s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

CLEVELAND — The celebration was lit after the Warriors’ 108-85 win against the Cavaliers. And so were the bottles.

The Warriors, always a first-class operation under the ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, stocked the visitors’ locker room not with a middling California sparkling wine, but with bottles of Moet et Chandon. And each had an LED light at the base of the bottle, casting a glow through the glass. It was a luxury befitting an NBA championship.

And here I expected the excitement on Friday to be a little more muted than what had happened in 2015, and what had happened in 2017.

Most of these Warriors have been here before — literally and figuratively. An important core of six players whooped it up on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena in ’15. It was the franchise’s first championship in 40 years, and the first ever for guys like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. And ’17 was a moment of huge redemption, for a team that had been stunned by the Cavaliers a year earlier, and for superstar Kevin Durant, who finally won a ring with his new team.

This 2018 NBA championship didn’t offer nearly as much drama. The only guys to win for the first time were role players — Nick Young, Quinn Cook and rookie Jordan Bell. Everyone expected the Warriors to capture this title when the season began. I thought that once they delivered, they’d be feeling relief as much as joy.

I was wrong. From the scene on the court to the meet-up with family in a crowded hallway to the alcoholic mist in the locker room, it was pure bliss.

As soon as the game ended, the Warriors gathered on a makeshift stage at midcourt, surrounded by a yellow rope, to receive their championship T-shirts and gray ball caps. They looked just as happy as they had at Oracle Arena a year earlier. Warriors fans had made their way to the lower rows of the bowl here. One carried a sign that read, “SORRY NOT SORRY.”

The Warriors know they wear the target now. When NBA commissioner Adam Silver congratulated them on the win, there was a mix of cheers and boos in the Cleveland crowd. The Warriors didn’t much care.

Center JaVale McGee beamed and took selfies on the stage. McGee, Young, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala brought their children up to share the experience. Klay Thompson gave Durant a little shoulder rub when the legendary Bill Russell presented him with the NBA Finals MVP trophy. General manager Bob Myers took a phone call.

When Thompson got a chance to speak, he said, “Yeah, I passed my dad, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

Mychal Thompson, Klay’s dad, was standing about 30 feet away, talking to NBA super-fan Jimmy Goldstein. Mychal won two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers of the late 1980s. That was the latter stage of an all-time great team. And now the son has passed the father. The Warriors can claim dynasty status, along with the Celtics of the 1960s, the Lakers of the 1980s and early 2000s, and the Bulls of the 1990s.

When they left the court, Curry was carting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It looked about as big as him. Klay Thompson already had a giant cigar in his mouth.

The scene behind the scenes was chaos. The hallways and locker room and side chambers of Quicken Loans weren’t made for the massive crush of reporters, camerapeople and well-wishers who descended on the Warriors.

As dozens of media types queued up for locker-room access, the last few players and coaches strolled past on their way to the lockers. At one point, workers walked through carrying huge sections of metal railing, carving through the crowd like ice breakers.

We could hear the laughs and cheers from the locker room, but it was off limits.

Finally, someone emerged. It was Sammy Gelfand, the Warriors’ humble head of analytics. He was soaked head to toe with booze. Then Livingston walked by, goggles perched on his head. Then Curry followed, accessorized by goggles and a stogie.

Nick Young stole the show, though. He’s an 11-year veteran of the NBA, and has always been viewed as sort of a clown prince of the game. He plays defense with the intensity of a meandering stream. But now Young has joined the ranks of NBA champions.

“I’m running for president!” he said as he shot champagne in the hallway. “From now on, I’m not Swaggy P anymore. I’m Swag Champ. I’m like a national treasure now.”

A little later, in the locker room, Young kicked aside half-empty bottles as he looked for a change of clothes. He said he had dreamed of Kobe Bryant the night before. Kobe had told him, “Don’t get too excited. You didn’t win yet.”

Now Young had won. And he was excited.

As backup players, assistant coaches and team executives mingled and exchanged hugs, the high-profile players were dragged, one by one or two by two, to an interview room about 50 yards down the hallway. Thompson headed that direction with a towel over his shoulder. I followed him, but I didn’t keep pace.

I stopped to watch McGee, the towering 7-footer, with his tiny daughter, who’s about a year and a half old. She was grabbing a Channel 7 microphone as McGee crinkled his eyes and laughed.

Just then, someone wandered by singing. It was David West, the Warriors’ tough old man and resident voice of experience. West is, by turns, intimidating and wise. And he was just belting out a tune.

I kept walking. Here came LeBron James, the brilliant Cavaliers player who will probably no longer be a Cavaliers player. If he leaves this offseason, the team that just played the Warriors in four consecutive NBA Finals will crumble. James was surrounded by a retinue of 20 people. “Love you, LeBron!” someone yelled to him.

And here was Russell in a wheelchair. Lacob had stopped to talk to the legend, telling him that he had rooted for Russell’s Celtics when he was a boy.

Russell’s teams are the definition of a dynasty. The Warriors have a long way to go to reach that level of dominance. But now they will be mentioned in the same conversation. It’s remarkable. For fans who remember the teams of Terry Teagle and Todd Fuller and Larry Hughes and Bob Sura, it’s simply remarkable.

And it’s still joyous. Winning NBA championships, apparently, is a thing that never gets old.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

Show Comment