The Golden State Warriors, according to their star player and head coach, are a hot mess as they try to defend their NBA title.
“We’ve got to all get back on the same page,” coach Steve Kerr said. “For right now, anyway, we’re just scattered. It’s a pickup game out there.”
The Warriors have opened the season 6-9 and have lost all eight of their games on the road.
“Losing becomes habit if you don’t fix it,” said Steph Curry, who dropped 50 points on the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night at Footprint Arena, although it wasn’t enough as the Warriors lost 130-119. “We’re very aware of our potential and that you can’t stay in this vibe or mood for too long until you change it.”
Curry had little help from the bench, on defense or from his fellow aging stars—Draymond Green and Klay Thompson—who combined for 28 points.
To make matters worse, Curry was named in a class action suit Thursday along with fellow athletes Tom Brady, Naomi Osaka, Shohei Ohtani, David Ortiz and Shaquille O’Neal for deceptively leading consumers to invest in the crypto-based firm FTX, which recently filed for bankruptcy. The lawsuit also named the Warriors, who entered in a promotional deal with FTX earlier this year and painted the company logo on the floor at San Francisco’s Chase Center.
A Warriors spokesman said Thursday that aside from a previously planned bobblehead giveaway for fans at the arena next week, “we have paused FTX promotional assets.”
Kerr, though, couldn’t say enough good things about Curry.
“Steph is the anchor of our team and the anchor of our culture, and that won’t change,” he said. “Steph is not only one of the greatest players of all time, but he’s one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met in my life.”
The Warriors are younger and without the depth they had last June when they defeated the Boston Celtics in six games to win the title for the fourth time since 2015.
Last season, the Warriors opened 18-2, coming off two COVID-impacted seasons during which they didn’t make the playoffs. And then injuries to key players, including Curry, slowed them until they hit their stride again in the playoffs.
The Chase Center, which cost $1.6 billion and opened during the curtailed 2019-20 COVID season, is now a resounding success, having weathered more than a year without paying customers in the building because of strict health and safety protocols.
In 2010, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the franchise from Chris Cohan for $450 million and have presided over the most lucrative and winningest era in team history. Golden State is worth $6.03 billion, according to Sportico’s most recent NBA valuations, second in the league and slightly behind the New York Knicks at $6.12 billion.
It all makes what’s transpiring now seem like a mirage.
“They’re still a really good basketball team,” Suns coach Monty Williams, who will work behind Kerr this summer for the U.S. men’s team in the FIBA World Cup, said. “Their bench isn’t as experienced. But they’re athletic, quick and they can score in bunches.
“It’s just so early in the season I’m not sure it’s fair to make declarations about teams just yet.”
Still, it’s odd that there could be so little holdover from last May and June when the Warriors ran through Denver, Memphis, Dallas and Boston in the playoffs, losing a total of just six games en route to the title.
“It would be great if that stuff just carried over, but we’re human beings and we’re very complicated individually and collectively,” Kerr said. “And that’s the beauty of basketball. When it’s right. It’s right. You can feel it.”
Right now, though, “It’s lacking,” Kerr said. “They need a collective vision they can shoot for. Clearly I’ve failed at that to this point this year.”
There’s little communication or synergy. Thompson, who missed two seasons with knee and Achilles injuries, is in a prolonged slump. He’s trying to find the old magic that made him one of the league’s best shooters, but it’s possible that may not happen again. What was beautiful to watch just five months ago has been agonizing.
“We have to find the level of focus and intensity to get the job done because no one likes this feeling at all,” Curry said.
Kerr acknowledges that the Warriors are approaching the end of the line with his top three players that’s included six Finals appearances in the past eight seasons. Curry is 34 years old. Green and Thompson are 32.
“Are we at the end of the run?” Kerr asked. “Yeah. I don’t know exactly what that means. It could go on another three years, but it’s not going to go on another five or six. I think history would suggest we’re at the end of the line just based on age.”
For now, he’d take at least one more great run rather than the hot mess the Warriors are right now.