It was on a Facebook forum (that I spend way too much time on) where I first met this cocky Golden State Warriors fan who was talking how the Warriors were going to repeat and break the single-season wins record that the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls set at 72-10.
The fan was an utter tool, but he’s one win away from having half of his crystal ball vision from coming true. This was back in November if memory serves when the season barely started. He was making a prediction that early that fast and he wasn’t the only one.
From early on in the season, ESPN has built the hype machine of the Warriors to ridiculous lengths.
It has felt that all they have talked about (at least headline wise) is the Warriors quest to break this record. Not even about repeating, but about breaking this record, which in the long run means nothing if they don’t win the championship.*
*Side note: What was even more ridiculous was the Spurs for the LONGEST TIME were also potentially on line to break the record, they’ll finish the season with 65-67 wins, and they got virtually no love from ESPN or even a mention. It was all about Warriors chasing the record and I wonder to God why ESPN didn’t say something like, “Two teams riding with the Bulls as the season goes on,” or something like that.
The way the Warriors have handled the additional pressure makes what they have done even more special. They are doing more than just going for the wins record, they are going for immortality and fulfilling the prophecy. I say prophecy because a prophecy foretells something long before it comes.
A prophecy isn’t made in midseason, it’s make at the beginning or before the season even happens.
Anyone could logically guess the Warriors would be at this point by the All-Star game. But the whole world anointed them as the record-breakers or at least record-chasers from very beginning. That’s pressure.
These types of things don’t often happen in my experience. The entire media world doesn’t just jump on a wagon train and start prophesizing. I don’t know what it was like in 1995-1996, but I’m guessing that the Bulls didn’t have Stephen A Smith and the rest of ESPN talking about the wins record or the amount of pressure to break said record.
I do know what it was like in 2007 when the New England Patriots, right after they obliterated the San Diego Chargers in week 2, were talked about the Patriots going 16-0 regular season and then 19-0 for perfection. Last year, it took weeks before anyone truly took the Carolina Panthers shot at perfection seriously.
Even stranger in 2009, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints both were 13-0 at one point and the talk of “undefeated season” didn’t really start until about midway. There was a definite lack of media pressure on the players to do this incredible thing.
The media and the fans that followed didn’t challenge them that way.
The Warriors have been given that challenge and of course the players rose to the challenge. Their minds have been on 73 wins from the get go and the stress has to be huge because I’ll bet my glass of ginger ale that they want it. They crave it. They desire to break the record and be the best single season team ever. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to the Jordan/Pippen Bulls with Curry playing MJ and Klay Thompson play dear ol’ Scottie?
But it’s hard enough to play 82 games at the pace the NBA demands. What has been demanded of the Warriors since day 1 almost is perfection. How many of us have seen so many of our fellow high school classmates, parents, siblings, colleagues etc. try to be perfect? How many of them do we see break down and fail from the immense stress. Perfection is not natural or human.
The 2007 Patriots were 18-1 and fell one game short of perfection. The Warriors are 72-9 so they can fall short of perfection (not perfect record obviously) and just tie the Bulls record (although is that really failing).
But say they do win their final game (against the Grizzlies, April 13 at home at 10:30 EST), then they’ve done something even greater than break a difficult record. They’ve fulfilled their own prophecy and have established themselves as a historic team. That along with the championship they won last year will seal them as immortal in the realms of basketball history.*
*Side note: Immortal being the common fan remembers them. The pundits remember everyone, but the average fan without knowledge only remembers the Lakers, the Bulls, the Celtics, and Spurs.
The Warriors still have the gruel and much more challenging playoffs to go through, but at this moment, at this juncture, they are on the cusp of the rarest of achievements and basketball immortality. That’s special right there. That’s pretty special.