Okay, is that enough history for you people now? I mean, now that the Warriors have finished killing time waiting for their first round playoff opponent to reveal itself? Can you finally be satisfied now that there is only a postseason to give?
To be fair, Golden State’s Bull-breaking 73rd win, 125-104, over an earnest shell of the Memphis Grizzlies, had mostly an air of Fan Appreciation Night about it. Stephen Curry hit the 400-three mark and finished with a hilarious 46 points on 24 shots in slightly less than 30 minutes -– putting on a lesson in damp dynamite that is well in keeping with his game in its present state.
And that was after ESPN had shuttled Kobe Bryant’s last game ever on this mortal coil to its secondary network because the Warriors are the new draw, the future that rains money in all ways and directions that nobody else in American sports seems to these days.
That, though, is about Golden State’s essential bankability. To achieve what they are truly after –- immortality in the highlight film sense -– they must now get on to the business of proving that the last 533 days were not some elaborate ruse. They must own these playoffs, starting this weekend against the Houston Rockets, as they owned the last ones. Indeed, they may have to own them even better than they did a year ago, because May and June are no times to slow a roll.
As for the evening itself, the phrase that came to mind was “hand ride,” the horse racing term for an easy and victorious trip. The game’s competitive aspects died an early death, thereby taking care of 73 before anyone had a chance to worry about it, and Curry’s ninth (and 400th) three-pointer became a matter of preordination well before he actually achieved it 43 seconds into the third quarter.
There were other random numbers here and there to keep the audience enraptured long after the actual outcomes of the two games that mattered –- their own and Houston’s -– had been settled. And barring someone in Marketing having the lack of sense to want to hang a “73” banner in the rafters of the building they wish to abandon, all of it disappears into the ether . . . starting . . . well . . . sort of now-ish.
And not a moment too soon, if truth be told. When your home crowd hits BoredomCon 1 and starts doing the Wave with five minutes still to play, you see how easily they lose focus once a goal has been reached. They need the playoffs just as badly as the players and coaches do.
Wednesday was the last time this year that the Warriors and their overly satisfied customer base could live a night of pure mathematical indulgence. Since the things that mattered to them most were achieved early in the third quarter (in fact, a good quarter of the seats were still empty when Curry hit his record-breaking three because bar and bathroom queues don’t fix themselves), there wasn’t a lot left for the crowd to do but wallow in their own amusements.
Hence, the Wave -– not so much a civic blight this time as much as a statement of how comprehensively the Warriors have spoiled the 19,596 cash cows who have forgotten not only the hard years but can’t even muster a serious overreaction to the momentary hiccups like Boston and Minnesota at home, or Portland and Detroit on the road.
They sense as few fan bases do how close to invulnerable their team seems to be. Even New England Patriots fans worry when one loss becomes two, perhaps because it is the nature of the New England sports fan to look even spectacular success with a slightly jaundiced eye.
Warrior fans have seemingly lost the ability to worry about their team. They have watched their team lose 29 games in 533 days, so they have come to not only count their chickens before they are hatched, but to assume record egg yields from each and every one of them.
Indeed, the only other aspect of the evening under debate –- whether the Warriors would put on a better show than Bryant in his farewell performance –- was close enough to allow everyone to claim victory.
Bryant won the night on sheer volume, which is frankly as it should be, metaphorically speaking. Bryant said goodbye in his own particular idiom -- by making it entirely about his own needs. He scored 60 points (14 more than Curry) on 50 shots (26 more than Curry, and more than anyone else save Wilt Chamberlain the night he scored 100 points in 1962) over 42:09 (12:23 more than Curry).
In doing so, he gave his last Laker audience what it craved (All Kobe All The Time) just as Curry gave Warrior fans what they wanted (Curry In A Hurry).
And let’s be fair here. Both Bryant and Curry know their audiences. They may be radically different as players, but they understand what the punters wanted -– their favorite players, playing their way. Bryant through the greed of needing the ball at all times, and Curry by scoring in flurries matched only by the young Muhammad Ali’s jab.
But all that is done now, Bryant’s career and the Warriors’ statistical fixations. The only number that matters now is four, four times, and if the Warriors treat this postseason the way they treated the last one, and the last two regular seasons for that matter, both 73 and 400 will pale in value and significance except as sidebars to the real stories the Warriors still need to retell.
Greatness Through Jewelry, and Civic Improvement Through Creative Parade Routes.