Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry (30) spins away from Garrett Temple’s defense at an away game against the Wizards on February 3 2016. (By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Stephen Curry) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
While the world was distracted by a Kobe Bryant farewell that it felt like it came straight out of a fairy tale, another somewhat notable event took place in the world of basketball. The Golden State Warriors clinched the greatest record in NBA history at 73 wins and nine losses.
This edges out the 72-9 Chicago Bulls of 1996 who have since reigned as the poster for the greatest team of all time. With numerics no longer backing them up, the time is now appropriate to begin wondering if the Warriors have taken that throne.
Of course, the Warriors season is far from over. Playoffs have just begun and they must go all the way before they can truly hoist this title, but as far as the regular as the regular season goes, the Bulls 72-10 record will never again have the same zeal that it’s had for the past 20 years.
To determine which team is best, the most logical settlement would be to have them play each other. But seeing as the Bulls team is pushing senior citizenship this obviously impossible, so the next best indicator would be to measure how the two teams played.
This again proves to be difficult because the game has changed immensely between the time that these two teams existed. The 1996 Bulls relied heavily on Michael Jordan’s midrange jump shot and didn’t value the three pointer very heavily. The 2016 Warriors on the other hand are so deeply in love with shooting threes that it is the primary focus of their game plan.
The Warriors also like to play with a smaller group of players on the floor with the goal that at all times, at least four of their five players is capable of shooting from the three point line. This gives them a stretched out floor to drive to the rim and also give players more open looks to shoot.
Such an approach was completely unheard of in the nineties where teams valued size and strength to dominate near the hoop. Two of the players on the Bulls’ starting lineup were not even comfortable shooting outside further than ten feet away from the hoop. Their center, Luc Longley, attempted five three point shots in his ten year career and did not make one.
In total, the Warriors made 1077 three pointers to the Bulls’ 544. Many would argue that threes were not as important at the time and they would be correct. However when looking at all shots taken, the Warriors also made 48.7 percent of their attempts as opposed to the Bulls’ 47.8.
The 2016 Warriors recorded 340 more assists, 153 more blocks, and scored 796 more points over the course of the season. Nostalgia is a heavy element and this statement may be controversial among many basketball fans, but I believe the 15-16 Warriors are a better team 96-96 Bulls and also the greatest basketball team of all time.
This is not to say that Steph Curry is better than Michael Jordan. Statistics would still heavily favor MJ in his long, successful career, but the Warriors as a team are unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Calling something the greatest ever will always be reactionary and taboo without giving it time to digest. If the Warriors fall short of winning the championship this season, my argument will be heavily tarnished. However statistics are the most objective pieces of evidence in sports and as far as the regular season goes, they favor the dubs.