When the defending NBA champions win a few consecutive games to start the season, you look up casually and think, “Hey, that’s nice. Golden State is still pretty good.”
You forget about them for a couple of weeks, and then they show up at Target Center with a 9-0 record. Steph Curry drops 46 points, reminding everyone AGAIN of what could have been, and the win streak hits double figures. Now you’re saying, “Hey, these guys are serious.”
Life happens. You get invested in the Vikings, more serious local and world news, and then you catch a headline saying Golden State has broken the NBA record for best start to a season and is now 16-0.
Life resumes. You forget again. Then you wake up on Dec. 10 and you realize: Golden State is now 23-0. And you think to yourself, “Wow. This might be the greatest major U.S. pro sports team of my generation in any sport.”
You say this with the full knowledge that there is a lot of season left to be played — 59 games before the Warriors even get to the grueling NBA playoffs.
But then you start to research the teams you consider the most dominant of the past 20 years, and the idea that the Warriors belong in the conversation is not close to absurd.
The natural comparison is the 1995-96 Bulls, the most focused of Michael Jordan’s six NBA title-winning teams.
Those Bulls set an NBA record by going 72-10, then they went 15-3 (including a six-game series win over a very good Seattle team in the finals) en route to their title.
There’s also the 1998 Yankees, quite possibly the best team of that dynasty. Those Yankees went 114-48 in the regular season and barely broke a sweat in sweeping the Padres to win the World Series.
If you want perfection (with an asterisk), the 2007 Patriots are in the conversation. They were undefeated through the regular season … and AFC playoffs … right up until the closing moments of the Super Bowl. That doesn’t negate their dominance, but it does dent the legacy.
More? The 2008 Red Wings, who won the Stanley Cup, are considered by a measure used by Hockey News to have the best adjusted goal differential in NHL history. The 1998 Houston Comets went 27-3 and won the WNBA title.
Plenty of others are in the conversation. But you and I, all of us, should probably start keeping a more focused eye on these Warriors.
I don’t know what the threshold is for naming them the best team of this generation, but I think we’ll know it if we see it.
If they run this win streak to 30 (or more?), do better than those Bulls of 20 seasons ago and make a mockery of the NBA playoffs, history could judge them not just as good, not just as great, but the greatest.