The Warriors are 13-0. They are closing in on the record for most wins to start a season (15). They have the No. 1 offense (by a huge margin) and the No. 7 defense in the NBA. They are outscoring opponents by a shade under 15 points per game. The all-time record is 12 (by the 69-win Lakers of 1971-72).
Whether you like it or not, 73-9 is on the table.
The 1995-96 Bulls set the all-time record with 72 wins. No other team has ever hit 70. The Bulls followed up that 72 with 69 in 1996-97. Since then, the highest figure hit has been 67 by the 2006-07 Mavericks and ... last season's Warriors. Because reaching even those heights is so rare, 73-9 has seemed impossible since Michael Jordan's Bulls failed to get there. The only team that could have conceivably topped the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman Bulls was the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman Bulls.
Some folks thought the LeBron-Wade-Bosh Heat could do it until they saw LeBron-Wade-Bosh stumble out of the gate. By Year 3 of that experience, regular season survival in good health was a far higher priority than 73-9. Miami never came close.
The Warriors are the reigning champs, but for whatever reason feel like they still have something to prove. Stephen Curry gets at it in this conversation with Sam Amick:
"I don't think great teams take nights off. I don't think great teams really coast through parts of the schedule just because you feel like you have the talent to do it. That cheats the process, and I think we have guys who understand (that).
"For us, we have to continue to lay down the foundation - even though we just came off a championship run - to lay down the foundation of another run, because this year is going to be totally different. That's what we all want, is to celebrate again in June. This time last year, we were still learning the system, but we were playing hard, playing with that effort every single night. This year, we're just a little better individually, better as a team, and I think that's showing. Everybody is pretty focused."
This is what's frightening about the Warriors: they understand how hard it is to repeat and to build a dynasty. The Warriors know that they need to keep that speedometer pegged to earn respect from all corners. Hell, they are getting reminded every night that despite a 67-win season, despite a dominant run to the title and despite having one of the best point margins ever last season, they still aren't held up at the level of the great all-time teams.
Witness this conversation between Mark Jackson and Dave Pasch during a game not involving the Warriors on Wednesday.
JACKSON: "Can everybody stop please? Let's deal with today's game. Don't mention the great Chicago Bulls teams. Don't mention the old-school teams. The Warriors have got to be the best team this year. They were the best team last year and they were the champs. Let's stop comparing. It's being disrespectful to all-time great teams. Enjoy that you were the best this year or last year.
PASCH: "A lot of people are jumping on that 72-win bandwagon here in mid-November."
JACKSON: "Let's not forget how great that Chicago Bulls team was with the best player in a lot of people's minds of all time in Jordan."
Yes, let's not forget that the '96 Bulls were great and had Michael Jordan. (On a slight tangent, how aggravating it must be for Jackson to see this team excel under Luke Walton. To see the Warriors massively improve under Steve Kerr was one thing. But LUKE WALTON? Jackson is going to get real frosty if this keeps up.)
Reggie Miller had a similar, albeit, briefer position on Thursday.
"I hope people stop whispering about the Bulls and 72 wins. It's not going to happen."
Not with that attitude it won't!
This idea that it's sacrilege to mention these Warriors -- these Warriors who are the defending champions and are outscoring opponents by 15 points per game! -- in the same breath with the '96 Bulls is mind-boggling. The heroes of the NBA deserve our respect, yes. But there is rampant evidence to suggest these Warriors are reaching that level. Jackson talks about disrespecting the all-time great teams. By multiple measures -- wins (tied for sixth all-time), scoring margin (ninth all-time), efficiency differential -- the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors were an all-time great team. By acting as if they don't belong in the conversation you are fully disrespecting this all-time great team.
You are adding fuel they don't need to propel a broken record you don't want to see.
The '96 Bulls were 11-2 with a plus-9 per-game scoring margin at this point. The Warriors are 13-0 and plus-15 per game, and they have already proven they can dominate for an entire season. Why wouldn't we think 73-9 is on the table? Have faith in Stephen Curry and these Warriors to continue to do amazing things. Doubt their ability to blow your mind at your own peril.
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