Kevin Durant’s knee injury, in combination with the uncertain timetable on his return, has people wondering if Golden State’s supersquad has been stripped of its unstoppable power.
No telling. Durant could be back in time for the playoffs. He could be fine, which means the Warriors could be fabulous, once the real banner-raising season gets here.
Makes you realize, however, that championships are not won in the offseason, no matter who gets signed or traded or otherwise stockpiled on any one team at any one time.
We already understand that because the Miami Heat won two NBA titles with the Big Three and not the fistful that LeBron James cheerily promised at the outset.
Could it be, though, that the franchise would have been shut out altogether during that superstar era if even one of the Big Three had been injured or otherwise unavailable at just the wrong time?
Think, in particular, of Chris Bosh. If his deep vein thrombosis issue had become a serious problem earlier in his career, say one year into his stay with the Heat, what might have happened?
Maybe Miami outclasses Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals anyway, but the seven-game Eastern Conference championship round with Boston required every possible contribution from everybody on the roster.
LeBron kept it alive with 45 points and 15 rebounds to win Game 6 and avoid elimination by the Celtics, but he couldn’t be expected to produce back-to-back games on that epic scale. Bosh, who had already missed nine playoff games with an abdominal strain, came back to provide much-needed relief in Game 7, scoring 19 points with eight rebounds off the bench and making 3-of-4 from three-point range.
Miami moved on and, after stopping the Thunder in five games, the championship celebration was on.
Sure, it’s all speculation what happens if one player is in and another is out for a significant stretch. You can play the same games with LeBron and Dwyane Wade at any point in the Big Three run. Wade’s injury status and how he might overcome it was a continuing theme back then.
Let’s keep it specific to Bosh in this case, however. Real specific.
The second of Miami’s back-to-back titles was all but lost in 2013 when San Antonio took a three-point lead to the final seconds of a potential Game 6 clincher in the NBA Finals.
Ray Allen pushed the game into overtime with a glorious three-pointer from the corner, the greatest shot in Heat history, but you probably remember who grabbed an offensive rebound and quickly passed the ball to where it absolutely needed to be in order to save the season. Chris Bosh.
Timing is essential when it comes to replaying and discussing these coulda, shoulda, woulda been scenarios. I’ll go back to my original premise, though.
Putting talent together in the offseason does not win championships. Keeping great players healthy and working together against what always will be difficult odds is the challenge, and it’s the same one that Golden State faces now.