STRETCH SIX: The All-Important Loss

I’m pretty sure DMX’s “Up In Here” was playing in the bar on Saturday night. I’d just left Gavin’s house (aka the unofficial Bench Points holiday party), and my fiancée decided we should go dance, so we did. It started to feel a little like déjà vu , because the last time I was at the bar dancing, I took a break to watch Andre Iguodala hit a double clutch three and Brook Lopez miss a disgustingly easy put back. That seemed like a turning point. In some alternate universe, the Warriors lose that game and are less motivated to win as much. San Antonio could be the one seed right now.

I didn’t actually watch the game this night, for fear of wasting data on another disappointment, and fortunately, Milwaukee never let Golden State get close. On the second night of a back-to-back, having gone to double OT the night before, I had a feeling Milwaukee had the best shot to beat the Warriors, and they did. We certainly did lose our mind up in there. As our dear friend Billy would say, “Hashtag Knuck if you Buck.”

I’m not here to break down the win. I think it’s pretty basic. The Warriors didn’t have any leg in them that night and didn’t splash the way they normally do. “Live by the three, die by three” still reigns true, Golden State is just very good at the living part.

Instead I want to talk about the relief of their loss, to me, as a fan of history and basketball. The longer 82-0 remained a possibility, the worse I started to feel for our game. 82 would’ve done subtle, yet irreparable damage.

Real quick, I don’t agree that the Warriors’ streak should be considered 28-0. Counting last season’s wins are not the way to go. They were 24-0. 24 in a row. Let’s leave it at that.

This Warriors team is going to set records that will never be broken. That’s my opinion. Similar to Pete Rose’s records for most career hits, Cal Ripken’s most consecutive games played, or even Wilt’s 100 points in a game. Those records are here forever. I don’t dislike those records, because despite my belief that they’ll never be broken, I still feel like they could be broken.

Steph Curry is on pace to hit 416 threes this year. Not a joke. The current record is 286 (his own) followed by 272 (his own). The difference between 416 and 286 is the same between the current record and 222nd on that list. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY SECOND. This will go down with Wilt and Ripken and Rose. Absolutely Unbreakable, though the possibility will always be there.

I would have been really upset had the Warriors gone 82-0. Because you can’t beat perfection, and extending the season will never happen. If anything it’ll be shortened. We’ve seen someone score 37 points in a quarter (Klay Thompson), so the possibility of 100 in a game is there. There is no possibility of breaking 82-0.

I didn’t necessarily believe they had a shot. Championships are the end all be all to an athlete, and on a team looking to repeat, I didn’t imagine they’d play the starters too much after clinching a playoff spot. There were certainly going to be end of season losses.

But this is also a group of people that want to break records. They after 73 wins, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to go after 82 if it was available to them.

Record breaking is good for any sport. Despite the steroid issues that followed, the home run race between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 was great for the popularity of the sport. When the Heat won 27 in a row two years ago, that was the great for the NBA. As LeBron continues to climb up the list of all-time scorers, especially now that Kobe is retiring, that will be one of the better times to be a fan. I’m not the biggest NFL fan, but I’m getting really into these 5 touchdown games by Brees and Cam, because I want to see someone throw 8 touchdowns in a game. It’s exciting. When a record is within reach, even the casual fan becomes invested.

I think what we’re seeing now is once in a lifetime. Just as Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson’s style of play gave birth to Kyrie Irving and James Harden, we will see Steph’s impersonators within the decade, but I don’t think any amount of practice will give us this same player again. He shoots half court shots for warm up. With ease. Soon he will shoot half court shots with 15 seconds left on the shot clock just because he’s open.

My point, is that no one will match Steph Curry or this Golden State team. They have made their mark on this league for years and years. That’s why Saturday night’s loss is so important. They could run the table, finish 80-1. But that one will always be there. There will always be something to chase, and as long as there is something to chase, there will always be something to watch.

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