Last week at work, one of my co-workers asked me, “Are you worried the Warriors are going to beat the Bulls’ record?”
An interesting question.
Those around me know that I grew up a fan of the Chicago Bulls. Right as I was coming into my own as a lover of basketball, the Bulls were setting the NBA’s record for the most wins in a season. In fact, my earliest memories of watching basketball (and actually enjoying it) are of Dennis Rodman’s relentless pursuit of a rebound, Scottie Pippen’s defensive tanacity, and witnessing Michael Jordan’s greatness.
My fascination with the Bulls was further compounded as I watched them fall apart and drift into obscurity following Michael Jordan’s (second) retirement. My first experience cheering for a losing team, I believed in the “Baby Bulls” core of Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, and Jay Williams. I took pride in being the only Bulls fan in my classes. It was through this experience that I learned the popular term, “fair-weather fan.” It almost broke my heart to see that the vast majority of the Bulls’ fans were fair-weather and quick to abandon their team for greener pastures.
And while the Bulls returned to prominence after the franchise (miraculously) landed Derrick Rose, they have never really gotten that close to replicating the success of the 90’s Bulls.
I think it’s because of all this why I am so proud of the 95-96 Bulls’ NBA record of 72 regular season wins. I enjoyed the wins, I suffered through the losses, and all I have left to comfort in is knowing that my Bulls are the greatest team of all time.
In the past, when teams would appear to be threats to the Bulls’ record, I would feel threatened. I didn’t want the Lakers to even sniff 72 wins because they are the Lakers, they always win. And I certainly didn’t want any Miami “super team” to scam their way into the record books because it’s not like Malone and Stockton joined MJ in Chicago just to chase a few rings together.
But this time is different.
As of tonight, the Golden State Warriors are 22-0. They are enjoying the best start in the history of the NBA. They look like they could legitimately stay unbeaten on their way to their NBA Finals rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas day.
And you know what? I don’t feel the least bit threatened.
Instead of wasting this amazing moment in NBA history, I am enjoying it. Instead of wasting my time reading articles and debating which team was better, I am simply taking in the greatness before me.
Steph Curry is playing the best basketball I have seen in years. He can do anything with a basketball. He’s a freaking basketball jedi wizard. And that supporting cast?! The Warriors currently have three of the top five rated players in the NBA in offensive efficiency. They are amazingly deep and developing their young talent at the same time. And arguably the best storyline of all, their head coach, Steve Kerr, has been nursing a bad back, so their interim head coach, Luke Walton, has been pushing the team forward. Even though he has coached his team to a perfect record, he doesn’t officially get credit for any of the wins because of the “interim” label.
I love it. I love every minute of it. I even love all of these fair-weather Warriors fans because they are probably the people who were celebrating with me back in ’96.
Maybe I have finally graduated from “Bulls fan” to “NBA fan.” But instead of worrying about if some 20-year-old record is broken or not, I am just going to make the most of this. I am going to watch every game possible. And I am going to remember where I was and who I talked to when I witnessed history be made. I am going to respect it.
Besides, it’s not like Curry’s Warriors could run with Jordan’s Bulls….right?