Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
The scene Thursday night in Oakland was shocking, uncomfortable, and surreal. As Drew Shiller and I hosted the postgame edition of Warriors Outsiders on the court, full of confetti following a Raptors' NBA title celebration, we learned of Klay Thompson's torn ACL. The mood of our show, which had already started with a confusing and unfamiliar feel, suddenly turned somber.
Warriors staff, security and workers surrounding us shared hugs and emotional moments as they said goodbye to a whole era of Oracle Arena. Meanwhile, about 20 yards to our right, Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry gleefully laughed as they rightfully savored their championship moment. Surreal.
Oddly enough, I believe the Warriors losing in six games of the NBA Finals was one of the greatest accomplishments this team has produced in five historic years. To show such great resiliency, faced with insurmountable adversity, was truly impressive. The Toronto Raptors are a very good, disciplined team led by an all-world talent in Leonard. And yet the Warriors, dealing with unthinkable bad luck and poor health, battled to be one bucket away from forcing a Game 7 in Toronto.
For a team that has been ridiculously ridiculed for years for having faced opponents that have dealt with injuries, the Warriors showed their greatness, even in a losing effort.
Despite all the obvious and overwhelmingly negative events that the team has faced in the last 72 hours, Warriors fans should find a glimmer of hope in how the team performed with their backs against the wall. We do not know what will happen in free agency, though it is very likely the Warriors bring back Thompson and perhaps Kevon Looney at the very least. But whatever version of the team starts opening night at the Chase Center next season, will know they have a lot to prove. And if they play anything like they did in Game 5 and 6 against Houston, or in the NBA Finals against Toronto, then not only will they be entertaining, they could be inspiring.
To me, the most disappointing part of the injuries to Kevin Durant and Thompson (besides just the human element of seeing these men go through pain and sadness), is knowing that we will not be able to watch them on the court next season, no matter what team they are on. The NBA is worse for not being able to showcase the immense talents of those two players, and simply, Warriors games will just be less fun to cover.
But at some point both Durant and Thompson will be back playing the game they love, most likely Thompson before Durant. As a fan of the NBA, I hope that they are able to recover to be who they were this postseason. You could argue that Durant and Thompson played the best basketball of their careers these last couple months, so now we wait to see if they can play at the level again.
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So now ever so quickly, before this dead season is even cold, we turn the attention to next season. The NBA Draft is next week, free agency begins the following week, and Las Vegas Summer League is right after that. We will know so much more about the future of the Warriors franchise within the next few weeks. So until then, try not to fear doom and gloom. Watch everything unfold, be patient, and try to find intrigue in the unexpected and unknown. Before long, the Warriors will be playing basketball again, and one thing is for sure, Steph Curry will be wearing the blue and gold.