Tonight, NBA History will be present and active between two different teams playing in two different games at the same time.
Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion, the third-highest all-time scorer, will play the final game of his NBA career against Utah Jazz at 10:30 Eastern.
The Golden State Warriors, defending NBA Champions will be playing the Memphis Grizzlies at the same time, going for their 73rd win, which would be the most by a team in the regular season in NBA History.
So. Who do you watch? Let’s break it down.
The Case for Kobe
If you are within my age range (give or take five years), then Kobe Bryant has always been in the league. I was six when he came into the league in 1996 and now I’m twenty-five. This is legitimately the end of an era. The same will be applicable to Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s retirement.
Additionally, is there any guarantee the Lakers will be relevant again after this? Well, probably. They play in Los Angeles, they have a history, and the absence of Kobe’s salary combined with the increased cap next season makes them active and legitimate players in the free agency. They will land someone this summer… but maybe they won’t?
Most importantly, the Lakers aren’t playing for anything tonight. Kobe might play all 48 minutes. He might take a hundred shots. He might go for 100 points. The best part, I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic. If entertainment holds the most weight, then perhaps the Kobe game is for you. He has no reason to preserve his body.
The Case for the Warriors
If you are within my age range (give or take five years), then the all-time record has always been 72-10. Not only that, but I honestly didn’t believe anyone would ever lose less than ten games. It seemed impossible, too many variables, but here we are. If Golden State wins tonight, they finish the season with only nine losses.
But this isn’t a typical NBA team. Steph Curry set the single-season three point record last year at 286 threes. This year, he broke that record BY OVER A HUNDRED THREES. If he hits eight three-pointers tonight, he will have FOUR HUNDRED IN A SINGLE SEASON. To give you context, Michael Jordan only hit 581 in his CAREER. Okay, different era. How about Kobe Bryant? He has 1,821 three-pointers in his TWENTY YEAR CAREER. Steph will have more than that by the end of next season.
I don’t know that this game will be entertaining, though if Saturday was any indicator, the Grizzlies will put up a fight, but I do know that if you want to witness once in a generation greatness, then this is the game for you. Kobe is a Hall Of Famer, but Steph Curry might be the greatest basketball player that ever lived.
If I can keep my East Coast self awake, I will probably tune into the Warriors game with regular checks on Kobe. If he reaches 50 points before halftime, maybe I’ll change the channel. Both games will be broadcasted by ESPN networks. Both games will be historic. As the great Drake said, “What a time to be a live.”