The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of making history.
By defeating the San Antonio Spurs 92-86 on Sunday night, the Warriors have now tied the mark set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Golden State has one game left on their schedule, a Wednesday night meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who was a member of that famed ’95-96 Bulls team that included Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, has become the first man in NBA history to win 72 games twice. Granted, Kerr was not on the bench for the first 43 games of the Warriors’ season (Golden State won 39 of those games), but that’s not what the record books will say. Kerr spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle and seemed to be in awe of the feat.
“I don’t even know what to say, really. It’s crazy. It just feels like a right-place, right-time type of thing. To be with two teams that performed like this and won at this level for the entire season, I’m pretty lucky.
“To play next to Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen) and Dennis (Rodman) and to play for Phil (Jackson), and then to come here and inherit this whole group with Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and Andre (Iguodala) as my first coaching job, that’s a pretty good draw.”
Kerr was expecting to hear from ex-teammate Jud Buechler and said that former Bulls center Luc Longley would probably call with “a snarky joke.” However, when it came to the rest of his former Bulls running mates, Kerr wasn’t expecting much.
“Everybody else will just mutter expletives under their breaths.”
Not so fast.
Kerr’s former head coach and current New York Knicks president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson, had some very kind words for the Golden State Warriors via his Twitter account.
Way-to-Go!! Congrats to GSt Warriors,SKerr&LWalton et al. The journey to 72 wins is a remarkable achievement-very impressive-now get #73.
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 11, 2016
Jackson wasn’t the only one complimenting Kerr and the Warriors. Scottie Pippen, who has been very vocal that his Bulls would decimate the Warriors in a seven-game series, also offered his congratulations.
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) April 11, 2016
Also chiming in was former Bulls guard Ron Harper.
Congrats to @GSWarriors_ & Steve Kerr Steph curry and crew go for 72 win and get 73 on weds.
— Ron Harper (@HARPER04_5) April 11, 2016
However, Golden State forward Draymond Green may have trumped any tweet that’s come out over the past few days regarding the Warriors. In a story told to ESPN.com, Green says that he ran into the Bull of all Bulls, Michael Jordan, at All-Star Weekend and says that Jordan told him that the Warriors had better break the record, or else.
“Mike told me, at All-Star [Weekend], ‘Go win the record. Go get the record. If y’all don’t win this record, I’m ‘a be hot and I’m blaming you.’ We’re almost there. We got one more game or he gonna blame me.”
It’s not just Kerr’s former Bulls teammates and coaches that are getting in on the lovefest for Golden State. It seems that everybody has an opinion on the matter, including another famous number 23.
LeBron James got in on the compliments for the Warriors as well. James has witnessed firsthand what Golden State is capable of. Not only did the Warriors beat his Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last season, but they also got the better of Cleveland in both games the two teams played this season. The Warriors squeaked out an 89-83 win on Christmas Day and followed it up with a 132-98 beating a few weeks later. LeBron explained to USA Today that watching the ’95-’96 Bulls as a child was one thing, but it’s another thing to be on the court as the Warriors chase history.
“I can say that I actually got to witness some history.
“I remember the ’95-96 team, but I wasn’t watching every game, wasn’t fortunate enough to watch every game. So, I knew about it. I kind of watched the Bulls from afar but to actually be in the league now while they’re setting this record, have the opportunity to set this record, it would be something I can talk about later in life.”
Even if the Golden State Warriors fail in their quest for 73 wins, it’s a safe bet that people will still be talking about this team for many years to come.
[Photos by Ezra Shaw and Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]