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Saturday Sports: two sports dynasties come to an end

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I'm all shouted it out after that promo. But it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The Golden State Warriors. Oh, are they bad. The New England Patriots, even worse. Is it curtain time for the 21st century's most dominant dynasties? Oh, I'm still speaking like the British. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. How are you, Howard?

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Fine, thanks. Let's start with the Warriors' Draymond Green. The NBA suspended him a second time this season - this time, indefinitely - for striking an opposing player during a game. He did that before this season, also last. I was struck - forgive the expression - by what Steve Kerr, the coach, said. This is about more than basketball. It's about helping Draymond. It's an opportunity for Draymond to step away and make a change in his approach in his life. What, if I might put it this way, strikes you, Howard?

BRYANT: Well, I think what struck me about this is how quickly a guy who had a reputation as sort of an edgy enforcer is now, essentially, being treated for mental health, that that's the entire story now, is talking about - you listen to the players, his former teammate, Kevin Durant. You listen to his coach talking about getting him the help that he needs. Here's a player who, last year, punched his teammate Jordan Poole before the season started, and this team never recovered from it. He's had two physical altercations already this season. He hasn't really spoken publicly yet on this. It will be very interesting to see what the NBA thinks in terms of what an indefinite suspension means. Roughly, it'll be about 10 games, I think. But indefinite could be longer than that or maybe a little bit less. But what's happening right now is that here's a player who is integral to a dynasty of four championships clearly being talked about on a Hall of Fame track. And now it appears that there's a fair amount of his career that is in jeopardy, even though he signed a four-year, $100 million contract.

SIMON: Yeah. Golden State's well out of the playoff race. They're just an average team now?

BRYANT: Well, I think what it is is that we always wonder what it's going to look like when you see these great teams, and you can - when you remember Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and that team just running through the league. Remember, they won 73 games one year, and now they are mortal. This is what age looks like. This is what time looks like. And you start to see the rest of the league has caught up to them. They're not as good. And there's a lot of basketball left. You can still make the playoffs. But you look at them - making the playoffs was not the Golden State Warriors. Winning the championship, for them, has been what this run has been all about - six NBA finals, four championships. And now they're just another team for now. But we'll see what they do for the rest of the year. But generally speaking, this is what the end sort of looks like. But I'll tell you something else, Scott. If you are a basketball fan in Oakland, San Francisco and the Bay area, you remember the old days. This team gave you a hell of a lot more than you ever expected. So this is the end sometimes.

SIMON: Tom Brady looks like he got out of the Patriots just in time. They're 3-10. Bill Belichick obviously widely regarded as one of the great head coaches of all time, but not many 3-10 coaches get invited back, do they?

BRYANT: No, they don't. And even him, considering - maybe the greatest coach of all time - 19 straight winning seasons with the Patriots, nine Super Bowls, six Super Bowl championships. And once again, this is what time, and this is what age looks like for them. It's - - when you look at the Patriots, one of the biggest problems with them is Bill Belichick. He is also the GM. He's responsible for replenishing the talent. And after Tom Brady, that hasn't really happened. And it looks like a very sad end to a dynasty. But once more, look at - no New Englander will ever complain about football again after what they gave this region.

SIMON: Yeah, for so many years. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media, thanks so much for being with us. And happy holidays.

BRYANT: Thank you, Scott. Same to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRANCE SONG, "HEROES A VILLAINS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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