OAKLAND (AP) — The shortest offseason in Golden State Warriors history was filled with talk show appearances, golf outings with the president, award shows and worldwide travel.
Just over three months after celebrating their first NBA championship in 40 years, the Warriors returned to work Monday intent on repeating.
With almost every significant player back again this season and a full year of experience in coach Steve Kerr’s system, the Warriors believe they can be even better despite the bright target on their backs as defending champions.
No one expects it to come easy.
“We can’t think we’re going to be the same team and show up and win 67 games and win a championship,” MVP point guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s not going to be easy. For us, it’s about doing what we do well and doing it better.”
Curry had an eventful summer. He toured China, extended his new sponsorship deal with Under Armour, attended the Kid’s Choice and ESPY award shows and appeared on talk shows like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
That was all secondary to birth of his second daughter, Ryan Carson, and a special golf date on Martha’s Vineyard with President Barack Obama.
“That was a very cool experience to just talk to him and get to know him and learn from his experience as a president and get kind of a behind-the-scenes feel of what he’s really like as a person,” Curry said. “That was fun.”
Now it’s back to work less than 15 weeks after the Warriors won the title by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the NBA Finals.
“It feels like the championship parade was last Tuesday,” center Andrew Bogut said. “It’s been a busy summer for everybody but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Bogut spent his summer helping Australia qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Other players spent the time resting their bodies, adding new wrinkles to their games and enjoying the spoils of the championship.
While winning the title provided confidence, the challenge this season for the Warriors will be staying sharp through the entire regular season knowing how hard the grind of the playoffs can be.
“We won’t be complacent,” All-Star guard Klay Thompson said. “Guys on this team are too competitive. We tasted winning, and we’re kind of addicted.”
Now Golden State wants to build on one of the best seasons in NBA history. With a 67-15 record in the regular season followed by a run through the playoffs when they were never once extended to a seventh game, the Warriors’ 83 wins were the third most combined in NBA history, trailing only the 1996-97 and 97-98 Chicago Bulls teams led by Michael Jordan.
Kerr was a reserve on those teams and knows well the challenge of trying to repeat. To combat the fatigue that comes from a shortened offseason, Kerr will not be holding two-a-day practices like last year in a move welcomed by his players.
“You can’t come into training camp thinking you’re playing until only April 15,” forward Draymond Green said. “You can do it, but it’s probably not a good idea. I think that’s a great decision by coach.”
NOTES: F Harrison Barnes remains hopeful he will sign a contract extension before the deadline at the end of October. “I have no complaints. I’m confident everything is going to work out,” he said. ... The Warriors officially announced the signing of free agent guard Ben Gordon. Gordon averaged 6.2 points per game last season in Orlando and will compete for a roster spot. ... The players are excited to work with two-time MVP Steve Nash, who was hired as a part-time player development coach. “Maybe he can show me things that I don’t see on the floor,” Curry said.