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In 2015, the NBA championship was a miracle. The Warriors, featuring those fresh-faced splash fellows, came outta Oaktown with a swagger and a shimmy and shocked the world.

The 2016 finals were a disappointment. It wasn’t just that the Dubs lost. It was the way it happened, with injury to Steph Curry and a suspension of Draymond Green. LeBron James topped it off by trolling the guys with Halloween tombstones and taunts about blowing a 3-1 lead.

The 2017 title was vindication. Take that, LeBron — a Kevin Durant 3 right in your mug. It was the year they became a super-team, the standard for the league.

And this year has been … a grind.

Don’t take that the wrong way. The Warriors are actually now, as owner Joe Lacob prematurely once said, “light years” ahead of the rest of the league. Until further notice, conversations about the finals will begin with “The Warriors and … ”

We will, and should, revel in the joy of it all. This is a team that doesn’t mutter about who gets the credit or complain about not seeing the ball enough. They cut and move, make an extra pass and have every old-time ball coach in America saying, “Now that’s how this game should be played.”

But call me a crank, I keep thinking back to the end of the season, when some cracks appeared in the smoothest facade in sports.

You’ll recall it was run-out-the-string time in the schedule. The team wasn’t going to have the best record in the Western Conference and didn’t seem to be concerned about it. Since the final games wouldn’t affect playoff standings, they could coast.

And they did, playing some of the worst basketball seen in Oracle Arena since the days of Joe Barry Carroll. They didn’t just look careless; they looked indifferent.

It was finally too much for coach Steve Kerr and he called them out. He rated their effort “pathetic” and an “embarrassment.” It was a real woodshed moment.

And the players basically said, “Nah. We’re good.”

The effort didn’t improve. Kerr made a point to back off his comments and say he didn’t mean to attack anyone’s character.

They nonchalanted their way to the end of the schedule.

It all blew over. And by the way, you know when the players said they’d turn it on when it counted? That when the big games were played, they’d be as fierce and committed as ever?

They were right. Three rings in four years. That’s the answer to that question.

But it was a moment when the team tuned the coach out. Which is always a concern.

Kerr, I will say impartially, is a genius. His handling of these guys — upbeat, smart and hip — is masterful. The system he preaches — ball movement, smart shots and up-tempo — define the success of this team.

But there’s always that fear — particularly with young, fabulously wealthy men — that they get tired of hearing the same voice.

Or, and this may be scarier, that Kerr gets tired of being that voice and decides to take his double handful of championship rings and go into a less stressful line of work.

It is a weird thing to say, but these title runs have become a little … well, monotonous. Same opponent, same buildings, same hype. No way you bring the hyper-excitement and energy to your fourth consecutive finals.

So — after first stipulating that this is a great and admirable team — there are some concerns. Durant and Klay Thompson answered the questions over and over during the NBA Finals. No, they aren’t thinking of free agency. They are going to stay with the Warriors.

But you know dark forces are gathering on their shoulders. You should be featured, man, have your own team. And you know you will be taking less money if you stay. It is time for you to get paid.

Now, there is no reason to doubt either of them. Thompson and Durant are interesting cats. Lots of off-the-court interests and a real appreciation for the Bay Area. My guess is they stay. But keep an eye on it.

It’s a delicate balance for players. On one hand, they hold all the cards. But on the other, their perception may not match with the guys signing the checks.

Take the absolute, slam-dunk free-agency signing of James. Conventional wisdom is that he will rent a place in the Hamptons, receive suitors and accept whomever showers him with the most cash and compliments.

It says here it may not be that simple. James is 33 and if the finals showed anything, it was that he gets tired.

He still dominates the ball, takes defensive plays off and barks at his teammates, who frankly did not look inspired by him. If anything, they looked cowed and nervous.

There is already a little backing away from LBJ. Houston has put out the word it won’t have the available money. Los Angeles, everybody’s top choice, hasn’t sounded enthusiastic. GM Magic Johnson is an alpha male and may not relish clashing with the opinionated James. And then there’s the Ball family.

The point is, even the current most dominant player in the NBA faces a bit of an uncertain future. Things can happen.

If nothing else, it is a reason to enjoy and appreciate this season. It may not have been the rocket shot of 2015, but it was a wonderful run.

I liked what Durant said after Game 4.

I didn’t understand it, but I liked it.

“I feel like I did something that pulled back into this Earth,” Durant said. “I pull good energy back into the Earth when I go and work hard every day on my game, and I care about the game. And I watch basketball and care for my teammates and we care for each other. I think we’re doing something good in this world.”

Hey, Kevin. The Earth says, “Back at you.”

Contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

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