When the Golden State Warriors won their third championship in four years in 2018, amidst all the celebration, Dwyane Wade -- who was was watching the game from the sidelines -- walked up to Stephen Curry and offered some wise words. The Warriors were a juggernaut team who looked like they could win another three championships after that, but Wade offered some cold hard truth in that moment of happiness.
"Nothing lasts forever," Wade said via The Undefeated. "We just came off that same high they were on. I wanted to let him know to enjoy it because it's not ever guaranteed to be this way for the rest of your career."
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Who knew Wade would be foreshadowing what would end up being three brutal years for Golden State.
"That is a message that is real," Curry said. "When you're on top, it's hard to see anything other than when you're on top and being in that environment. Atmosphere is everything. That's the energy and the juice and a level of basketball that you appreciate the most. So when you get on the other side and you're trying to get back there, you do have an appreciation for the climb and for what that journey is. But I got what he's saying. And not to take any of those years for granted, you remember how hard it is to win in this league and to get to that level."
After winning the 2018 NBA Finals, the Warriors reloaded and made another Finals appearance in 2019, only to lose sharpshooting guard Klay Thompson to a torn ACL in the process. The Raptors hoisted the trophy that year after beating Golden State in six games, and Kevin Durant left in free agency for the Brooklyn Nets shortly after. Entering the 2019-20 season, the Warriors were already down Thompson for the entire season as he rehabbed from the ACL injury, and Curry missed significant time with a broken wrist. It resulted in the Golden State missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
This season, the Warriors were expected to get Thompson back healthy, but then he suffered a torn Achilles tendon right before training camp, keeping him sidelined for a second consecutive season. However, Curry's MVP-level play this year has kept the Warriors in the hunt for a playoff spot, as they sit three games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 10th seed, which means they'll have to go through the play-in tournament to actually reach the playoffs. While Curry and the Warriors aren't used to fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot in recent years, those championships years are what's fueling the two-time league MVP.
"They are great memories for sure," Curry said. "We're two years removed from the '19 Finals, three years from winning in '18. I still remember what it's like at the level. I want to get back there. So, that's the motivation."
Getting back to the NBA Finals may not happen this season, but Curry is confident in the Warriors' future once this team is back at full strength again.
"Look around. We can contend," Curry said. "We have a lot of growing to do for the rest of this season, see what happens. Going into next year, getting Klay back, get healthy, some pieces. We got a lot left in the tank."