SAN FRANCISCO—These NBA playoffs have been about the next generation.
LeBron James, 37, is at home, tweeting through his boredom. Kevin Durant, 33, was swept in the first round. (He always finds time for social media.) James Harden’s hard living on and off the court has zapped him of his superpowers at 32 and played a huge role in the Sixers’ second-round playoff exit.
This has become the spring of the young guns: 23-year-old Luka Doncic, 24-year-old Jason Tatum, 25-year-old Devin Booker and the well-established Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is just 27.
So what on earth are the Warriors still doing hanging around?
The Warriors might have a couple of young, exciting players, but as we saw in Golden State’s effort to close out the young, exciting Grizzlies (led by 22-year-old Ja Morant), there’s nothing new about this winning machine.
Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks, 26, didn’t have any problem coming out and calling the Warriors what they are.
“They’re getting old,” he said after being sent home.
Getting? Buddy, this team is there.
Klay Thompson has had major surgeries on both legs and wants to spend all his time on his boat.
That’s some serious old-man energy.
Draymond Green’s hair has a lot more salt alongside the pepper and his podcasts are longer than his stints on the court these days. Green already has a job lined up for retirement.
That’s good life planning—a trademark of the old.
Steph Curry is still an assassin, but he’s grown out of the babyface. He’s getting so old that one of his side projects is rebooting the classic 1970s sitcom Good Times.
That’s the oldest thing I’ve ever heard. Imagine explaining “Buffalo Butt” to 22-year-old Jordan Poole.
Even the young(er) players on the Warriors — the guys in their primes — are old. Andrew Wiggins, 27, has a gray hair in his beard that’s been driving me crazy since the start of the postseason, and no one in the history of basketball is better at conserving their energy. Kevon Looney, 26, plays a definitive old man game that looks like it was taken out of your local church league.
I’ve known Looney since the day after he was drafted in 2015. I’m still convinced he’s actually 15 years older than me (and I’m the oldest 33-year-old in this media game).
Knowing this team, it was no surprise to hear the Warriors channeling their Roger Murtaugh after Friday night’s Game 6 win over Memphis.
And while no one is too old for winning, unnecessary games, chasing around younger players, four-and-a-half-hour plane rides? They’re over that.
“I did not want to get back on a plane,” Green said. “It was less about playing Memphis and more about getting on a four-and-a-half-hour flight. I just didn’t want to get on… Brutal.”
Thompson echoed the sentiment: “It’s a long flight to Memphis. We spent a lot of time at the Hyatt.”
Curry called the Warriors’ four-day break over the weekend “pretty special.” He said he plans on kicking his feet up and watching both Game 7 on Sunday. I bet he falls asleep in the chair.
“At our age, we’ll take all the rest we can get,” Thompson said.
Are these guys in their 30s or 60s?
The Warriors might not be calling this playoff run their last hurrah, but this core doesn’t sound like a group that has another multi-year run in them. And that’s ok. It’s not like they’re not already basketball immortals.
Thompson was downright sentimental after Friday’s game: “I love playing basketball at the highest level. Our careers — we are not singers, we are not actors. We can’t do this until our elder years. So while we’re doing it, you just have to appreciate every single night because it goes really fast.”
Yes, these Warriors are anything but the fresh, brash group that took the league by storm.
No, along with Phoenix’s Chris Paul, they’re the last bastion of the old guard.
But the Warriors are holding it down a lot better than Paul, who has fallen apart in Phoenix’s series with the Mavericks. Credit good luck, excellent conditioning, or that go-to catch-all — veteran savvy — but the Warriors are in good shape heading into the Western Conference Finals.
There might be some serious miles on the beat-up pickup truck that is the Warriors — a decade together for the core three, plus five Finals runs will run up that odometer. But this postseason, it’s exactly what’s been needed.
Winning in the NBA playoffs is a dirty job, after all.
It’s something these kids just wouldn’t understand, but the Warriors would be more than happy to teach them.