For more than a few years now the NBA has struggled to shake the story that its regular season doesn’t matter. It’s a long and grueling year that takes a ridiculous toll on players (especially on back-to-backs) without offering the relaxing vibe of baseball or the quick intensity of the NFL.
This season, for one magical year, the Golden State Warriors crumpled that story up into a paper ball and chucked it into a wastebasket from 40 feet.
Every night, for 82 games, the Warriors made the NBA regular matter more than it has in 20 years.
No, I’m not going to claim that I watched every game. I didn’t, though I very much wish I had been able to. But every night I queued up League Pass brought excitement. Who are the Warriors playing tonight?
It was fun to watch them shred the 76ers or bully the Nets. It was basketball nirvana to watch them go toe-to-toe with the Spurs and Thunder.
It starts and ends with Steph Curry. The brilliance of his season, perhaps the greatest individual effort in NBA history, cannot be understated. More than 400 threes, a 50/45/90 season and the league’s scoring title and what should be a runaway unanimous MVP selection.
Curry was the headliner, but, for me, Draymond Green was the main attraction. Green fully blossomed into an All-NBA player and became the heart and soul of the Warriors. He was my favorite player to watch every night. I lived for those and-1’s where Green would roar and flex for the crowd, playing with passion and limitless drive.
The rest of squad provided nearly as much as to celebrate. From Andre Iguodala’s triggering of the Line of Death and Shaun Livingston’s heady game and deadly post game, to Andrew Bogut’s incredible passing and Marresse Speights’ heat-check threes- this team truly was once-in-a-generation. I haven’t even mentioned the league’s second-best shooter and likely All-NBA selection Klay Thompson.
I watched them get No. 73 last night in a blowout of Memphis and, even though I knew the victory was all but inevitable, even though I had see them to the same things to 81 other opponents, I couldn’t help but marvel.
I also couldn’t help but wonder: Can they top this? It sounds like a ridiculous thought, but, after seeing all they did this year, I don’t think it’s out of the question. What if Curry makes 500 threes next year? What if Klay develops reliable range from 35 feet like Curry has? What if Draymond finds yet another offensive gear? What if -gulp- they sign Kevin Durant?
We used to say that no one would ever touch Michael’s Bulls record of 72-10. The Warriors broke it convincingly. I can’t wait to watch what they do next.