Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green took some time during Wednesday's NBA Finals Media Day to reflect on the evolution of their once-mocked franchise since their arrival.
Curry was drafted in 2009, Klay Thompson followed in 2011, before Green was selected in 2012, setting the foundation for one of the league's greatest dynasties.
After announcing themselves on the world stage through gutsy performances against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 playoffs and a seven-game series against the 'Lob City' Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, the Warriors began a five-year streak of making the NBA Finals, winning titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
When asked about his thoughts on the Warriors before he was drafted, Curry admitted he truly believed he was going to be selected by the New York Knicks, and discussed the turmoil that followed his selection.
"What did I think about the organisation? I didn't think much about it," he said.
"I grew up on the east coast, so I mean I watched games, but all I really knew was the 'We Believe' team, and the Baron Davis dunk, and beating Dallas [in 2007].
"When I got drafted I thought I was going to New York, and I didn't really have Golden State on the radar at all.
"Then there was a lot of drama with my rookie year, with a potential Phoenix trade on draft night, [if] me and Monte [Ellis] could play together as a small back-court – 'can we play together?' – and obviously what his answer was at the time."
In a 2009 interview, Ellis replied "we just can't" when asked if he can see himself and Curry playing together, going on to say they "are not going to win that way".
Curry continued: "So there's a lot going on in that sense, but to see the evolution from that year to now, and the fact that six out of the last eight years we've been in the Finals. It's crazy to think about, for sure.
"It speaks to all the different people who have played a part in that – myself, Draymond, Klay, Andre, all the vets who have played significant roles for us, our front office… it's been an amazing run, and we obviously feel like we have a lot left in the tank, that's why we're here."
The Dubs are the fourth franchise in NBA history to make six finals in an eight-year span— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 30, 2022
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Green arrived three years after Curry, but he had similar stories, going as far as calling the Warriors "the laughing stock of the NBA".
"I knew [Golden State] won 23 games the year before, and they were the laughing stock of the NBA – but I also knew they had two guys who could really shoot the lights out of the ball," he said.
"Everybody was like man, we were the last-ranked defense in the league, we won 23 games last season, we've been to the playoffs one time in 10 or 11 years – that was kind of the aura that was around.
"We just came in hungry, we wanted to change that, and we did. But it wasn't always this.
"I remember walking downtown Oakland giving away tickets to the game as a rookie – for one of our team activation or community things we had to do – certain guys had to go to the park and give tickets away.
"I remember that, it wasn't that long ago. It was a much less-respected franchise, but we were able to change that, and that's what it's all about."
It wasn't all looking backwards for Green, though, as he also shared his respect for the Boston Celtics and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart.
"You respect and admire that everyone is defending – there is not a guy who comes on the floor that isn't giving 110 per cent on that side of the ball," he said.
"You have to give a lot of respect to [coach] Ime [Udoka] – that's not a much different squad than we've seen… since Kyrie left. It's not a much different team, yet more has been required of them, and they've answered that bell.
"You have to give a lot of credit to them, and you have to give a lot of credit to Marcus Smart, who is their leader on that side of the ball.
"In order to have everyone come in and play [hard], there has to be some leadership there that's holding it all together, and is holding somebody responsible, and to me I think that's Marcus Smart… I appreciate that more than anything."