Joe Santoro: 2016 Warriors vs. 1996 Bulls — how do they compare?
It is not enough anymore for a team to simply break a record. We now feel the need to declare which of the two teams is best. So, which team is greater, the 73-9 Golden State Warriors of this year or the 72-10 Chicago Bulls of 1995-96? It is way too early to even begin the conversation. Don’t forget that the Bulls of 1995-96 went 16-3 in the postseason and won a title. That team actually finished 88-13. Wait until the Warriors win the title and get to 89 wins and see if they have 13 or fewer losses on the year. That will be the time to compare Stephen Curry’s Warriors with Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
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The Bulls of 20 seasons ago lost one more game in the regular season than this Warriors team but their last three losses were all by one point. All nine of the Warriors’ losses were by two points or more. That Bulls’ team outscored opponents by an average of 12.2 points a game. The Warriors outscored teams by 10.8 points. The Bulls’ average margin of victory was 15. The Warriors are at 13.8. The Warriors average margin of defeat is 13.7 points. The Bulls lost by an average of just 7.7 points. The Bulls had 26 20-point wins. The Warriors have just 15. The Warriors have lost five games by 20 points or more. That Bulls team only lost by 20 twice. The only stat the Warriors beat the Bulls is by just one in the win column. And that is only because getting to 73 was far more meaningful to the Warriors than it was to the Bulls. If that Bulls team needed 75 wins to break the record it would have won 76.
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The Warriors, make no mistake, are going to sail to the title. Curry and company won’t lose more than three or four games in the postseason. No team will win more than two games in a series against the Warriors. The Warriors will get to 89 wins and they will likely lose fewer games than the 1995-96 Bulls (13). The NBA Finals will be a sweep. Don’t be shocked if the Warriors go 16-0 in the postseason. It’s hard to lose when you can score 125 points every game. The only team in the West that could make the Warriors do some extra film study is San Antonio. But the Spurs are just too old, predictable and limited to beat this Warriors team. The Seattle SuperSonics of 1995-96, the team the Bulls beat in the Finals, would be tougher than any team the Warriors will face this postseason.
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It is time Steve Kerr gets credit for a huge portion of the Warriors’ success. In two seasons as Warriors coach Kerr has an unbelievable record of 140-24. He is about to win his second NBA title in two years. He owns the NBA record for wins as a rookie coach (67) and for wins for any coach in any season (73). Yes, Luke Walton won 39 of those games and lost just four as the Warriors interim coach this season when Kerr was out with an illness but Kerr was really coaching by cell phone. Kerr’s lack of recognition comes from his ability to make coaching look easy. The guy, after all, even wins games when he’s not even present in the arena. All he does is let Curry shoot. Well, all Phil Jackson did was let Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal shoot. All Pat Riley did was let Magic Johnson and James Worthy run opponents out of gym and Kareem Abdul Jabbar flip sky hooks into the basket. All Red Auerback did was let Bill Russell block shots and rebound, Bob Cousy dribble through and around teams and pass the ball to K.C. Jones, Sam Jones John Havlicek. All those great coaches did was win. Kerr is one of them.
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The Chicago Cubs, by the way, might be baseball’s version this year of the Warriors. The Cubs won seven of eight to start the year and are scoring runs like they are playing a video game. They outscored opponents by 36 runs over their first eight games. The Cubs’ lineup, even without injured Kyle Schwarber, is unstoppable. A total of 105-plus wins for the Cubs is likely this year. All of the years without a World Series title (1908 is the last time the Cubs won) are going to come to an end. The jump-on-the-bandwagon Cub fans will be rewarded with the party of their young lives. Everyone knew the Warriors would win the title this year about a month into the season. It took the Cubs about two weeks.
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The St. Louis Rams proved Thursday that they didn’t get any smarter by moving to Los Angeles. The Rams vastly overpaid in their trade with the Tennessee Titans to get the NFL draft’s top pick. For what? Carson Wentz or Jared Goff? It’s not exactly a choice between Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield. The trade is obviously just a publicity stunt to drum up interest in the team as it heads to L.A. There was no way the Rams, after all, could open the year with either Nick Foles or Case Keenum behind center. So they had to get a new quarterback, even if he is from North Dakota State (Wentz). But there are more efficient ways to create interest in your team than mortgaging your future for a rookie quarterback.
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Everything you need to know about Kobe Bryant’s selfish career was on display Wednesday night in his final look-at-me game. Bryant took 50 shots, missed 15-of-21 3-pointers and scored 60 points in a travesty of a game. Charity games between the Reno Aces and Nevada Wolf Pack have more meaning than what went on between the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz on Wednesday. The Jazz led by 15 at the half and then simply turned into the Washington Generals, repeatedly took a bucket full of confetti in the face and stood idly by as Kobe put on a silly show. Picture Mickey Mantle in his final game, going to the plate about 25 times and seeing 75 mile an hour fastballs in every at-bat. That’s what we saw in L.A. on Wednesday. The only question now is why didn’t the Lakers do that every other game this year? Why didn’t they just feed the ball to Kobe all night long, let him take a ton of shots and score a ton of points? It was a joke of a farewell season for the Michael Jordan wannabe and his final game was the biggest joke of all.
— Joe Santoro writes a weekly sports column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.