SAN FRANCISCO — Six games. Six games over 20 weeks are all it took to demolish a brief but spectacular NBA dynasty, changing the structure of the league and swinging open the doors to the kingdom.
The Warriors lost Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) in June. Officially relinquished Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Durant in July. And Wednesday night, with the season already headed to a place surely unknown and probably unwanted, down went Stephen Curry.
The Warriors, so detested by so many for assembling an otherworldly roster, are now fighting a battle of attrition. And doing it uphill.
Some will call it “karma,” the inevitable outcome after the Warriors exhibited such brazen greed in adding Durant, a probable first-ballot Hall of Famer, to a roster that had won an NBA-record 73 games in 2015-16.
Others will say it’s simply the breaks of the game. Sometimes, they are good. Other times, they are cruel.
And the Warriors are being clobbered with that other side, as five of the six men who carried the team that ruled the NBA for three seasons are either gone for good or out indefinitely.
They have, in a short span of time, gone from the blessing of abundant talent to the curse of seeing it evaporate.
Draymond Green, the last of the six still standing, and barely, was uncharacteristically not available for comment late Wednesday night, perhaps because he couldn’t bear to stare into such utter bleakness so soon after losing his only trusted sidekick.
Who can blame him if he needed some time to get treatment on his tender right elbow and cranky right knee that flared up in the second quarter — and even more time to absorb the worst moment of a game the Warriors trailed from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Even Steve Kerr, the coach who can be so eloquent in times of stress and strife, seemed temporarily trapped in a daze.
“I literally just found out five minutes ago,” he said when asked about how Curry’s injury affects the rest of the season. “We’ll meet tomorrow as a staff, watch film with the team and we’ll be able to discuss all that stuff.
“Obviously, it’s been a tough start for us on many levels. So, we’re just trying to find our footing. This puts us in a tough spot, so we’ll assess it and go from there.”
That’s what a coach has to say and do. Coming less than an hour after losing his best player, there is no real upside. Kerr spoke of the next few weeks as “a great opportunity for these young guys to play — but it’s a little too much.”
It is a lot too much. And way too soon. Curry likely will miss at least six weeks.
D’Angelo Russell acknowledged the news was devastating and realizes that much of the load he shared with Curry — playing both point guard and shooting guard, providing the bulk of the offense — is now his burden alone.
“It’s tough when you have a guy like that that goes down,” Russell said. “The focal point of our offense was built around him.”
That’s about as real as it gets. The Warriors without Curry are wine without enjoyment, love without passion, time without health, Kendrick Lamar without a mic.
Already in a fight to get to .500, there is no conceivable road for the Warriors to get there without Curry. Three of their next four opponents — the unbeaten Spurs, the Trail Blazers and the Rockets — are likely playoff teams.
Shortly afterward, it’s the Jazz, the Lakers and the Celtics, all three rolling toward the postseason.
The Warriors entered this season accepting they might not see Thompson and knowing the health of Curry and Green was essential to realistic postseason possibilities. They could not lose either for a significant period of time and still have a prayer of getting there.
For five years, during which they reached five NBA Finals, the Warriors were the envy of the league.
That ended harshly in June, with Durant going down in Game 5 of The Finals and Klay Thompson limping off in Game 6, the clincher for the Toronto Raptors. Durant signed with the Nets. Iguodala was traded, Livingston bought out.
And now, four games into a new season, Curry will sit for an extended period, joining his fellow Splash Brother as a spectator.
The other side, folks, is without remorse.
How Warriors fell from NBA mastery to misery in six devastating games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area