| March 24, 2018

Basketball: Quest for 73

April 14, 2016

The year is 2008. I am a 12-year-old girl in love with the game of basketball, and subsequently, a certain 20-year-old sharpshooter for Davidson by the name of Stephen Curry.

His quick release and eye for the open man have me entranced, as I watch he and his team take down my beloved Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Curry went on to take the tournament by storm, leading the Wildcats to the Elite 8. The hot streak ended in a tight game against the soon-to-be champions, the Kansas Jayhawks. But with a tournament average of 25.9 points per game and the title of Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest Region, Curry was obviously destined for a great NBA career.

And yet, I highly doubt anyone predicted it would be this great.

I see no need to list Curry’s accomplishments. NBA champion, Finals MVP, 3-point record breaker — and these are just the highlights. To top it off, anyone who follows the NBA from any distance knows about the buzz surrounding the pursuit of the 73-win season. It was a feat accomplished by no team until Wednesday night, when Golden State clinched a commanding 125-104 victory over Memphis.

The previous record-holders, the 1996 Chicago Bulls, are immortal in professional basketball history. This has produced an endless stream of hypothetical comparisons, pitting Michael Jordan and Curry against one another, as well as Scottie Pippen facing Draymond Green and the Warriors defensive skillset versus the former Bulls defensive strategy.

There are people who say the 2016 Warriors are as good a team as there has ever been in the game. But there seem to be more fans stating that the 1995-1996 Bulls would slaughter Curry’s dream team.

My take on the debate — It doesn’t matter.

These are two different teams in two very different eras of basketball that we are analyzing. No stat comparison will reveal a hypothetical victor any better than an NBA video game will. Though a rematch via time-travel would be epic — it’s not happening — so let’s stop pretending we know which team is historically superior.

Yet, to those arguing that the Warriors record is irrelevant because of recent changes in the NBA over the past two decades, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss a 73-win season. I understand that small rule changes have been established throughout the league, and the style of play is different now than it was two decades ago. But it’s not as though the NBA has introduced a 4-point line or eliminated the charity stripe.

This is still basketball, and 73 wins cannot be ignored. Fans can deny that such a successful season means as much now as it did in 1996, but they should not discount a team that works both ends of the court day in and day out. Whether a fan or not, we all have to admit that the Warriors are doing something right.

So I’ve made myself clear — comparing the 2016 Warriors to the 1996 Bulls is frivolous, and denying the validity of the new record is not fair either. Despite all the hype, speculations and comparisons, only one thing matters this time in the season.

Once the playoffs arrive, every team has a 0-0 record — and every squad is capable of an off game.

I have been following Curry’s journey for a while now, and I think it’s safe to say he has made a name for himself and his team in the record books, and will continue to do so down the road. It’s been a historic season, but what really matters is who is still on the court come June.

Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert

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