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Buy commemorative Warriors posters and sports pages at the Press Democrat store here


OAKLAND — Monday night in the giddy champagne and cigar haze after the Warriors won the NBA championship, there was one jarring breach of protocol.

As you know, there’s no cheering in the press box. Reporters are objective and reserved. In interview sessions, players are introduced to silence. When they conclude their remarks — even if it is MVP Kevin Durant — they leave the dais without cheers or applause. That’s how it is done.

So it was a jolt when, as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson finished answering questions and got up to leave, some yahoo in the crowd began clapping loudly. One great big slap of the hands after another, ringing out in the small, quiet room.

Everyone turned to see who the clueless jerk was who didn’t understand Journalism 101.

It was, of course, Steph Curry, cheering on his guys.

You’ll hear a lot of comparisons and analysis about the Warriors and Curry now. For all the time we media types spent building up the “uh-oh scenario” — what if they repeat their 2016 collapse after going up 3-1 in the Finals? — the simple math is undeniable: They beat the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers four games to one. They steamrolled the playoff games 16-1.

Now it is time for historic comparisons. How does this team stack up against the Showtime Lakers or the Larry Bird Celtics? And who would you compare to Curry?

Good luck with that.

In his interview session Durant went off on a Curry riff that I doubt you’d hear from any other team.

“Steph is … I never seen nobody like him,” Durant said. “I told him last night, I never seen a player like you before.”

Oh sure, America says. A heartwarming story about how the superstar has a heart of gold and is ready to sacrifice himself for the good of the team. Yeah, yeah.

We’ve heard it before. And frankly, there are those who are sick and tired of the whole St. Steph scenario.

Durant isn’t one of them.

“The stuff you hear about Steph as far as sacrificing and being selfless and caring about his teammates, caring about other people, is real,” Durant said. “It’s not fake. It’s not a facade. He really is like that.”

And this would be a good time to point out that Durant didn’t have to gush about Curry. He was sitting at the interview table with the (much deserved) MVP trophy next to him.

It was his moment — first championship, vindication to the haters and his biggest star turn on the national stage — and he went out of his way to praise his teammate.

The irony is — in a now-it-can-be-told moment — Curry now admits he had more difficulty adjusting to Durant than the other way around.

And in these sunny days of June, several players, including Curry, went all the way back to Christmas Day to say that’s when the season turned.

In that game, in Cleveland, the Warriors blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead to lose to the Cavaliers. Curry shot just 4-11 and was generally lackluster. It was a low point in the season and inevitably called up memories of blowing the 3-1 lead to Cleveland in last year’s Finals.

Buy commemorative Warriors posters and sports pages at the Press Democrat store here

Afterward, Curry was uncharacteristically outspoken.

“Honestly, I can’t have 11 shots,” he said. “I’ve got to get more looks at the rim.”

That kind of griping had a bad sound to it. There were even a few website suggestions that perhaps the team didn’t need Curry. Maybe Durant, Thompson and Green were enough.

The sniping that could have sent the season into the tank.

Or it could have been a come-to-Jesus moment for Curry and the team.

Stop worrying about everybody else, they told Curry.

“Steph definitely took a back seat to start the season,” Green said Monday night. “Until he realized we didn’t need him to take a back seat. I think it was after Christmas Day when he turned that corner. We became almost unbeatable.”

Curry admits it was true.

“There’s a point where I tried to make sure everybody was happy and getting shots,” he said. “But honestly, after that Christmas Day game I kind of realized that we have such high-IQ players that I could be aggressive, do what I need to do every single night and everything will kind of flow from that.”

Frankly, his numbers did not increase dramatically after that. They were up, but nothing eye-popping. But the difference was he had the ball in his hands more. And his teammates were fine with that.

“That was this whole thing,” Green said. “Who is going to take less shots? Is it going to be Steph, KD, Klay? (The answer is) none of them. The ball’s going to find who it needs to find at the end of the day.”

So as the offseason navel-gazing begins, we can help you out with at least one question.

There will be questions about whose team this really is, Curry’s or Durant’s? Is this a changing of the guard?

As this budding dynasty goes forward there will be those who wonder what Curry’s role really is.

For those folks, Durant has an answer.

“He’s our leader,” the MVP said.

You can contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.