NBA legend rages at fans as Warriors reach finals

NBA legend Charles Barkley has never been a favorite of the parochial crowds in the Bay Area, but the situation nearly turned very ugly after the Golden State Warriors had punched their ticket to the NBA Finals.

As the post-game panel was discussing the contest, which saw the Warriors overcome the Dallas Mavericks to win the series in five games, Barkley was incensed when the crowd threw something at him live on air.

Fellow TNT hosts Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith pleaded with Barkley to sit down while Shaquille O’Neal watched on.

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Barkley had previously said he wanted the Mavericks to win the series because of his dislike of Warriors fans.

But it was Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green who had the last laugh.

As the clock ticked down the final seconds, Thompson began dancing on the sideline before nearly being moved to tears during a celebration with his teammates.

After two major surgeries and two years of grueling rehabilitation, Thompson is rounding back into form and shot the Golden State Warriors back into the finals.

Thompson shimmied his way to 32 points and the Warriors advanced to their sixth finals in the past eight seasons by beating the Dallas Mavericks 120-110.

“It’s hard to put into words really,” Thompson said. “This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”

Thompson tore his left ACL during a season-ending game six loss in the 2019 NBA Finals against Toronto and then tore his right Achilles’ tendon just before the start of the 2020-21 season. After Golden State missed the postseason in both seasons he was sidelined, Thompson finally returned to action in January.

The performance against the Mavericks showed he is getting close to returning to his old level of stardom.

Thompson scored 19 points in the first half, including a three pointer that he punctuated with Curry’s signature shake as the Warriors raced out to a 17-point halftime lead and coasted the rest of the way.

“You could see how much was missing the last couple of years,” Green said. “We’re lucky to have the Klay Thompson we know back because we know how good he is.”

Andrew Wiggins added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Green scored 17 points and Curry had 15 points and nine assists. He was named the MVP of the series.

Luka Doncic overcame a slow start to score 28 points for the Mavericks. Spencer Dinwiddie added 26.

After missing the playoffs in 2020 and 2021 in back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, the Warriors are returning to a familiar stage. They join the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the 1980s and Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s as the only franchises to make it to the NBA Finals at least six times in an eight-year span.

“For our team, our guys, especially the core group, to be part of that six times in eight years, I don’t even know what to say,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work.”

Golden State will play the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between Boston and Miami.

The Celtics hold a 3-2 lead heading into game six at home on Saturday (AEST).

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