It’s been a while since we’ve seen an NBA champion three-peat. There was the Shaq/Kobe Lakers from 2000-2002, and before that the Michael Jordan Bulls from 1996-98.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was a member of that 1998 “last dance” Bulls team — but he doesn’t want to compare the two. In part because Kerr knows the expectations are high enough for this team without adding Jordan comparisons to the mix, but also because that was a very different situation. When a reporter suggested it Kerr shot it down, as reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN.
“Last dance?” Kerr said with a smile after his team’s first practice Tuesday. “I hope not. I hope we keep dancing.”
“I think the difference is with Phil [Jackson] in ’98 we all were free agents and we all knew we were all going to be gone, including Phil,” Kerr said. “But we’re not in that same position. We do have plenty of free agents, but we’re not looking at this as the final dance. Like I said, we want to have some fun and enjoy what we have this year and move on from there.”
Kerr’s right, these Warriors are not breaking up — Golden state moves into a new arena next season, you think ownership is going to cheap out now and not pay to keep this thing together as the team moves into a money-making machine of a building?
Klay Thompson is a free agent this summer, but nobody around the league thinks he is going anywhere (in fact, he’s likely to take a discount to stay). Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are still under contract for (Green for two more seasons). Kevin Durant can opt out, and might, and other teams are hoping to try to lure him away with the promise of “his own team.” What happens this season and in the playoffs will undoubtedly impact Durant’s decision, they could win again and he could sign up to stick around. However, even if he left, the Warriors won their first title of this era without him and would still be contenders. Golden State would still be dancing.
Father time, money to pay all these stars, there are factors that will eventually break up this Warriors’ dynasty. Eventually. But that time is not now, and will not be next season, either. Kerr, having been through all this before, is the perfect coach to guide this team now, and keep them focused on finding joy in the game and savoring the moment. He gets it. The Warriors seem to, too.