Entering the season in search of their third championship in four years, the Golden State Warriors have the makings of a dynasty.
As the defending champs focus on continuing their run as the NBA's best team, they're poised to elevate their already mass appeal around the world, as well as their place in the history books.
While in China for the preseason, the club has received a level of fanfare reminiscent of the global attention afforded to the Chicago Bulls in the '90s. Klay Thompson was asked if the Warriors are the closest an NBA team's come to Michael Jordan's Bulls, who claimed titles in 1991-1993, and 1996-1998.
"What's that, six championships in eight years?" Thompson said, as quoted by ESPN's Nick Friedell. "So we're, what, like only a third of the way there? I think it's close. We still have a long way to go, but I do see the fandom, the fanfare like the Bulls had in the 90s.
"Every time the Bulls came to town that was the ticket of the year. Now it's when the Warriors come to town, that's the must-see game. And we don't take that for granted; that's such a cool position to be in. We rarely play in front of a crowd that's not sold out. That's so special. It's hard to really grasp that as a player. So I think it's close, I still think we're not on their level yet, but that's what we aspire to be of the 2000s. We aspire to be that dynasty that will be in the minds of NBA fans forever."
Golden State has made three straight NBA Finals, and it took a historic comeback from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 to stop the Warriors from claiming all three titles. That the Dubs squandered a 3-1 lead in the Finals marked an unfortunate end to the best regular season of all time, when they went 73-9 and broke '96 Bulls' record.
Thompson, 27, is humbled by comparisons to that club and hopes to match their legacy.
"It was cool a couple years ago when we were chasing that 73-win season," the All-Star shooting guard said. "Just being compared to that team is an honor. There's definitely motivation. I would love to match up, play against Michael Jordan. That would be a dream. Obviously we don't have a time machine, but that would be pretty special to see that. There's definitely motivation to leave that type of legacy."
Head coach Steve Kerr, who won three championships playing for the Bulls, isn't ready to rank his current squad up there with his former one.
"We can't match what the Bulls did," the 52-year-old said. "They won six championships in eight years. And we have two in three years which is great but we'd like to keep going; we'd like to win more, so we have a chance to do something great not only this year but the next few years. But we have to work hard and also get lucky, too. You have to stay healthy and things have to go your way, so we'll do our best and enjoy the ride while we're on it."
Thompson was drafted by Golden State in 2011, and has two season left on his contract. The sharpshooter said earlier this week he'd consider taking a discount to stay with the team and keep their star-studded core intact.
He'll have to put his money where his mouth is to help keep the Dubs' dynasty going.