OAKLAND — Three days after winning the 2017 NBA title, the typically reserved Golden State Warriors backcourt embraced the atmosphere of Oakland’s second championship parade in three years.
Without the pressure Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry faced all season to deliver another trophy to the Bay Area, they followed the lead of Draymond Green in unwinding before an estimated crowd of one-to-two-million fans.
“We champs,” Curry screamed twice to conclude his post-parade speech, drawing a roar from the crowd.
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“Kudos to the toaster guy,” Thompson joked in reference to the fan that asked him to sign a kitchen appliance earlier this season, after which the Warriors went 31-2.
Green, who stole the show during the 2015 parade with an infamous rant about the Cleveland Cavaliers, injected his own special brand of jabs.
He wore a black t-shirt with “Quickie” written on it, a shot at Cleveland’s rapid finals elimination after they bested Golden State in a seven-game series last year. His custom T-shirt emulated the logo of Quicken Loans, the company that holds the name sponsorship for the Cavaliers’ arena.
Later, Green took aim at Lebron James’ remark earlier this week that he’d never played on a superteam despite his time with the Miami Heat alongside All Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Holding a personal microphone for his rally speech, Green chided James for the comment and argued Warriors GM Bob Myers deserved more credit for assembling a title-winning roster some have criticized following the acquisition of star forward Kevin Durant.
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“Would someone give Bob [Myers] some fucking credit,” Green shouted. “[James] wants to talk about ‘Super team this, super team that. I never played on a super team.’ You started the super team, bro!”
The expressiveness from Curry, Thompson and Green reflected their newfound ease after a tiresome campaign.
While Golden State played down the stress they felt during the season, David West acknowledged the championship victory lifted a weight off the team’s collective shoulders. The 36-year-old joined the Warriors last summer having never won a title in his 13 years in the league.
“I’ve been really enjoying these last few days,” West said. “We came together to win [a title], and that’s hard to do in terms of having that expectation [to come through] or bust. Even when we didn’t articulate that as a group, we knew that was our goal.”
For players such as Curry who were part of Golden State’s collapse in the 2016 Finals, when the Warriors squandered a 3-1 series lead, earning redemption provided added satisfaction.
Curry scored 22.6 points per game and shot just 40 percent from the field in last year’s finals. This season, he scored 26.8 points per contest and shot 44 percent, helping Golden State cruise past the Cavaliers in five games.
“We waited two long years,” Curry said to the crowd gathered around Lake Merritt. “I remember exactly where I was this time last year. It wasn’t a great feeling. But everything that we went through … makes this day so much sweeter.”
As the Warriors enjoyed the festivities, though, they also signaled a hunger for turning what they have into an undeniable dynasty. After recording the most wins in a three-season stretch in NBA history, they want another parade bus ride down Broadway in 2018.
“Same time next year,” owner Peter Guber announced to fans, “We’ll see you.”
Perhaps Golden State doesn’t mind the pressure of heightened expectations after all.
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