Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

All those jokes about the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 series lead to lose the 2016 championship can come to an end now. In a most beautiful and poetic finish, the Warriors, who came into Monday night’s game leading the NBA Finals series 3-1, pulled off a flawless victory and won the game with a 9-point lead, leaving no doubt that they are the champions.

The Warriors had been dominating the entire series, and many thought the scrappy young team from Oakland, Calif., would sweep the champion Cavaliers the same way they swept through their earlier competition in the playoffs, but the Cavaliers rallied, and Friday night’s loss in Cleveland sent the series back to Oakland with a forced Game 5.

Perhaps that was the motivation the Bay Area players needed—the sound of their hometown crowd in their ears—as they fought to outlive last year’s great defeat and win the NBA championship for the second time in three years under head coach Steve Kerr.

Advertisement

Newcomer Kevin Durant, who failed to win a championship with the Oklahoma City Thunder, had 39 points in the series-clinching game and was named the Finals MVP. He was given the Bill Russell trophy by Bill Russell himself.

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors hugs LeBron James (left) of the Cleveland Cavaliers after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 to win the 2017 NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on June 12, 2017. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In a classy move, the first person from the Cavaliers to walk up and congratulate KD was LeBron James, who KD said in a postgame interview was the only person he’d looked at as competition since the 2012 finals, when James and the Miami Heat beat Durant and the Thunder.

A dramatic end to a dramatic series, but one that the Warriors and their fans can be proud of.

Advertisement

This year, the Warriors didn’t blow a 3-1 lead in the finals; they took it home to Oakland to win the series and cement their place as a team to be reckoned with.