LeBron James and the Lakers likely ended the Warriors’ dynasty
It’s a great accomplishment, not to mention a great feeling when a team defeats the defending NBA champions and knocks them out of the playoffs. That’s exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers did on Friday night when they sent the Golden State Warriors packing for the summer with a 122-101 rout in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
But something that is even better than that is ending such a team’s championship reign that spans multiple years and rings.
Over the last nine years, the Warriors have been the league’s reigning dynasty, and they certainly have lots to be proud of with four world titles and six trips to the NBA Finals. But their dynasty seems to be on life support, as there were symptoms of illness dating back to October.
During training camp, Draymond Green punched guard Jordan Poole, which was caught on video and went viral. Poole was given a lucrative contract extension shortly afterward, which led many to surmise that Green’s days with the team are numbered. He has a player option for next season that he can turn down in order to become a free agent this summer.
If Green leaves Golden State, it will not win anything of consequence without him. He has been an integral Swiss Army knife, not to mention its emotional and spiritual leader since its reign began.
Even worse, executive Bob Myers’ current contract expires in June, and he hasn’t been able to come to terms with the organization on a new deal.
While the Warriors seem to be headed in one direction, LeBron James and company are seemingly headed upward and onward.
The Warriors could be yet another team James has broken
Some have suggested that James should be given the nickname “The Ring-Giver” because he has won titles with three different organizations and has had many different teammates on each of his four championship-winning teams.
But perhaps he should also be called “The Team Breaker.”
Throughout his 20-year career, James had handed a number of championship-caliber teams playoff defeats, which were immediately followed by a breakup of those team’s cores.
The Boston Celtics of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were one of the league’s best teams in the late 2000s, winning a ring in 2008 and nearly winning another one in 2010. James’ Heat knocked them out of the playoffs in the second round of the 2011 playoffs, then overcame a 3-2 deficit against them in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. 2012 turned out to be that group’s last gasp, as Allen joined, of all teams, James and the Heat the following season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had a talented young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden that reached the NBA Finals in 2012 and had an extremely bright future. But James’ Heat defeated them there in five games, and months later, Harden was shipped to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder would never reach the championship series again.
Harden’s Rockets became title contenders soon after his arrival. In 2018, they were one game and possibly a Chris Paul injury away from getting to the NBA Finals, and in 2019 they traded Paul for Westbrook in an attempt to get over the hump. But James and the Lakers knocked them out of the second round of the 2020 playoffs in five games, and several months later both Westbrook and Harden left town.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire