SAN FRANCISCO — Steph Curry had the ultimate say within the sport itself, so it solely made sense he would have the final phrase lengthy after it was over, too.

As midnight neared inside Chase Center, the place Curry and his getting old Golden State Warriors someway had survived in opposition to this upstart Memphis Grizzlies squad of their 110-96 closeout win in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, the 34-year-old had one final long-range try to bury earlier than he known as it a Friday evening. For three quarters, he had struggled to resolve the Grizzlies protection that left him wanting nothing like his all-time-great self.

Dillon Brooks was the primary wave, however then the assistance would at all times come: Jaren Jackson Jr. Steven Adams. All these different relentless wings. But then, an 11-point fourth quarter for Curry helped save this Warriors group that appeared outmatched for a lot of this sequence.

During our transient chat on his approach towards the exits, I relayed the truth that Brooks had finished a Father Time flex of types on his approach out.

“They know that we’re going to come every single year,” the 26-year-old Brooks mentioned after scoring 30 factors and making Curry work for all of his 29 (on 10-of-27 capturing general and 6-of-17 capturing from 3-point vary). “We’re young, and they’re getting old. So, they know we’re coming every single year.”

Curry, true to type, was prepared with a counter.

“He’s said a lot of crazy things,” Curry advised The Athletic with a smile whereas glancing at close by cameras from NBA TV. “He called himself a dynasty already, so you’ve got to figure. On to the next round. Western Conference finals, we’re back. Let’s goooo!”

In this Warriors’ renaissance period, the place they’re making an attempt to increase an precise dynasty — they received three titles in all and went to 5 consecutive Finals to earn that description — the Grizzlies shortly have turn out to be the closest factor they should a rival. The Play-In sport in 2021 was the genesis of all of it, with Memphis bouncing Golden State within the form of approach that grew to become a point of pride for all the Grizzlies.

But even earlier than that, there was the Andre Iguodala saga that set the stage for this matchup that’s equal elements mutual respect and rhetoric. The Warriors veteran, in fact, made the controversial business decision to not be part of Memphis after he was traded to the Grizzlies in July of 2019.

The younger Grizzlies took offense, with Brooks stating that Iguodala had missed out on “this dynasty.” With the Warriors’ age, it appears, comes the reminiscence of an elephant.

In reality, the fantastic thing about this matchup is that there’s an iron-sharpens-iron component either side have been keen to acknowledge. Bad blood be damned.

Even with the Gary Payton II damage that impressed Warriors coach Steve Kerr to say that Brooks had “broke the code,” or the Ja Morant knee damage in Game 3 that the Grizzlies blamed on Jordan Poole earlier than backtracking days later, the reverence reigned on either side. Draymond Green even admitted afterward that he’d initially deliberate on trolling the Grizzlies throughout his closeout sport press convention, spending “multiple days” concocting references to “Grit and Grind” and “Whoop That Trick” in his thoughts that may have been good for a couple of petty Warriors laughs. In the top, although, he couldn’t assist however heap reward upon this group that isn’t going anyplace anytime quickly.

“The only thing I can do is give my respect to that team; they earned that,” Green mentioned. “You know, there was a variety of speak on this sequence of fouls and this and that, and this needs to be reviewed and that needs to be reviewed. I feel it actually began to remove from what was a very nice, nice, sequence with two superb groups.

“That’s a group of young guys who — obviously, you get to the business side of things, and you’ve got to keep that together — but that’s a group of young guys that are hungry. They are talented. They are athletic. They got it. You know, it will be good to see their progression over these next few years and where they can take it, because that’s an incredible young team. You know, they can be special. They can be really special.”

The Warriors know they escaped right here, that they struggled with the dynamic model of the Grizzlies that included Morant and the one which’s even better without him defensively. Acrimonious historical past apart, Curry was no totally different than Green when it got here to the way in which he sees this Memphis group that has such a vibrant future.

“I have a lot of respect for every single guy on the team in terms of how they are built as a group, the individual talent,” Curry mentioned in his press convention. “They have a variety of vitality, a variety of potential by way of profitable on the highest stage.

“They were the higher seed for a reason. They had an amazing regular season and dominated throughout the course of those 82 games. For us to be able to come out of the series with a W, like, there’s definitely respect. There’s definitely an understanding that they made us better. I’m sure we made them better. And who knows what happens down the road, but they will be here for a long time just because they have a lot going for them. So, definitely respect.”

Midway via Curry’s press convention, Morant shared that very same feeling by means of his Twitter account.

“He’s a problem,” Curry mentioned of Morant when advised in regards to the tweet. “I imply, his numbers are loopy. We have been up 2-1 (within the sequence), so (they) nonetheless had confidence we might end out the sequence. But he requires your entire consideration. … Sky’s the restrict.

“Like I said, they are going to be around for a long time, you know, fighting for Western Conference prowess. … We’ll enjoy this and keep moving towards our goal, but you have to understand that they are going to be around for the long haul, and he’s a problem. So, definitely an amazing matchup, fun, entertaining, high-level basketball, all the antics and pettiness and all that stuff. I love all of it.”

Make no mistake, Memphis was hurting after this one. The Warriors’ adjustment to begin Kevon Looney alongside Green within the frontcourt modified every little thing for them defensively, and Klay Thompson’s newest Game 6 heroics (30 factors, 8 of 14 from 3-point vary) performed an enormous half within the Warriors’ win. But reality be advised, you might inform the Grizzlies believed they have been the higher group. And after that Game 5 beatdown in Memphis during which they led by as many as 55 factors, who might blame them?

As the Grizzlies gamers got here off the ground, their common supervisor and just lately named NBA Executive of the Year, Zach Kleiman, hugged every certainly one of them earlier than they headed into the locker room. Coach Taylor Jenkins spent greater than 10 minutes addressing his group within the locker room afterward.

Jackson had a revealing second throughout Brooks’ press convention when he sat among the many reporters whereas ready for his flip on the podium and took exception to a query in regards to the Warriors that got here his teammate’s approach: “Do you feel it was their experience, as much as anything else, that (explains) how they were able to turn it around in their favor?” the reporter requested Brooks.

Jackson, looking at his telephone, blurted out, “Hell nah.”

When he lastly sat in entrance of the microphone, Jackson made it clear that there’s far more to return on this fiery entrance.

“A team like the Warriors, I’ve been seeing win since I don’t know how long, since I’ve been alive. Since I was younger, I was watching them win championships and play with each other and have a nice offense,” he mentioned. “But now I’m here, we’re here. So, (we’ll) see y’all again. I mean, the story continues, and we’re just amped to get back out there. That’s what it is. We’ll be there.”

(Photo of Steph Curry and Dillon Brooks: Cary Edmondson / USA Today)

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