CHICAGO - Ravaged by injuries and plagued by key players' departures, the Golden State Warriors dynasty quickly got old and cold.
So when they started this season at 0-2, losing by a combined 39 points to the Nets and the Bucks, the fear was that the Warriors had just entered into a consensual, long-lasting relationship with mediocrity.
False alarm. Throw that into the stale fake news pile.
Those late December beatings turned out to be a fleeting romance.
Since then, the Warriors have clawed back to a 12-11 record, which is good enough for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Without Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the Warriors, whose 114.5 points per game is ranked only 9th in the league, could no longer consistently outscore the competition like they easily used to.
But their defensive rating, ninth in the NBA at 110.6, is rock solid. And that's what has kept them afloat in a loaded conference where the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks are all out of the playoffs picture.
When the Warriors had a dude named Juan Toscano Anderson in the starting lineup against Dallas today, you knew this wasn't the same team that went to the NBA Finals for five straight years from 2015 to 2019.
But when they gave everything the Mavericks can handle in a narrow 134-132 loss, you also knew they still had that champion's pride.
And most importantly, the Curry is still spicy even though Steph is about to turn 33 next month.
After greeting the new year with a 62-point explosion against the Portland Trail Blazers last January 3, Curry dropped 57 today and nearly pulled off another upset at the American Airlines Center.
Curry hit 19 of 31 from the field, including 11 of 19 from long distance. He also canned 8-of-8 from the free throw stripe.
"He's never played better. He's always obviously been an incredible shooter. He looks stronger, it's unfathomable what he's doing out there, " said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Yeah, and I knew better than to doubt this Splash Brother.
PARTY POOPER. Imagine a wedding being stopped long after the "speak now or forever hold your peace" part was uttered.
That's what Brooklyn Nets fans must have felt when Kevin Durant was yanked out of the Toronto Raptors game that he was already participating in.
But it was the right move.
It turned out that the guy whom Durant had contact with tested positive for COVID-19. And knowing how dangerous this virus is and how quickly it can spread, KD had to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb, the big red shiny apple that needed to be thrown out to save the entire basket.
SUPER BOWL LV. I will be rooting my heart out for Tom Brady. There is so much to like about a disciplined athlete who is still competing for his sport's greatest prize even after he has descended from his prime at age 43.
But I won't wager anything on it, friendly or monetary, because those defending champion Chiefs from Kansas City are bad ass mother truckers.
Not only do they potentially have the next Brady in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs also have two of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL - Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Hill is a 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back who can plow through the line of scrimmage while dragging a Prius. Kelce is a super sized 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end who can catch spirals like a golden retriever.
But man, what a story to tell if these Tampa Bay Buccaneers can pull off an upset.