A lot of former NBA players have commented on the Golden State Warriors this season, and the general consensus goes something like this: Steph Curry is a great shooter and the Warriors are fun to watch, but back in my day, we would have beaten them.
That begs the question: Why are so many NBA people from the past hating on the greatness of this year’s Warriors?
“It’s a little bit of pride,” former Warriors general manager and current director of scouting Larry Riley said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. It’s like the guy who played high school basketball 30 years ago and he goes back to his high school class reunion and the stories get a little bit bigger. I think that’s typical of us as a society. I do think that occasionally you get sports players – whatever the sport is – who want to defend your turf.”
Riley, who has worked in the NBA for a long time, has seen this firsthand.
“I probably admired Oscar Robertson as much as anybody,” he said. “I mean, that guy, he was over-the-top. He was the best player in his day. But the reality is, this business of trying to compare someone even like him to Steph Curry, I just don’t get why you think you can compare people when there’s 30 or 40 or 50 years difference in the times they’re playing. It makes for a good argument. It’s good talk, whether it’s at the coffee shop or the bar or wherever, but the reality is, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It makes more sense to give credit to Oscar Robertson and Jerry West and then Larry Bird and Magic and it goes on and on and all the way, of course, to Michael Jordan and Kobe. Why not give credit to the players of today? Steph Curry doesn’t belong in that conversation yet. If the years go on, he certainly will, but he doesn’t yet. But the team has broken a record. Let’s just salute him and go on.”
Either way, the Warriors, at least record-wise, are the best team in NBA history. Steve Kerr said in 1996 that the Bulls’ 72-win season would never be eclipsed; he said the same thing Wednesday about the Warriors’ 73-win season.
Is he right?
“I think Steve’s pretty much on top of that one,” said Riley, who doesn’t envision a team going 74-8. “He knows how hard it is to do, both from a player standpoint and from the coaching standpoint. Just to add one more win on top of the 72, that makes it even a little bit more difficult. You go through a season, if you have a good team, you don’t lose (double-digit games), that’s so hard to accomplish. This team never lost back-to-back games. They set the record for the most wins on the road in a single season. It wasn’t that (they were) totally injury-free, (but) the injuries that they did experience came at the right time because they have enough depth that they didn’t get two guys injured at once where it would hurt them, and they didn’t get what you would call a major injury. So a lot of things go into it. I’d have to agree with Steve. I doubt that this one gets broken.”