Warriors embrace final road trip with hopes of celebrating flight home

BOSTON — For the past 10 years — through all the trades, draft picks and free-agent signings — one sight has remained consistent on the Warriors’ team plane.

Their three homegrown superstars of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green always sit at the same table, strengthening their relationship on and off the court. As the Warriors were in the air for their last road trip of this long and winding season before Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, general manager Bob Myers had to stop and remind his Hall of Fame trio how special their bond truly is.

This isn’t normal. Not in sports, not in life. The same people with the same goals for the past decade?

Appreciate greatness in the moment. Myers is.

“Bob walked past and he was like, ‘Man, you guys are funny. Y’all still sit together. Y’all don’t understand — 10 years, like does not happen. Guys still sitting together at the same table? Guys aren’t even on the same team for 10 years, let alone sitting at the same table and enjoying each other’s company, conversations and presence,’ ” Green said Wednesday before Warriors practice.

“This journey wouldn’t be the same without those two guys for me. … I couldn’t imagine sharing this journey without anyone else. We’ve always said we built this thing from the ground up. When you build something from the ground up, that’s your baby.

“I think for us, we all appreciate each other. We all understand what each of us brings to the table. And our bond, it stretches far past what we’ve accomplished on the basketball court. Those bonds will last forever. We’ re linked and connected forever.”

The Warriors drafted Curry first in 2009, followed by Thompson in 2012 and Green in 2013. In their third season together, they reached the NBA Finals and now are in the last stages of their sixth trip in the past eight seasons.

Nearly three years ago, the Warriors surprised many by taking Michigan guard Jordan Poole with the No. 28 pick in the 2019 draft. His ascension wasn’t rapid. In Year 3, though, he has become an integral part to the Warriors being one win away from him winning his first ring.

For Poole, someone who’s new to the playoffs and the finals, everything is about balance. That includes the plane ride for one more road game, with his focus on making sure the ride back to San Francisco is that much sweeter.

“Trying to have a good balance of still being locked in and kind of like what [Draymond] was saying, appreciate the moment and embracing everything,” Poole said. ‘Being where your feet are and talking to these guys about the moment and really accepting it.

“And it’s cool, obviously, but we are here to win one more game, finish it and hopefully have a better plane ride back.”

Like Poole, Andrew Wiggins also is in his third season with the Warriors, but this is his second full season after being traded to Golden State from the Minnesota Timberwolves in February of 2020. That trade couldn’t have gone any better. At least for one side.

After producing his second straight double-double, this time putting up 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Warriors’ Game 5 win, Wiggins is the latest shining example of Golden State’s chemistry and culture. The moment he arrived in the Bay Area, Wiggins made it a point to be a sponge when it came how people like Curry, Thompson, Green and coach Steve Kerr went about their business.

Those lessons have turned to results, with Wiggins shining more than ever under the bright lights. When asked earlier in the Finals about his uptick in rebounding, Wiggins’ answer was simple: “I want to win.” That’s who the warriors are, and Wiggins, who has never extended this far, is taking every part of it in.

All of it.

“I feel like every day being here has just been, you’re trying to soak it up and embracing it,” Wiggins said. “It’s the biggest stage. Nothing is bigger than this. So I’ve been excited the whole time I’ve been here. I’ve been happy. I’m embracing it. I’m not taking it for granted.

“It’s a once-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of people. A lot of people don’t get a chance to experience this.”

RELATED: Warriors winning bench battle again will be crucial for Game 6

Whether it’s the culture or the Warriors’ championship banners, it all comes back to Steph, Klay and Draymond. With their win Monday night at Chase Center, those three now have 20 Finals wins together — one more than the legendary San Antonio Spurs group of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — giving them the most Finals wins by a trio in the last 30 years.

The flight into Boston was a time for reflection. Everything happens so fast that Myers had to send his own comedic reminder of how rare this all really is.

There’s still a cherry on top that can perfectly wrap up this 10-year journey. All that matters now is quieting Celtics fans on the road, creating a non-stop celebration on the flight home.

“To be in this position, it’s great,” Green said. “Now with saying that, still one win away. So as special as it is, there’s a way to cap this all off. It’s coming in with the right focus and intensity level tomorrow, and being ready to close this thing out.”

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