Following the defeat of the Golden State Warriors to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the just-concluded NBA Finals, the season for the Bay Area team is a wasted one. After all, they were a record-setting team that went 73-9 and defeated some very good teams and looked a cinch to clinch their second consecutive NBA title.
However, that leaves one wondering if the chase for 73 wins hurt the team. Should they have rested their players for the long haul because they didn’t look great at all during the entire playoffs? Can’t tell because that is all in hindsight. After all, if a record is within reach, why not go for it?
Sadly for the Warriors, they will join three other sports teams who claimed the single season win record yet didn’t win the championship.
The 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings eclipsed the old mark of 60 wins set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens by winning 62. However, they were ousted in the Western Conference Finals by eventual Stanley Cup winner Colorado Avalanche.
The 2001 Seattle Mariners, who broke the New York Yankees’ modern-day Major League Baseball season record of 114 wins by tacking on two more, looked to blaze a trail in the playoffs. They didn’t even make the World Series that October as the Yankees knocked them out in the American League Championship Series.
During the 2007 National Football League season, the New England Patriots broke the single season record for the most wins that was then jointly held by the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, the 1985-86 Chicago Bears, the 1998-99 Minnesota Vikings, and the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers, who all went 15-1. The 49ers and Bears won the Super Bowl that season. The Miami Dolphins of 1972 went a perfect 16-0 but that was before the season was expanded.
The Patriots were 18-0 heading into the Super Bowl against the underdog New York Giants. The Gotham City squad upset the heavy favorites, 17-14, after Plaxico Burress scored the winning touchdown with 35 seconds left.
Now, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who squeaked past the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for a 73-9 mark, join those other teams to own the best regular season record not to win a championship.
In the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors became the 10th team in league history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder to win a series. However, in the Finals, the Warriors painfully learned that ugly feeling when Cleveland turned the tables on them and came back from a 3-1 deficit!
There have been 18 Game 7s played in the NBA Finals with the home team going 15-3 (83%) in the outcome. The Cavs-Warriors meeting was the 19th. And Cleveland is the first team since the 1977-78 Washington Bullets (who defeated the Seattle Supersonics 105-99) to win on the road!
After the Warriors clinched their 73rd win of the season, a 125-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, center Draymond Green described what the accomplishment meant, “That means I am a part of the best team ever.”
Sure he is. But he might have to adjust that to “the best regular season team ever.”