Thursday, January 28, 2016

Will The Mighty Bulls Lose Bragging Rights?

Hey baseball fans, with the big winter trades and free agent signings pretty much behind us, I thought we might push through some of the bitter winter blues with a little NBA talk. The Golden State Warriors are doing something remarkable this season that can't be denied--even by this L.A. sports fan. So while we are waiting for the tarp to roll back on Spring Training, let's chat about whether or not the Warriors can do the unimaginable, and steal the all-time NBA season record for most wins from the high-and-mighty, Michael Jordan-led 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

I still can't stand these guys.
Let's just start with the fact that I am not a Jordan fan. Never was and never will be. I don't deny his greatness and what he accomplished. I just never liked him as a person, much the way most non-Laker fans hate Kobe Bryant. He was brilliant on the court, but a complete jerk off of it. He was brutal with his teammates in practice and in interviews ("my supporting cast"), he was one of the more boring interviewees, he's a big-time gambler, a wife-cheater, and maybe even worse for baseball fans, his hubris made him believe he could play professional baseball!

Is Steph Curry pointing the way to the record?
But I digress...Can the Warriors, currently sitting at a crazy 42-4 (more than halfway through the season), break the Bulls' record of 72 wins? It looks like a "yes" for many people. But you know there are some major "if's" to be considered first.

And The If's Are:

Freaky things like this happen. They do.
    Injuries. This is always the biggest of intangibles. The team is racking up wins with smart coaching, team chemistry money can't buy (it pains me greatly that Laker great, Jerry West, is one of the architects), and talent at every position, with MVP Steph Curry leading the way. But we all know that they are just one major injury to a key player away from the record being in serious jeopardy. Curry's ankles were a problem early in his career, and he slices up defenses designed to throttle him with the slimmest of builds for protection. If Curry goes down, the Warriors aren't the same; ditto if something happens to power forward Draymond Green. 

    The Schedule: Look at the Warriors's second-half schedule, and you know that Coach Steve Kerr--who probably has photos of the black eye Jordan gave him in a fight at practice to prove that he was on the Bulls that fateful year--has circled two of the last four games of the season as the potential record-killer. If Kerr is to coach his team to the record and the bragging rights to owning it as both a player and a coach (take that, Jordan!), they may have to beat the San Antonio Spurs twice in their last four games. Sure, you say, the Warriors just annihilated the Spurs the other day, but that was at home, with Tim Duncan on the bench, and LaMarcus Aldridge still looking lost on his new team. The Greg Popovich-coached and experienced Spurs won't slip like that again; these two games will be tough, especially since they will most likely be a preview of the Western Conference playoff between them. And they play an additional game against the Spurs on March 19th in San Antonio.  

    Chris Paul is a master of head games.
    Competitive Star Teams: Tack on seven more games against very good teams that will be jockeying for playoff position led by veteran stars who HATE losing (OKC Thunder's Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook; Chris Paul of the L.A. Clippers, and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks), and you have at least ten potential games where the Warriors could falter. Also, you can't overlook the fact that some crappy teams are also lying in the weeds, ready to snake a win from last year's champs when they are low on desire or sleep one night.

    Pressure Cooker: If the Warriors get within sniffing distance of the record, the pressure could be what kills them. This is a young team, and they will feel the weight of breaking this hallowed record. However, they are the defending World Champs, and they performed just fine under huge pressure during last year's playoffs. And they have Kerr, who helped SET the record, to lead them through the fire.

    Stop stressing, MJ, your record is safe.
    So, Will They Or Won't They?
    They didn't break the Lakers consecutive wins streak of 33 to start a season (I was seriously sweating this one out), topping out at 24 victories, and I don't think they will break the 72-game-winning season, either. Many signs point to them getting it done, and I believe they will come close (70 is my guess, still incredible), but I think something (injuries, burnout, pressure, etc.) or someone who doesn't want to see it happen against them (Aldridge, Durant, Paul, Notwitzki, etc.) will get in their way of taking down Jordan and the Bulls. 

    That's my two cents. Sound off in the comment's section, and let me know if you think the Warriors will break the record and become the NBA's single season game-winning champs. That last sentence was really hard for me to type. 

    Let's go Dodgers! Seriously, I need Spring Training right now.

    1 comment:

    1. Great article and totally agree (much as it pains me to do so)! I was listening to talk radio (95.7 "The Game") and some talking head was saying that the Warriors have too many deep-shooting threats & speed for current NBA teams to handle, stretching out defenses and making the Warriors too hard to defend. But if the 3's go cold (law of averages?), that could spell trouble for the champs - a lot of things need to go right for them to break the record. Who knows, though, the world is a wacky place right now! If you told me 5 years ago that the Warriors would be world champs and tops in the NBA and the Lakers were cellar-dwellers, I would have said, "Yeah, sure - and Donald Trump will run for president!"