Weakened Warriors

They fought with valor to represent a community in need of glory. They repelled several challengers out to diminish the status atop the royal court. When vanquished, their response was swift and total. But I do not come here to bury the Warriors. I stand before you with patience, intrigued to see what a new incarnation of this entity will become.

There's no doubt that many teams and fan bases around the NBA have been foaming at the mouth for this moment. Over the five seasons which Golden State made the Finals, they appeared to be on the forefront of a basketball revolution. They also made a whole lot of enemies. Am I a fan of this particular team? Yes. However, they weren't short on confidence and arrogance.

Even if you're someone waiting on this franchise's demise, the first ten days of the 2019-2020 season couldn't have gone any better. The Warriors are 1-5. Of those five losses, four were by double digits. Coach Steve Kerr said before the season that he thought it was "unlikely" Klay Thompson would return (from the knee injury he suffered in the Finals) at any point this season. Stephen Curry broke his hand on an awkward fall and is out months after having surgery. Draymond Green is currently out with a finger injury. So, is this the end of Golden State's reign of ... (power/terror/insert your own declarative here)?

No matter the decade or length of time, every great run comes to an end. It's the "how long" of it that varies. For some of these franchise championship runs, the finality was more of a fade away than a complete pivot.

• The Minneapolis Lakers of the early 1950s had one more winning season and three more playoff appearances before sliding to a 19-53 record in 1957-1958.
• The Boston Celtics of the 1960s fell under .500 (34-48) the season after their last title in 1969. With John Havlicek around, they rebounded quickly to make the playoffs two years later and win two more titles by 1976.
• The Boston Celtics of the 1980s made the NBA Finals the year after winning it al in 1986. There would be six more playoff appearances before the organization finally fell below .500 in 1993-1994.
• The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s lost in the Finals the year after completing their back-to-back in 1988. The franchise would make the playoffs four more times (despite a losing record in 1992-1993) before missing out in 1994.
• The Los Angeles Lakers of the 2000s (centered around Kobe Bryant) made the postseason three straight years after winning the 2010 title. The organization is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2013.
• The San Antonio Spurs of the early 21st century (yes, it covered that long) continue to be a postseason fixture, having qualified each year since their last title in 2014.

There's one instance that stands out from the others. The Chicago Bulls of the 1990s immediately fell into a vortex of awful. After winning the 1998 championship, the successive team started 1-8. The franchise would go on to a 13-37 record in that strike-shortened 1998-1999 campaign. It actually got worse the next time around (17-65). The franchise did not return to the postseason until 2005.

While the Warriors have started out on a similar line to the post-dynasty Bulls, there is a big thing to note. In all of the other instances above, there was some continuation or transfer of star power. That '98-'99 Bulls squad lost Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and head coach Phil Jackson.

The current-day Warriors don't feel like they're done just yet. As I mentioned, Curry, Thompson, and Green are out at this moment. However, all of them are expected to return at some point. They're all under contract. They're all still in their relative primes. And they've all got coach Steve Kerr running the show.

Will those returns be enough to reignite that previous reign? Probably not. Will they be enough to put this franchise back to title contention? I think so. So, enjoy the fun now, NBA. The Warriors may be down, but they ain't dead yet.

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