That’s what Klay Thompson said after the Golden State Warriors’ Game 6 loss in Cleveland, when asked if their record-setting season would be a failure if the end result wasn’t a championship. And in a sense, he’s right. The 73 wins don’t mean as much without the trophy. The bloom unquestionably came off the rose during the postseason, between Stephen Curry‘s knee injury, the 3-1 deficit to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals, Draymond Green‘s infamous groin punching and, ultimately, their 3-1 collapse against the Cavaliers.
The Warriors can’t feel good about any of that. But it should not diminish what was, until Sunday night, an incredible, dominant season.
Throughout the season, in a year in which Kobe Bryant announced his farewell tour, and in which Kevin Durant‘s free agency loomed large in the background, the Warriors were the dominant story, day in and day out. And not without reason. They seemed invincible all season — Curry followed up his MVP campaign in 2015 by somehow getting better, blowing past his own single-season three-point record. His pregame warmups became appointment viewing across the league — fans would show up early to pack the lower bowls of arenas to watch simple dribbling exercises, and opposing teams’ local broadcast affiliates often streamed them online.
In a regular season without much drama and with only a few real contenders emerging, the Warriors’ will-they-or-won’t-they quest for the 1996 Bulls’ wins record was a daily fixture. Golden State pulled it off, on the final day of the season, and that record is going to stand for a long time.
The injuries — to Curry, to Andrew Bogut and to Andre Iguodala — are not an excuse for the Finals collapse. It’s really, really hard to win a championship, let alone two in a row, even when you just rattled off the greatest regular-season record in NBA history. They didn’t roll through the playoffs, and they shouldn’t have. This is supposed to be hard.
We’ll never know what would have happened if Curry hadn’t gotten hurt in the first round, or if Green had been able to keep his hands to himself. This Warriors team was absolutely good enough to win the title — the problem was, so were the Cavs. But the Warriors aren’t going to be forgotten anytime soon.