I can't tell you tonight's Game Six home loss to the San Antonio Spurs broke my heart. In order for a heart to be broken, one must fully dedicate it to another party—a person, a career, or in this case, a sports team.
My heart was not fully dedicated to the 2012-13 Golden State Warriors.
Why not, when the ballclub put together its best all-round season since 1993-94, when you combine regular and post-season success? How could I not jump in, mind, body and soul, behind this feisty, scrappy collection of youngsters whose team picture will be printed alongside at least four words (overachieve, upset, confident, gunner) in next year's Webster's?
How could I honestly call myself a Warriors fan of 22 years and feel not one grievous pang after witnessing what has to stand among the most painful, Cora-Rodriguez-level losses in franchise history—including Philadelphia?
(That refers to the 1995 Seattle Mariners, whose shocking playoff run ended in six games against Cleveland in the ALCS. So distraught was 2B Joey Cora, he openly sobbed in the dugout and was consoled by 21-year-old rookie reserve Alex Rodriguez. But I'm not here to talk about the past.)
A) I'm still not convinced this amazing season actually happened, and
B) I'm terrified of giving my heart back to the Dubs after having it ripped apart like a Yoplait seal in the past.
I think back to all the magic moments of this past season. Knocking off the world champion Heat on December 12 as part of a 6-1 road trip. Klay Thompson's game-winning corner three against Sac on March 6. Holding the Knicks to 63 points on March 12. The March 17 blowout of the Rockets, avenging three previous (ugly) losses. David Lee's All-Star nod. Lee not takin' no guff from Indiana's Roy Hibbert. All of Jarrett Jack's flips and floaters; all of Carl Landry's flexes, all of Steph Curry's floor-stretching triples.
And that's before the playoff series versus Denver, where Harrison Barnes reverse-dunked on Tony Randolph out of the halfcourt, Andrew Bogut showed more animal than a Steve Irwin special, Landry performed the best lying-on-the-court display of emotion since Dikembe Mutombo and Lee personally reduced the NBA season to four games (after wrecking his hip against Denver he was declared out for the season and missed four games. What other conclusion is there?)
Just to name a few.
There was so much magic in the air (I hope that doesn't sound lame) and yet, I continued to recall 1994 and 2007. The last two Warrior playoff teams before this one. Two of the last three Warrior teams over .500 before this one (often overlooked: the 48-win 2007-08 squad that, thanks to a deep Western conference, missed the postseason while 37-win Atlanta, who had two winning months out of six and went 12-29 on the road, got in.)
The 1994 team won 50 games but was a total train wreck one year later, and stayed that way for many, many years. The 2007 team waited an extra year before coming off the rails.
My mind knows this is a new era, with new ownership, an entirely different coaching/management team, and a young, hungry roster whose heads all seem to be screwed on straight. Only Curry's glass ankles seem capable of impeding their progress.
My heart, however, still acknowledges that these are the Warriors and the Warriors have proven adept at finding ways to screw up good fortune. That is why I cannot love this team as I did in '94 and '07-08. Support them, yes. Cheer them? Of course. Call in sick to work tomorrow as the devastation over their elimination hasn't subsided in the least, as I did six years ago?
Not quite there.
It wouldn't surprise me at all to open the S.F. Chronicle or S.J. Mercury News on June 20th and read Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut were traded to the Nets for Gerald Wallace and cash. It's the sort of thing I've come to expect over the past two decades, and as impressed, entertained and pleased as the 2012-13 Warriors left me, it'll take a long stretch of managerial commitment and competence for me to expect any different.
Here's hoping that stretch is already underway...
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