The Golden State Warriors ended 40 years of futility Tuesday night, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-97, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
It was the franchise’s first NBA title since 1975.
“It really was a magical season,” former NBA great and current Warriors consultant Jerry West said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “From the start of the season to the end of the season, there were very few missteps along the way. We were the better team. We had more weapons. We played it a little bit different than they did. Our players were really, really into what they were doing. I’ve said this a couple times already: I’ve never been around a group of players like this in my life. This is a really special group of people. To try to replicate what happened this year, I’m not sure that’s possible. But this team is young, there’s a lot of players on our team that can get a lot better, and I think the future bodes well for us.”
Get better? That’s a scary proposition for the rest of the NBA, mainly because the Warriors won 67 games this year.
“There’s no question that Harrison Barnes can get a lot better,” West said. “Honestly, Klay Thompson can get a lot better. If you look at the playoffs, he didn’t contribute a whole lot to us winning. He was in foul trouble the whole time. It looked like to me that he lost his confidence. But those players can really get better. I don’t think there’s any reason they can’t.”
Still, it’s been amazing to watch the Warriors progress as much as they have. The 2012 Draft was especially kind to Golden State, which used its three picks on Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli.
That’s two starters and a key reserve.
In that time, the Warriors went from being one of the worst defensive teams in the league to statistically the best.
“(Mark Jackson) did a really nice job,” West said, “but I think Steve Kerr’s staff and what they got these players to believe in showed throughout the year. As I say, there really weren’t any missteps or misfortunes that we had to overcome.”
The Warriors also had the (regular season) MVP in Steph Curry, who averaged 26.0 points in the Finals despite several off-nights.
“To me, he’s the best long-range shooter I’ve seen,” West said. “His hand-eye coordination is second-to-none. You don’t see players like him. Plus, behind that little baby face, he loves to compete, and he’s not going to give in. He’s going to continue to play. But frankly, he didn’t shoot his best. He missed some shots (that he usually makes). He’s a remarkable player. And I want to tell you: He’s a better person too on top of it. But in our locker room, you would never know that he’s the star of the show. That’s not how he presents himself. That’s not his persona.
“As I say, it’s just been a remarkable year,” West continued. “I can’t say enough about what a great group this is. . . . It’s been remarkable to watch. The people have gotten behind this team so much. They’ve always been behind us, but it’s incredible to watch how these fans have reacted to these players and our style of play.”