By Michael LeCompte
This season the Golden State Warriors broke what many fans assumed was an unbreakable record by going 73-9 in the regular season. All season long the eyes of the basketball world were on Steph Curry and company as they chased history. Golden State may have set a new mark for wins, but their dogged pursuit of the record raises many questions about its meaning.
Did Golden State really need the record? and is 73-9 really any more impressive than 72-10?
Before the season Golden State coach Steve Kerr told his team they could win sixty plus games. Players reportedly replied that they could go for the record and a season under pressure-from themselves, fans, and the media-ensued.
Golden State eventually set the record, but at what cost? Curry is now out for at least two weeks with a sprained knee. Perhaps winning 60-65 games and periodically resting superstars down the stretch would have been a more prudent way to sustain a title-defense.
The old mark of 72-10 set by Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls long-seemed an unbreakable record. It was the basketball equivalent of DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. It was a feat that required a superstar at the top of their game, day after day, over the course of a long season.
The Bulls capped their 72-10 season by overwhelming Seattle in the Finals for their fourth title in six years (on their way to two more). Chicago already had three titles and was able to stay motivated and hungry enough to be historically good.
Golden State may have beat Chicago’s record, but only by one game. 73 wins to 72 is similar to a tip-in at the buzzer, one team prevails at the end, but not necessarily because they are better.
At this point Chicago’s 72 win season is still more impressive than Golden State’s 73 victories because the Bulls achieved the record in the middle of their dynasty. Golden State may be the defending champions, but they are far from dynastic (especially with Curry’s weak ankles). If they fail to repeat, their 73 wins get overshadowed by the fact that they were a good team with a great year, and perhaps just one title to show for it.
Maybe the Warriors will repeat and go down as one of the greatest basketball teams ever. Maybe not. Bandwagon Warrior fans may want to tap the brakes, though-at least until #30 is back on the court. Even then Golden State will likely have to get through either Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the West and probably Cleveland in the East for 73 wins to mean more than 72 wins with rings.