The Warriors’ season isn’t about the Houston Rockets or the Cleveland Cavaliers or even Charles Barkley.
No, the Warriors’ toughest challengers are the ghosts of Michael Jordan and his six-time champion Chicago Bulls teams. It’s about their pursuit of GOAT status — as in, Greatest Of All Time. Or at least the 3-point era.
If you think the Bulls will give up the title easily, then you don’t know them.
“Right now, nothing,” Bill Wennington told Balls, a mischievous smirk on his face, when asked what the Warriors could do to supplant them. Wennington is a Bulls broadcaster, a one-time Bulls player and the unofficial torched-bearer for the Jordanaires. “If they win the next two championships, we can have that discussion. We’re a long way from that.”
See, the Champs have to do something special, something extraordinary, something off the charts to achieve GOAT status. Another one of those dull, boring, 70-win regular seasons won’t cut it.
Balls is thinkin’ that 33 wins a row just might do it.
Nearly 45 years have passed since the Los Angeles Lakers dropped jaws with their 33-game win streak, the longest in professional team sports. One of the greatest records ev-er hasn’t been seriously challenged since then.
The Warriors won 28 in a row in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, but because the streak carried over from one season to the next, the achievement came with an asterisk. The 2012-13 Miami Heat own the second-best run (27) in one season, which tells you the enormity of the challenge.
Even the 72-win 1995-96 Bulls team couldn’t win more than 18 consecutive games.
Thirty-three be done, you say? Well, almost nobody thought the Warriors were capable of 70 wins at this time two years ago, when Balls was the first to alert the world that they could pull it off. Go ahead, name a better candidate.
Until then, Wennington said, “Let’s not forget that the Warriors a good team.”
A good team?
“They’re a very good team.”
Sorry, Mr. Bill, but if the Champs win 33 in a row and another title, they’ll be running with your Bulls, no questions asked.
REST OF THE STORY: Recently, Jordan said the spike in super powers around the league has resulted in an abundance of “garbage” teams. He’s right, of course.
Yet, as one who was there, Balls can tell you the league wasn’t much better in Jordan’s day than it is now. In the playoffs, it was actually worse.
Because far fewer teams tanked back in the day, the games were more competitive. That also left a left shortage of elite teams, which made the Bulls’ path to the championship that much easier. In their epic 72-win season, for example, only six other teams won 50-or-more games. And only two were in their conference.
Fact is, after the Detroit Bad Boys left the scene, the Jordanaires had no one to challenge them.
DUBS VS. THE WORLD: When Balls broached the idea of a high-stakes, winner-take-all All-Star Game to several NBA players, they were all ears, naturally.
In the meantime, the Warriors’ Stephen Curry might have been onto something when he said that, if chosen as a captain in the newly revised format, he would pick a bunch of his teammates.
Better yet, why not have a league-wide All-Star team play against the defending league champs as the official start of the season? The NHL used the format with success before its pre-expansion days.
Think haters like James Harden, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook wouldn’t try their darnedest to beat the Champs? And think Curry and company wouldn’t ball out to beat them?
BEWARE, DODGER BLUE: Few players can single-handily change the balance of power, but outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is one of them.
If the Miami Marlins decide to move Stanton and his 59 home runs, the Giants will be all ears, presumably. Whether they can put together a good enough package to get him is another story.
Then again, if the Los Angeles Dodgers want him, all bets are off, because there’s almost no player they can’t have if they want him bad enough.
The Dodgers have built a winner with young talent, and there’s speculation that may not want to add a ginormous contract that has $295 million and 10 years left. They could be content to re-sign pitcher Yu Darvish instead.
Then again, with outfielders Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier off the books after the season, the Dodgers can add Stanton and still save a few bucks.
Can you imagine Stanton, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager in the same lineup?
Yeah, Giants fans can’t, either.
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.