It’s all about LeBron and Kawai now, about the Lakers and Clippers. The new reality set in Tuesday. Another NBA season started, and the Warriors are no longer on center stage as was made all too clear on prime time.
Lakers vs. Clippers; that’s what the country wants to see, and what it did see on opening night, the Clips, with Kawai Leonard scoring 30, defeating the Lakers, 112-102. That used to be the Warriors, getting the attention, but no longer.
The change was so rapid. One day the Warriors were playing the Raptors in Game 6 of the finals. Virtually the next day their dynasty was coming apart. Andre Iguodala was being traded, Shaun Livingston was retiring, Kevin Durant was joining the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson was injured.
Nothing is forever, but who thought the end would be so quick? It was almost impossible to read a preseason forecast in which Warriors weren’t the favorites. Now it’s impossible to read one in which they’re anything but also-rans.
It’s a new world, one where the dynasty, five consecutive finals and three championships is barely a memory; a world where the player some consider the greatest ever felt compelled to get in a zinger.
That Michael Jordan took a shot, albeit a figurative one—those old guys will do almost anything for attention—was meaningless. That Klay Thompson will be unable to take any shots for a long while is serious.
It’s funny with great athletes when they retire. Some tell us the new generation is fantastic. Others, like Jordan, act as if nobody will match their accomplishments, and in Jordan’s case, that might be true.
In an interview with Craigh Melvin on “Today,” Jordan was asked to update a list made six years ago of players he thought would be unbeatable in a pickup game.
A loaded question. The older an athlete gets, the more distant he is from the competition, the better he gets. Right? Not that Jordan had much room for improvement, as opposed to room for understanding the feelings of his peers.
Jordan declined to update which was allowable, continuing the 2013 group of Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and his former Chicago Bulls teammate, Scotty Pippin.
“So Steph Curry shouldn’t be offended when he watches this?” Melvin asked Jordan.
“I hope note,” said Jordan. “He’s still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer, yet, though.”
Technically, Jordan, now an executive with the Charlotte Hornets, is correct. You don’t get voted into the Hall until your career is done. Jordan could have given a more positive answer, but he knows Curry is from Charlotte and obviously wanted to give him a bit of a jab.
Jordan knows, as we all do, Curry, a two time MVP, a member of three Warriors title teams, is a lock for the Hall.
He also knows he’s a hell of a golfer, as is Jordan.
Klay Thompson is another Hall of Fame probability. At times he’s unstoppable. Three years ago he scored 60 points in three quarters against Indiana before being taken out by head coach Steve Kerr.
Now Kerr would love to have Thompson for just one quarter. But the coach said Thompson’s rehabilitation from the torn ACL which occurred in Game 6 of the finals, June 13
“It’s unlikely he’s going to play this year,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. “So we have to understand that.”
Thompson had surgery July 2. Warrior’s general manager Bob Myers, speaking Sept. 30 at the start of training camp, said the team would re-evaluate Thompson around the All-Star break in mid-February.
“You have to look at it realistically,” Kerr said. “I had an ACL (tear) in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it’s a full year for Klay, that puts them out for the season.”
A season that for the Warriors is here all too soon.