Thunder sapped from Warriors-OKC rivalry, but memories remain

OKLAHOMA CITY — As Draymond Green joked Monday about putting another bottle of expensive French wine on owner Joe Lacob’s tab — the celebration for Stephen Curry’s franchise scoring record he set here almost a year ago — he couldn’t help but think of other memories that this town has provided him and the Warriors, for better or worse.

There was Stephen Curry’s game-winner for the ages. Klay Thompson’s larger-than-life performance in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. And then the Warriors returning the next season with Oklahoma City’s star in tow.

However, the thunder has quieted in the once-intense rivalry as Oklahoma City exchanged its stars for an array of future first-round draft picks. When Golden State — still “chasing wins” while attempting to build for the future, too — paid its first visit this season to the site of many of those memories, that’s all those moments had been reduced to: figments of the past.

“KD’s first game back here, that (expletive) was fun,” Green recalled from a folding chair on the baseline under a Paycom Center basket Monday. “Not sure how fun it was for KD. But it was definitely fun for me.”

The Warriors needed a police escort to serve as a buffer from hostile fans on their way back to their hotel after Durant dropped 34 points as the Warriors dismantled his former team in his return to OKC.

“That was sick. That was a good memory,” Green said, before taking a brief pause. “I also have a very bad memory of OKC.”

The Warriors were back in the same visiting locker room that was the site of Green’s audible argument with coach Steve Kerr at halftime of their Feb. 27, 2016, visit.

Fortunately for Green, Curry’s last-second 40-footer overshadowed his histrionics.

Maybe, then, there’s a reason Kerr defaulted to two other moments when asked about his memories in this arena.

“Klay’s game,” he responded, almost instantaneously. “And the KD return. Those are the two games that will always stand out in my mind coming into this building. … Those were two of the most intense atmospheres. The Klay game was one of the most incredible individual performances I’ve ever seen, and Kevin’s return here was just really emotional.”

He had to be reminded of Curry’s heroics.

“That has to be on the list, too,” Kerr said.

There wasn’t much on-court drama when the Warriors visited last season, but the game did provide another milestone for Curry. He passed Wilt Chamberlain for the franchise scoring record, and celebrated later that night with a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, a French wine that fetches at least $5,000 a bottle.

Green and Klay Thompson joined, and Lacob picked up the tab.

On this trip, the bottle going on Lacob’s tab was in honor of Curry’s inclusion on the NBA’s 75th anniversary team. It could have been for a number of other reasons: Curry’s milestone 5,000th assist, for one, or his 17th career player of the week honor after posting three double-doubles during the opening salvo of the season.

“Klay and Joe didn’t make the trip, (so) they can’t partake in the bottle,” Green said. “So me and Steph will enjoy a bottle of DRC tonight. It’s going on Joe’s tab.”

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