GREAT WHILE IT LASTED
Kerr, Curry, rest of Warriors poised to break Bulls’ NBA-record victory total of 20 years ago
Anybody hoping the Golden State Warriors won’t break the 1995-96 Bulls’ NBA-record 72-10 regular-season mark pretty much can kiss those hopes goodbye.
The Warriors are 55-5 and have won a record-tying 44 consecutive games at home. Fifteen of their remaining 22 games are at home, making it hard to figure how they will lose at least five more games before the playoffs.
‘‘You can’t even dream that stuff up,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team squashed the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 on Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Kerr, who is kind of the Forrest Gump of championship NBA teams, played on that record-setting 199596 Bulls team with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, et al. He was to that Phil Jackson-coached team as Stephen Curry is to his Warriors team. Sort of.
That is, he was the Bulls’ best three-point shooter. In reality, though, Kerr is to Curry as a butter knife is to a bayonet. Kerr was there on the wing when Jordan was exhausted from taking every shot, and he had a dead-eye accuracy that would serve the team well.
Indeed, Kerr, who won five NBA titles as a player with the Bulls and San Antonio Spurs and has a title as the Warriors’ coach last season, finished his 15-year playing career as the most accurate three-point shooter in NBA history (45 percent).
The thing is, Kerr took only 1,599 three-point shots in his career, and Curry takes that many each game.
Kidding. But Curry already has taken 630 three-pointers this season and has made a record 293 of them, drilling them at a 46.4 percent rate. Kerr was a nice complementary player; Curry is a leading man.
The wispy 6-3 point guard can do everything the wispy 6-3 shooting guard Kerr could, plus kill you in a million other ways.
Curry is averaging a league-best 30.7 points and is making just more than five three-pointers per game. His effective shooting percentage, factoring in the benefit of a threepointer over a two-pointer, is 64 percent. That’s crazy.
And the thing that’s crazier is that Curry, who averages 6.6 assists, gets his teammates jacked up to the point that they all start playing like him. That is, the Warriors are unselfish, look for the open man and rip off threepointers at a ridiculous rate. They shoot 31 three-pointers per game and make almost 13. Curry alone made 12 three-pointers in a game against the Thunder a week ago, missing only four.
But here’s why it all matters for those of us who recall the Bulls’ 72-10 team: Curry is the first player to show the world how the three-point shot is the most important basketball rule change since goaltending was made illegal in 1944. That rule previously had seemed unnecessary because goaltending was deemed physically impossible.
And what Curry does— make three-pointers so quickly from such long distance— wasn’t thought possible, either. How do you defend a man who needs but three-tenths of a second to launch a shot that can’t possibly make it into a small circle so far away but does?
Contrary to what youmight have been told, two basketballs won’t go through a rim at once. An NBA ball that hits nothing but net, Currystyle, only has about five inches of free space between it and the 18-inch rim. To even think about guarding aman at halfcourt because he’s a shooting threat is nuts.
And if he can pass like Curry, then what? You’re screwed.
That 1995-96 Bulls team went 39-2 at home, which is amazing. But who is going to beat the Warriors at home this season? Maybe the Spurs. Maybe somebody else if Kerr starts resting his stars, which he has said he likely will do.
But I just can’t see the Warriors losing five more games. I wish I could. I spent a lot of time with that Bulls team, and what a time it was.
Jordan was the rare most valuable player of the regular season, All-Star Game and NBA Finals. And there’s no need to point out how good he was— or the fact he gave Kerr a black eye with a punch in training camp that showed both players something about each other.
That Bulls team went 87-13 for the regular season and playoffs. It would be nice to see the Warriors miss that mark, too. Fat chance. Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.
Warriors star Stephen Curry (getting a high-five fromDraymond Green) already has made a record 293 three-pointers this season.