Op-Ed written as an Assignment for my University of Westminster Sports Journalism Module. Written on March 16th, 2016.
When we cover sports, we are always fascinated by the ‘glorification’ of the past.
Maradona is better than Messi, Jordan is better than Bryant or Schumacher is better than Hamilton.
The 2015-16 edition of the NBA, the most spectacular Sport League in the World, is teaching us that New could be better.
Saturday night will mark Round Two of the ‘Warriors – Spurs Showdown’, a matchup that is rewriting several statistical and history books.
Basketball fans are starting to compare this duel to others that have made sports history.
Like England – Germany in Football or New Zealand – Australia in Rugby or Federer – Nadal in Tennis.
This new edition of the ‘NBA Saturday Primetime’ between Golden State and San Antonio will mark the Greatest Regular Season Match in NBA History.
Warriors and Spurs this season have won, combined, 88% of the games they have played.
Something that has no equal in the League’s 69 years of existence.
San Antonio is the ‘Tradition’.
A ‘Tradition’ that, as of today, is unbeaten in its own court.
No one, before them, had won their first 34 Home games in a NBA Season.
They have dominated these last two decades, pursuing perfection both on and off-the-court.
Since their Franchise Player, Tim Duncan, joined the team in 1997, they have the best winning percentage in all the four American major sports (Basketball, American Football, Hockey and Baseball).
Duncan, in these years, has led the winningest Trio in NBA History.
An International one: he is from the Virgin Islands, and his sidekicks have been the Argentinian Manu Ginobili and the French Tony Parker.
Tim, Manu and Tony have won together almost 700 NBA Games.
Better than any Trio in League History.
Where there is tradition, often there is continuity: since December 1996 the Spurs are led by Gregg Popovich, one of the two coaches in NBA History to have won more than 1,000 games with the same Franchise.
The Spurs Legacy is something that goes beyond simple matches: today’s NBA is filled by Coaches or Managers that somewhere have written, in their CVs, ‘Employer: San Antonio Spurs’.
That is because the Texan Franchise is able to plan and build with an incredible cleverness.
An example of that is Spurs’ next Franchise Player.
Despite being only in his 5th season in the Association, Kawhi Leonard is already one of the three men to have won both the Defensive Player of the Year Award and NBA Finals MVP.
Leonard is in an elite company: the other two in that category are Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, the Greatest Player of All Time.
Tim, Manu, Tony, Gregg and Kawhi, together with other great Spurs players in multiple-time All Star LaMarcus Aldridge, veterans David West and Boris Diaw or key players as Danny Green and Patty Mills, will approach Saturday’s game with one desire: Revenge.
In their only matchup so far in the season (Spurs and Warriors will meet twice in the Regular Season final week in mid-April), Golden State have forced their opponent to their worst loss of the season with a final score of 120-88 that leaves no objections.
This is one of the reasons why, after Leicester City in Football, the Golden State Warriors are now the best story in Sports World.
Because they are simply changing the whole concept of Basketball as we know it.
Today the Dubs can exhibit the best start in NBA history after the first 67 games, with 61 wins.
It may seem redundant, but the superlative has been used quite often in this 2015-16 season for the Californian team.
Best Season Start in NBA History, Best Record at the All Star Break, Best Record for a debutant coach in his first two seasons.
And, last but not least, the Best Player in the NBA today in Stephen Curry.
Many people thought that, after an MVP Season last year, he had reached his peak.
But as we are now seeing, the sky is the Limit for Dell Curry’s son.
As of today, Warriors’ iconic guard has converted 330 3-Pointers. Before Stephen Curry, no player in NBA History had scored more than 270 long-distance shots in a Full Season.
But Steph’s historical run is not only made by his shooting ability.
As of today, Curry is having the best ‘after-MVP’ Season in NBA History. His Player Efficiency Rating, a Statistic that measures the successful impact of a player in a team, has no comparison in Basketball’s History.
No Basketball Team is great for having just one legendary player.
For that reason, Warriors’ true success is explained by the so-called Splash Brothers. Klay Thompson, son of former NBA Champion Mychal, is the perfect ‘Robin’ to Bat-Curry, or Dr Watson to Stephen Holmes.
His constant shooting and scoring effort played a huge role in making Golden State’s backcourt into one of the Greatest in NBA History.
As we have seen before, NBA’s Legacy is made by ‘Trios’, or Big Three.
The third, in Warriors’ case, is Draymond Green.
First time All Star this year, Golden State’s big man is the best forward in all NBA for assists, and his efficiency and versatility makes him a hard matchup for the other 29 League teams.
Golden State is on the run for beating the NBA All-Time Winning Record for a Season, established by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls with 72 wins (and 10 losses) exactly 20 years ago. San Antonio is on the pace too for a 70-wins season.
Task will be harder than the usual for the Dubs, due to the injury to their reigning Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala, the perfect veteran player.
If you’re wondering if there has ever been an NBA Season with two teams winning at least 70 games, the answer is simple: Never.
Round one of this incredible matchup, played in January, marked historical television viewing numbers in the US.
Round two, at this stage of the season, with these records on the line and the current teams form, could turn out into the Greatest Basketball Game Ever Played in History.