So now it’s 16 in a row, and no, beating the Los Angeles Lakers by 34 does not get you extra credit. I mean, if you still get as much satisfaction out of Kobe Bryant’s worst shooting performance since there was shooting as you do a Warrior win, you are turning into jade.
Then again, why wouldn’t you? Everyone has been building this mini-achievement into the construction of The Great Wall, and now that it’s done and everyone sees there is only more construction to do, well, now what?
This winning streak is only unprecedented based on when it artificially began, you see, and winning 16 consecutive games is not something that’s never been done. In fact, this is the 24th time it’s been done, and the Warriors did it last year – just later in the season.
The Lakers were the predictably easy safe to crack, and whatever added joys still accrue from beating Bryant Et. Al., the Lakers are still a mere slip of a shadow of a ghost of themselves. Besides, they’re not the Clippers. In fact, the Clippers aren’t even the Clippers these days.
But the Warriors aren’t playing the Lakers any more. They are in another league, in which they play only against the bar they keep moving in search of new challenges to clear. Since the NBA has refused its requests to just move the Finals to Christmas week, they are now on to the next item – most wins in succession in a single season. After that, it all becomes kind of fuzzy.
After all, they’re already at 17 if you count the last practice game, a 136-97 win over the Lakers noticed by nearly nobody; 19 if you go back to the last three games of last year’s Finals; and 20 if you go back to last regular season. In other words, their last defeat either came to the Clippers on October 30, June 9 at Cleveland, or April 7 in New Orleans.
Need it a bit murkier? What if they played along with the whole “They’re the healthiest team ever” meme which has replaced “They’re the luckiest team ever” as the way opponents and detractors can find ways to muddy up their results table? What if they put up a sign like the ones you see at construction comanpies – “XXX Days Since Our Last Work Accident?”
Is it Leandro Barbosa’s virus on November 19 (five days)? Is it Klay Thompson’s back spasms on November 14 (11 days)? Steve Kerr’s first back surgery July 28 (89 days)? David Lee’s hamstring injury in the last preseason game last year that ushered in the Draymond Green Era (397 days)? Is it the last time Curry was listed as inactive because of injury (733 days)? Or his last severe ankle injury (1,352 days)?
Or can it be the mythical Historically Significant Team? Is it the 1996 Chicago Bulls? Already analyzed and done. The 1972 Los Angeles Lakers? In the works. The 2003-04 New England Patriots who won 21 games over two years and successive Super Bowls? Luke Walton is no Bill Belichick.
Is it the 1953-57 Oklahoma Sooners college football team? 47 is a nice sharply-cornered number even if it did happen during the Eisenhower administration. Is it the UCLA Bruins of 1966-71 who won 88 straight? The Connecticut women’s team who did a 90 from 2008-11? Is it the 1935 Chicago Cubs, who won 21 straight and in true Cubtastic fashion lost the World Series?
Or should we just keep it simple and go to victories in succession in the same season by an NBA team and even avoid an irritating debate about lopping over two seasons? Here are those targets and the results of their individual quests:
16 WINS (SEASON/DID THEY WIN/WHY?)
Golden State 2014-15: YES because Stephen Curry
Los Angeles Lakers 1999-2000: YES Because Kobe-Shaq
Portland 1990-91: NO because Michael Jordan
Los Angeles Lakers 1990-91: NO because Michael Jordan
Milwaukee 1970-71: YES because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson
Boston 1963-64: YES because Bill Russell
Los Angeles Clippers 2012-13 NO because Memphis
Dallas 2006-07 NO because Tim Duncan
Phoenix 2006-07 NO because Tony Parker
San Antonio 1995-96 NO because Scottie Pippen
Boston 1958-59 YES because Bill Russell
Washington 1946-47 NO because Joe Fulks
Chicago 1995-56 YES because Dennis Rodman
Boston 1981-82 NO because Jamaal Wilkes
New York 1969-70 YES because Willis Reed
Atlanta 2014-15 NO because Draymond Green
San Antonio 2013-14 YES because Manu Ginobili
Boston 2008-09 NO because Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers 2009-10 because Pau Gasol
Milwaukee 1970-1 because Bob Dandridge
Houston 2007-08 NO because Paul Pierce
Miami 2012-13 YES because LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers 1971-72 YES because Wilt Chamberlain
Of the ten teams that didn’t win the title in the year of their streak, only one, the 1991 Lakers, even played for it. In other words, to be the king, you have to get close enough to kill the king.
All this talk of regicide notwithstanding, the real point at hand is that the Warriors are now being asked to explain their new and hourly adjusted goals on an almost daily basis – “Now that you did that, what’s next? Well, what is it?” It is as if the entire basketball world is sitting in the back seat of their minivan yammering, “Are we there yet? What’s that building? Where’s the McDonalds? I gotta go to the bathroom. Are we there yet? I’m tired of being in the car. I don’t want to go to Grandma’s. Are we there yet?” And they don’t have the power to reach back and give us the backhand we so richly deserve.
So they play against themselves, and how they define themselves in that context. It makes the standings easier to read, we grant you, but at this point, they need a new straw man.
Maybe Luke Walton, The Coach Who Still Isn’t There, could hire Bob Ladouceur, the former De La Salle High School football coach whose teams hold the national record for consecutive wins with 151, to stand silent at the entrance to the locker room each day wearing a grim reaper costume, and holding a scythe and a sign that says, “YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING.”
I mean, if we’re going to set a bar, let’s set a bar.