting together for the six-hour flight to another NBA Finals game.
The trio has played together for a decade. In a league run by stars where loyalty is the exception, not the rule, the longevity for the Warriors’ greats is, indeed, stunning.
But what Golden State’s stars have is even more special that that.
“Y’all don’t understand, it’s ten years. Like this, does not happen,’” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “Guys still sitting together at the same table… He’s like, ‘guys [are not even on the same team for ten years, let alone still sitting there at the same table and enjoying each other’s conversation and presence.’”
The Warriors will have an even happier flight home to San Francisco, on Friday. Golden State beat the Celtics in six games to claim the NBA title – their fourth in eight years. And they did it because they had something that cannot be bought or taught:
Yes, the prerequisite for winning games, much less titles, is talent, and the Warriors had that in spades the first time they did it in 2015 and this time around, too.
But chemistry is the magic elixir for winning in this league. The differentiator.
And not only do the Warriors’ top players know how to play together, they know how to stay together. That’s allowed them to navigate both the highs and lows of the last decade.
Those highs have been incredible. And in the tightest moments of the biggest games, we’ve seen that chemistry and experience shine through ??” trust, belief, and understanding all coming together to create something special.
But the lows cannot be overlooked, either.
The Warriors were flash champions at first. No one foresaw their rise to the NBA’s elite before the 2014-15 season, their first under head coach Steve Kerr.
And who could have foreseen the Dubs, after back-to-back seasons missing the postseason – with Thompson coming off a nearly 1,000-day layoff because of injury, with Green having even more mileage on the odometer and with Curry in his age 34 campaign – doing what they just did?
The epicenter of belief came from that trio.
And – like in any great partnership – they couldn’t quite explain why they felt that way, either. They just knew it to be true.
“This journey wouldn’t be the same without those two guys,” Green said. “I couldn’t imagine sharing this journey with anyone else. You know, we built this thing from the ground up, and when you build something from the ground up, that’s your baby, and I think for us, we all appreciate each other and we understand what each of us bring to the table. It stretches far past what we have accomplished on the basketball court. You’re talking bonds, those bonds will last forever. We are linked and connected together forever.”
This trio is no doubt a strange brew.
Thompson is the most laid back in the universe. Green is perhaps the most boisterous.
“I owe Draymond some money in dominoes, so I don’t want to see him too many times,” Thompson said. “That’s funny. That happened like two days ago. I was half asleep. Draymond and Bob were chatting their hearts away for six hours on a plane ride. I was just trying to get some sleep. Good times.”
And then there’s Curry, a fascinating mix of both. No one has more fun playing basketball than Curry. No one works harder off the court.
Yet there’s always equilibrium. The combination has created greatness, and all three know when they are needed to either step up or step back.
It allows role players to actually be role players. It affords young players time to learn, even though the stakes are high. It allows veterans to be pointed with their lessons and enjoy the ride, too.
It has obviously made Kerr’s coaching life pretty easy, relatively speaking.
But remove even one of them – as we saw with Thompson for two seasons or Curry after he broke his hand early in the 2019-20 season – and the operation falls apart.
It’s been back together since January though, albeit only for 11 minutes before the playoffs started.
They came back together on the fly, in the postseason.
And by the end of these Finals, they looked like the 2015 edition of the Dubs all over again.
“All the personalities are so different,” Curry said of the trip. “Everybody comes from different backgrounds. But we’ve all jelled around a collective unit of how we do things, whether it’s in the locker room, on the plane, the hotels, like whatever it is. We know how to have fun and jell and keep things light, but also understand what we’re trying to do and why it all matters in terms of winning games.”
This trio is bonded by three things: enviable intelligence, experience in the big moments, and the chips on their shoulders.
Thompson and Curry were both lottery picks in the NBA Draft, but neither was considered a surefire star in the league.
Green was selected in the second round and remembers the names of everyone taken before him.
Even with all their incredible success — more than any one player or team could possibly need — it’s those early slights that still stick, that still motivate.
Curry was too small to put a team on his back and win NBA Finals MVP.
Green was too old, too much of an offensive liability to affect winning.
Thompson was never going to make an impact again after tearing his ACL and Achilles tendon.
And yet there they were, raising another trophy.
At some point, this incredible run will end.
But what’s to say that they won’t do it again next year, or the year after that?
Something this special, this unique, this victorious. It’d be ridiculous to put an expiration date on it.