It’s a great accomplishment, not to mention a great feeling when a team beats the defending NBA champions and knocks them out of the playoffs. That’s exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers did Friday night when they sent the Golden State Warriors packing for the summer. 122-101 route in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
But what’s even better is ending a team’s championship reign that spans years and rings.
Over the past nine years, the Warriors have been the reigning dynasty of the league, and they certainly have a lot to be proud of with four world titles and six trips to the NBA Finals. But their dynasty seems to be on life support, as there have been signs of illness since October.
During training camp, Draymond Green’s punching of guard Jordan Poole was caught on video and went viral. Poole was soon handed a lucrative contract extension, leading many to speculate that Green’s days with the team were numbered. He can decline a player option for next season to become a free agent this summer.
If Green leaves Golden State, it won’t have the same effect without him. He is an integral Swiss army knife, not to mention its emotional and spiritual leader since its reign began.
Even worse, executive Bob Myers’ current contract expires in June, and he has been unable to agree on a new deal with the company.
While the Warriors appear to be headed in one direction, LeBron James and company are on the up and up.
The Warriors might be another team that James breaks out with
Some have suggested that James should be given the nickname “The Ring-Giver” because he has won titles with three different organizations and had different teammates on each of his four championship-winning teams.
But perhaps he should also be called “Team Breaker”.
Throughout his 20-year career, James delivered several championship-caliber teams to playoff defeats, followed by the team’s cores crumbling.
The Boston Celtics of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were one of the league’s best teams in the late 2000s, winning a ring in 2008 and another in 2010. James’ Heat eliminated them from the playoffs. The second round of the 2011 playoffs, then overcame a 3–2 deficit against them in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. 2012 turned out to be the group’s last gasp as Allen joined James and the Heat on all teams the following season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, a talented young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, reached the NBA Finals in 2012 and had a very bright future. But James’ Heat beat them in five games, and a few months later, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder would never reach the championship series again.
Harden’s Rockets quickly became title contenders after his arrival. In 2018, they were one game and an injury away from making it to the NBA Finals with Chris Paul, and in 2019 they traded Paul for Westbrook in an attempt to get over the hump. But James and the Lakers eliminated them in the second round of the 2020 playoffs in five games, months after both Westbrook and Harden left town.