If you thought the triumph and jubilation of signing Kevin Durant in free agency would erase the disappointment the Golden State Warriors felt when they lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals, you thought wrong.
That loss, that letdown, is still fresh—especially for reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry. As he told USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
“I still haven’t gotten over Game 7,” Curry told USA TODAY Sports during a break in the shoot. “That’s something that will stay with me pretty much forever, for good and bad reasons. Obviously you hated the feeling, but it’s also a motivator to come back even stronger and try not to have that feeling again.
“I’m at that point now where I can try to fuel any kind of terrible nightmares or thoughts about Game 7 into motivation for how I’m going to prepare myself for this year.”
Typical stuff here. The Warriors just aren’t going to get over the Game 7 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They aren’t just going to forgive themselves for blowing a 3-1 series lead. They were the best regular-season team in NBA history. They had three opportunities to close out their second consecutive championship. They were a heartbeat away from being on the brink of a dynasty.
That type of pain and regret sticks with you, no matter the circumstances or your future prospects. That includes signing Kevin Durant.
But, you know, the Warriors still signed Kevin Durant. That has to make things for Steph and company at least slightly easier.
After all, if the Warriors win a title, it’s less likely that Durant joins their cause. He has a tough enough time selling his decision as this team’s missing piece after it lost to the Cavaliers. Neither he nor the Warriors would have been able to peddle anything else if Golden State’s season didn’t end in defeat.
So that Game 7 loss, that Finals collapse, is bittersweet for the Warriors. They traded in one championship for a chance to win many, many more. It’s not the perfect end result; there was collateral damage. But the Warriors are still better now than they were then—much better.