“What a historic season.”
Those were the words NBA commissioner Adam Silver used before presenting the Larry O’ Brien Trophy to the 2014-15 NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.
After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 for a 4-2 series win at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday night, the Warriors hoisted a trophy that hasn’t been held in the hands of a Bay Area team in over 40 years. That drought was the longest in league history.
The last year this franchise won The Finals, "Saturday Night Live" premiered on NBC with host George Carlin; a loaf of bread cost 33 cents; a guy with the last name Jobs and his friend with the last name Wozniak began working on computer designs and developed the Apple 1 prototype; people paid money for pet rocks and mood rings.
Tuesday’s series-clinching victory featured every aspect of play that falls under this Warriors team’s brand of basketball.
The scoring was balanced early, with each starter making a shot and the team as a whole going 4 of 9 from 3-point range and turning nine turnovers into 14 points en route to a 28-15 first quarter advantage.
Despite losing the second quarter and falling behind 47-45 in the early minutes of the third, the Warriors were unfazed, going on a 16-5 run and opened a 15-point lead on the Cavaliers. Entering the game, Golden State was 57-0 this season whenever they took a 15-point advantage during a game.
Andre Iguodala, named Finals MVP, was incredible. Not only did he hit a season-high of 25 points — three more than the previous mark he set in Game 4 — but he was the catalyst for the offense when it lulled and kept the pace where the Warriors wanted it the entire night. Iguodala averaged 16.3 points per game this series, and became the first player in league history to win Finals MVP after not starting a single game during the regular season.
He, along with Draymond Green’s 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the 25 bench points from Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa, helped maintain the high level of output the Warriors offense required to be successful while Klay Thompson battled foul trouble all night.
MVP Stephen Curry dropped 25 points, catching fire like he always does when his team needs it most, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter alone.
They assisted on 28 baskets. They shot nearly 40 percent from downtown. They held their opposing team's offense under 40 percent from the field. They set the tempo, dictated the matchups, and weathered yet another monstrous performance from LeBron James.
It was the culmination of a truly dominant year of basketball as the Warriors became only the third team all-time to win 83 games in a season (67 in the regular season; 16 in the playoffs). Rookie head coach Steve Kerr became the second coach in league history to win The Finals the first year on the job, capping off his regular season in which he boasted the most wins and best winning percentage any first-year coach has ever had.
So let the celebration continue, and let the Champagne flow to commemorate the work of the Splash Brothers, Kerr, and their jump-shooting team that makes old basketball fans reconsider their preconceived notions of what a successful basketball team is supposed to look and play like.
The Bay Area has a new piece of gold in its trophy room now, and this one, well, this one won’t be crossing the Bay Bridge anytime soon.