In late January, over a five-game stretch, the defending champions beat the Cavs, Bulls, Pacers, Spurs and Mavericks by a combined 125 points. Those are five playoff teams that they bulldozed with relative ease.
Las Vegas currently lists the Warriors at -125 to win the NBA Finals and that’s probably a bargain.
In my lifetime as a basketball fan, I’ve seen what I’d consider a few dynasties: Both the Lakers and Celtics of the 1980s, the Bad Boy Pistons of the late ‘80s, the two Chicago Bulls three-peat teams of the 1990s, the back-to-back Houston Rockets teams that were bookended by those Bulls teams and the Lakers three-peat teams of Kobe and Shaq. We also have the later Laker back-to-back championships of Kobe and Pau and the LeBron-Wade-Bosh back-to-backers of only a few years ago. And then there are Tim Duncan’s variety of Spurs teams who oddly enough never repeated but still won five championships over a fifteen year span.
All those teams I mentioned were pretty damn good. So are these Warriors as they look poised to repeat.
Ironically, considering how many NBA teams have done so over last twenty-five years, we didn’t see too many repeat champions in the NBA prior to the mid-1980s. The Lakers won back-to-back championships in 1986-87 and 87-88 but prior to that, you’d have to go back to the late ‘60s, towards the end of the great Celtics dynasty to find that sort of multi-season dominance.
Since then, however, repeat champions have been the norm rather than the exception. That should be the case again this year because the Warriors are playing in video game mode.
They are dangerously close to history. Besting Chicago’s best ever regular season record of 72-10 would make Golden State the greatest regular season team in NBA history. At 48-4, it’s looking more and more like that might happen. Most of their games aren’t close. Half the time, Las Vegas lists them as double-digit favorites, even when they’re on the road. And they cover.
Assuming this team seals the deal with another championship, we can then debate where this team ranks all-time. If, and most likely when, that happens, you’d probably have to rank them in the top ten teams of the modern era among the previous dynasties I’ve already mentioned. Where you put them is up to you.
But I demand better. Don’t get me wrong. This team is a joy to watch as they show night after night the second best team is nowhere close.
So let’s say, hypothetically speaking, this team wins it all this year, then wins sixty-some odd games next season and another championship, giving them back-to-back-to-back titles. Clearly I’m getting ahead of myself but just hear me out. If these Warriors are fortunate enough to win three championships, they’d be in some very special company with the Kobe-Shaq Lakers, the two Jordan-Pippen three-peats, the 80s Lakers-Celtics teams, the Spurs of course, and the early 60s Celtics. That makes them at worst one of the top seven dynasties in NBA history.
This is why I’m asking for a four-peat to put to bed any argument.
Look, they are a long way away from making that happen. They’ll have egos to overcome, contracts to renew and the inevitable health issues that come from playing such a grueling schedule with a target on their back but the aforementioned dynasties all had interchangeable parts and obstacles to overcome as well.
The Warriors winning four straight championships, in my mind, would make them the second greatest dynasty in NBA history after the 1960s Celtics teams that barely gave anybody else in the league a chance, kind of like Golden State is doing right now.
Not even Michael Jordan, who most consider to be the greatest of all time, could argue that fact.
Let’s be very clear here. I’m not saying the Warriors will win four straight championships. I’m saying them winning four straight would sure settle a lot of arguments.
I’m rooting for it. I like watching greatness. Sure the NBA might be boring if the Warriors simply destroy everyone in their path for four straight years. The Commissioner can’t possibly be pulling for that but historians sure would.
These Golden State Warriors are already great. In fact, that might be an understatement. However, if they want to become legendary, I say they set their goals higher. And let’s see how truly elite they can become.