By Ibrahim Abdul-Matin
The Golden State Warriors have started this new NBA season 16-0. It is the best start of a season in NBA history.
No one has ever done this before. Michael Jordan’s Bulls won 72 games 20 years ago but they never did this. Magic Johnson’s Lakers and Larry Bird’s Celtics were both dynasties but they never hinted at a start like this. The Warriors are using a new phenomenon that is all the rage in the NBA; small ball. They have chosen skill over size and ability over athleticism. In doing so they are changing the way that the game is being played – and won – and it is super fun to watch.
Last year I waxed poetically about the incredible potential and “upside” of Steph Curry last years’ MVP and currently the leading scorer in the NBA. He is known as a prolific 3-point shooter who has added the ability to drive to the basket and shoot an incredibly high percentage from close range. Yes, add efficiency from the 3-pt arc and efficiency close to the rim and what you get, at a short 6’2”, is Curry who has become one of the most efficient players in NBA history. Personally, I think he has the potential to go down as the greatest player ever. It may sound crazy but I think so primarily because he does all he does without having supernatural size and leaping ability – he is a regular guy doing extraordinary things. That can be said for all of the Warriors; they are regular looking people who like one another, play with passion, and win.
On top of it all the Warriors also are in the top five teams on the defensive end. What they have perfected is being hot from the perimeter of the rim and then stopping anyone from getting hot anywhere around the rim. It really is an inspiring form of basketball. Warriors games have become and event. People are gathering coast to coast to watch what they will do next. For those of you that consider the NBA “not what it used to be” since the Michael Jordan era ended then you would be happy to know that there is a new era – these are the days of the Warriors and it is basketball worth watching.
The Warriors have not been without some adversity. Steve Kerr, the former shooting specialist who played alongside Michael Jordan was the coach for the Warriors last season. It was his first year coaching and he became the first rookie coach to win an NBA title. This year he has been sidelined because of complications in his back. Since he cannot roam the sideline and is home recuperating from surgery the team has tapped Luke Walton, the son of NBA and UCLA legend Bill Walton, to steer the team in his absence. He is currently undefeated as a head coach.
Overall, the level of play in the NBA has improved. In recent years the Western Conference dominated with a slew of elite teams. Suddenly, with the rise of Lebron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat and a surprising start from the NY Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Boston Celtics there is a mood of parity and on any given night you have two or three old and young stars that are worth watching. Case in point is the Minnesota Timberwolves who have a slew of young stars all being mentored by some of the elder statesmen of the NBA like Kevin Garnett.
Still, at the top of the mountain stands the undefeated, the Golden State Warriors who are having fun and making history.