Warriors’ legacy will be a product of changing times

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Reporter

It’s April 21, 1996, and it’s the 82nd game of an 82-game season in U.S. Air Arena in Washington, D.C., Michael Jeffrey Jordan just dropped 26 points on the Washington Bullets and the Chicago Bulls have just won their 72nd game. The Bulls are about to enter the first round of the NBA playoffs with a record of 72 wins and 10 losses, an NBA record.


The Bulls sweep (3-0 at the time) Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, head coach Pat Riley and the Miami Heat in the first round, and it wasn’t even close. The Bulls then easily handled Patrick Ewing, John Starks, head coach Jeff Van Gundy and my New York Knicks in the Conference Semifinals, beating them 4-1. The lone loss for Chicago in that series was an overtime thriller at Madison Square Garden in which Michael Jordan dropped 46 points.


The Bulls then easily swept Horace Grant, Shaquille O’Neal, head coach Brian Hill and the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago then beat Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, head coach George Karl and the Seattle Supersonics in six games in the NBA Finals.

The losses for Chicago came back-to-back on June 12 and 14 at Key Arena.


They did it. 72 wins in the regular season capped off by bringing a Larry O’Brien trophy home to the United Center for a fourth time in team history.

The names live in immortality: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper and Phil Jackson.


Fast forward to a little under 20 years later.


It’s April 10, 2016 and it’s the 81st game of an 82-game season in AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Wardell Stephen Curry just dropped 37 points on the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors have just won their 72nd game, tying the Bulls’ record.


The Warriors have a chance to break a record that no one thought could be broken, like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played.


Wednesday night, we will know if the Warriors finish the season 72-10 or 73-9 and who they’ll play in the first round of the playoffs, whether it’s the Utah Jazz or the Houston Rockets.


The names that will live in immortality: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston and Steve Kerr.


Kerr just happened to be on that Bulls team and now is on the brink of history this time as the Warriors’ head coach.


Let’s hypothetically say the Warriors don’t achieve the record and finish the season 72-10, but do go on to win the NBA Finals the same way the Bulls did. Even in that scenario, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors will be remembered better than the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.


I say this because we live in a world that is ruled by three-pointers, ankle-breakers, yelling “AND-ONE!” after a foul and social media.


Of course, I was born in 1997, so I wouldn’t know if ankle-breakers and yelling was as common then as it is now, but I do know that head coach Phil Jackson didn’t believe in three-pointers and used the triangle offense, which is mostly used for passing and cutting to the basket for an easy deuce. I also know that there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Vine and no Instragram at the time.


Back in the ‘90s, you would have to wait for the highlights on TV if you missed an amazing play. Not anymore. Thanks to the Internet and social media, if there is an amazing play, you can see it immediately.


Here’s an example: Let’s say it’s 1995 and Michael Jordan just executed an amazing crossover, drove to the basket and put a defender on a poster, but you weren’t watching the game. You’d have to wait until the highlight was made after the game.


Now, let’s say it’s 2016 and Steph Curry just dribbled the ball between his legs, behind his back, stepped back, faded away from the corner for three and it’s money, but you weren’t watching the game. Your friend sends you a text: “DID YOU SEE STEPH’S THREE?” You can easily go on Twitter, type “Steph Curry” and instantly, the play you just missed is there, and you watch it, and you marvel.


Also, the Golden State Warriors have been on National TV (ABC, ESPN, NBATV or TNT) a whopping 40 times (41 times by the time this is printed), not including the upcoming playoffs. That’s just less than half of the games seen by the whole nation. The Bulls, on the other hand, did not have the same kind of exposure as the Warriors. The Bulls only played 20-something games on National TV, about half the exposure the Warriors are getting this season.


Now, I’m not saying the ‘15-’16 Warriors would beat the ‘95-’96 Bulls. I’m not saying Golden State is better than Chicago. I’m not sure which team is better and I’m not sure which team would win in a best-of-seven series. However, I do feel, thanks to social media and half of the games being on National TV, that the 2015-’16 Golden State Warriors will be remembered better than the 1995-’96 Chicago Bulls.


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Twitter: @E_Rodriguez_24