By: Ian Wixted
On this date back in 1996, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls made NBA history, winning 72 out of 82 games in the regular season. It was a magical season that saw the comeback of MJ, Chicago’s 4th championship in six years, and the start of a new 3-peat. But on its 20th anniversary, we are not here to celebrate this amazing feat, but rather to mourn, because a team from the Golden State came to crash the party!
72-10 was a record that many in the sports world thought would never be matched, let alone topped. But on April 13th, 2016, the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzles to win their record-setting 73rd game. Both of these teams were led by superstars, one coming back into his greatness, the other seeing his stardom rising fast. There was more to both record-setting teams than just these two players, and every sports outlet has already talked about their dream match-up of the ‘95-‘96 Bulls vs the ‘15-‘16 Warriors, but we are here to look at the season that Michael Jordan and Steph Curry had to see how they performed on their road to greatness.
Michael Jordan retired from the NBA before the ‘93-‘94 season, which came as a total shock to anyone following sports. After the passing of his father, Jordan wanted to fulfil a childhood dream of playing Major League Baseball. He spent the ’94-’95 season playing outfield for the Birmingham Barons, a farm club for the Chicago Whitesox.
But after chasing down his childhood dream, MJ couldn’t shake the itch to play in the NBA again, and on March 19th, 1995, he put the whole NBA on notice with just two words: “I’m back.” The Bulls and the NBA were happy to see Michael Jordan back in the sport he became famous for. Jordan led his team to a historic record playing in every one of the 82 games. He averaged 37.7 minutes per game, shooting 49% from the field and 42% from beyond the arch. He pulled down 6.6 rebounds per game, dished out 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals. He averaged 30.4 points per game which sealed the deal for the MVP award.
Stephen Curry just came off the best season of his professional career. Signing his first signature shoe deal with Under Armour, breaking the record for most 3-pointers scored in a single season with 286, winning his first MVP award, and winning his first NBA Title against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At the start of the 2015-2016 season, all eyes were on Curry and the Warriors. Could Steph repeat the year he had? Could the Warriors repeat as champions? One of those questions was answered rather early in the season. Steph Curry and the Warriors went on a historic start to the season, winning 24 straight games. Curry finished the season with a ridiculous 402 3-pointers scored, shattering his own record set the year before, and might become the first Warrior to unanimously win the MVP. Curry played in 79 games this season, averaging 34.2 minutes per game. He shot a crazy 50% from the field and 45% from 3. Averaging 5.4 rebounds per game, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals. He averaged 30.1 points per game and became a member of the pristine 50-40-90 club and will most likely come away with his second straight MVP.
Michael Jordan went on to win his 4th NBA Title, only losing three games in the playoffs, and was named The Finals MVP. Steph Curry is now leading his team against the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. The numbers show that these two superstars basically had the same season statistically during the regular season, and we won’t be able to discuss their playoff performances until later.
The reason we remember 72-10 is because Jordan and The Bulls went out as champions after grinding it out during the season. Will we remember 73-9 if The Warriors should fall short of back-to-back championships? Or if they do succeed in having the greatest season ever, will they be looked at as the greatest team of all time? And if Curry finishes his career the way it has started, will a black sheep become the new GOAT for the current generation? We will find out in just a short couple of series.