It seems wrong to mention Kobe Bryant this early, but I promise there’s a point to this. The Golden State Warriors won their 73rd game of the season, a dominant 125-104 victory over the reeling Memphis Grizzlies, while Bryant was attempting 50 shots and scoring 60 points in his last game, an otherwise meaningless contest. Anyone who pays attention to basketball knows about both occurrences. Wednesday was a regular season night as memorable as any we’ve ever seen since Michael Jordan returned to the hardwood from Double-A baseball.
Tonight was special. #73. We did something thats never been done in the History of the league. Together. So… pic.twitter.com/UuQkVL4RoR
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) April 14, 2016
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry was scoring 46 points on 24 shots, easy-breezing his way to 10 threes and moving two past the magical round number of the week: 400 threes in one season. He’s a new kind of superstar, as different from Bryant as possible … other than the killer instinct and supreme confidence.
“In Steph’s case, if he’s greedy, it helps us,” Steve Kerr said. “I thought he actually did a really good job early on of not forcing the three … he could have, could have jacked a couple of them, but he really kind of settled into the game.”
Curry made it look so easy, as he often does. But it takes a collective decision from the group to allow Curry and other Warriors to flourish individually over the last two years, while continually taking their team to heights no one thought were imaginable as recently as early-November, before their season-opening winning streak.
It takes a unique mix to do what the Warriors have done.
- They’ve won 140 regular season games in the last two years.
- They broke a pretty famous record set by the 1995-96 Bulls.
- Curry will win his second consecutive MVP fairly soon.
- Only 10 teams have had a point differential of +10 or higher, including the 2014-15 Warriors (+10.1) and 2015-16 Warriors (+10.8).
The players wanted this record, and no one was more outwardly vocal about his desire to make regular season history than Draymond Green. Green, who started the game in sixth gear, came to the podium with the game ball, which he said the team would cut up so everyone could have a piece.
“So much dedication and commitment to each other. It’s not about playing for yourself or playing for stats, it’s about playing for each other, and that’s how something like this is accomplished,” said Green.
“It means that I’m a part of the best team ever. Not many people can say that. 15 guys can say that. It’s amazing. It means a lot to me because I’ve been vocal about it for a while, now. And for these guys to come out and back me up, it says a lot about this team. And a lot about the character of this team. For them to back me up for going out and saying this so early, shows why we’re about to do it though. Because we’re always trying to look out for each other.”
The contrast is so obvious. While the Lakers spent multiple seasons in a Bryant-fueled holding pattern, retarding the growth of their young players, the Warriors have somehow grasped the importance of togetherness and sacrifice. Their realization of the latter is so rarely accepted by star athletes, or most humans at any point, really — let alone several elite basketball players in their 20s and early 30s.
“It was unbelievable. Every away arena we went to was sold out. Plenty of Warrior fans. Not a lot of players get to experience that, so I’m really grateful for it,” Klay Thompson said.
“I’m going to look back on this and think about it as the best time of my life.”
— Andrew Bogut with the quote of the night, on what he’ll say to reporters about the record 20 years from now:
“You want to ask me about anything, I’ll say everyone sucked and we were the best back in my day, and the game’s changed. It’s just watered down and it’s crap. That’s exactly what I’m going to say in 20 years time, just like I’m feeling with everybody else (laughter).
“I hope I’m not like that. We do get bitter when we get old. But I respect every era and I think every era brings something different to the game. And you can’t take away from what anyone did in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s. You can only play with what you’ve got.”
— I had a feeling Curry might pass the 400 mark when I shot a video of him making 5-of-7 from the edge of the halfcourt logo over an hour before the game.
— A lot of people think several reporters (including myself) shooting photos of the Scottie Pippen socks worn by Steve Kerr means we have no dignity. But I was never aware that sportswriters had any dignity to speak of anyway (newspaper reporter is the worst job in the country, apparently), and Kerr didn’t seem to mind.
Kerr showed us his Pippen socks pic.twitter.com/eZMhVvYxBP
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) April 14, 2016
— The Warriors play on Saturday at 12:30 pm, which seemed to irk Kerr.
“Same thing happened last year. It’s a quick turnaround. I always thought the Sunday time slot was the coveted TV slot, but maybe that’s changed, because two years in a row we’re playing Saturday afternoon. So very, very little time to prepare. But obviously the same goes for Houston, and we’ve got to play, so we’ll get ready.”
— The Oracle Arena crowd was really loud in the first quarter, when the game was sort of close and Curry started knocking down all those threes. Then when win No. 73 looked inevitable, the crowd quieted down whenever Curry was off the floor, and even grew bored enough to do The Wave in the fourth quarter while the game was going on. It was a really strong Wave in the lower bowl, too, like 95% participation. Kind of surprising. I guess A’s fans think The Wave is cool, but it seemed out of place during such an historic game. Maybe I’m just getting curmudgeonly in my old age.
— Curry told a little story about what something that happened in the locker room at halftime:
“Klay actually, it was funny … right before halftime I shot those two (threes) going into the break and missed them both. Then everybody knew I was one away. So he wrote on a bottle — we sit next to each other in the locker room — he wrote on the bottle, ‘400 three pointers…” and he handed it to me. I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m one away. He said, ‘Yeah, I know. I could tell by the way you were shooting those last two.'”
— Thompson’s press conference bordered on emotional at times (especially compared to a standard Thompson interview):
“I can’t believe it’s over. It went by incredibly fast, but it was a great feeling in that locker room when Steve told us how proud he was of us. He told us he never thought 72 wins would be broken, and for us to do it, I just can’t really describe it. Just got to embrace it, man. It goes by fast. So it’s a quick turnaround … but tonight it’s our night.”