I never got to see Michael Jordan play. I had a chance. Six months after 9/11 I boarded a plane for D.C., hoping to get my first (and only) chance to see #23 play for my Washington Wizards (I’ve been a lifelong Wizards/Bullets fan). Unfortunately, MJ was nursing an injury and wouldn’t even show for the game. I missed my only chance.
I never got to see Kobe Bryant play. I had two chances (both before his late-career spate of injuries). I saw the Celtics play the Lakers at Staples Center in 2010, but Kobe was injured. The next year I saw a late season matchup between the Timberwolves and Lakers in Minneapolis, but Kobe was resting for the playoffs and hadn’t even traveled. I had chances to see the Lakers in the past year or so but my schedule just didn’t work out. So, I missed the opportunity.
I figured I’d better take my chance now to see the next great legend in the making, Golden State’s Steph Curry, before that ships sails as well. What a year to make a trip to Oakland, in what has become a historic season for Curry’s Warriors as they march toward a possible 73-win season (they play for it tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies).
A shot at seeing Curry and the rest of the Warriors stars was nearly derailed by some ill-timed losses to Boston and Minnesota down the stretch that may have forced coach Steve Kerr into resting his big names. Thankfully, there was still the record (and home-court advantage) to play for when my good friend Justin and I saw them take on the San Antonio Spurs on April 13 with win no. 70 (and the continued chance at the record) on the line.
I have enjoyed watching Curry play since he was suiting up for the Davidson Wildcats in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. That year I put that plucky team into the final four in my bracket, and was heartbroken by their near miss against Kansas in the Elite Eight. I always figured he’d have a solid NBA career in front of him, maybe even a legendary one, but I never really expected him to be at the top of the hoops world, where he’s been sitting on the throne (sorry Lebron) for the better part of two seasons now.
So Justin and I purchased tickets back in November, in the midst of the Warriors winning streak. By April, the price had multiplied by 2.5-3x the original cost of what we paid. For awhile it looked like we might have the chance to see a possible 72nd or even 73rd win – but that wasn’t to be. We settled for a game between the two best teams in the NBA and a chance to see maybe the greatest show on court play in what may be their greatest season.
The Warriors toyed with the Spurs all game and, in what was an ultimately off-shooting night for San Antonio, the Warriors became the second team to notch 70 wins in a season with a 112-101 win. Curry finished with a relatively modest 27 points but still canned a trio of three-pointers and dished out some nice assists to entertain the crowd. The Warriors hit 12 threes in the game and each one landed with thunderous applause from the Oracle Arena crowd.
Sports fans need to savor this moment – this is one of the great teams of any era. Regardless of how they match up with the great Chicago Bulls teams (or any other team for that matter), this team, right now, is really special. I hope they get to 73 tonight and continue their run throughout the postseason. They won’t truly etch their name into greatness until they get 16 more W’s after tonight.