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It’s time to shift our focus to the Golden State Warriors

 It’s time to shift our focus from the NFL to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Hyenas, Statistics, and the Greatness of the Warriors

It’s a great time of year to be a basketball fan. The Super Bowl has come and gone, and this horrendous season of lengthy official reviews, commercial breaks, air pressure, dabbing, Fan Dueling, and Peyton Manning commercials has mercifully come to an end.

I had a dream the other night the Broncos beat the Panthers by two in the Super Bowl. A silly and preposterous thought for sure; nonetheless I fixed myself a Bloody Mary shortly after waking in an attempt to drive the thought from my mind. The world hears quite enough about Peyton Manning when he’s benched. The thought of him winning another Super Bowl makes me want to move to Uruguay and write about soccer, develop a cocaine habit, sit on the beach and wait to die; completely cut off from the rest of the world. Then it actually happened. I guess Uruguay’s not so bad.

College football is long gone. It’s a sport reserved mostly for Southerners with no allegiance to a professional sporting organization. Alabama is one of 21 states with no pro teams, so their devotion to college football is understandable. It’s a rather depressing prospect choosing a professional team to root for when the organizations closest to The Yellowhammer State consist of the Titans and Saints. Roll Tide, indeed.

Hockey? Well nobody really cares about hockey, do they? A rather unfair statement, but one the executives at ESPN seem to have taken to heart. Like soccer, it’s a sport most Americans have no patience for. “But they just don’t score enough,” an overweight man riddled with acne was telling me one night at a bar in Texas. “Well,” I said, “You should be able to relate then.”

This is where a good writer would jump in with some quip about basketball, maybe some interesting tidbit about how Steph Curry has finally surpassed that pompous oaf LeBron James as the biggest athlete in the sport, and is on pace to have, statistically speaking, the greatest season any player has had in the history of the National Basketball Association ever. Of course that’s in terms of the Player Efficiency Rating, invented by a man named John Hollinger.

The fact of the matter is I cannot begin to focus on Player Efficiency Rating at this very moment. These are troubling times we’re living in—Ted Cruz won the Iowa Caucus on the Republican side this week, followed by Donald Trump with that little hyena Marco Rubio trotting closely at his heels—waiting to strike should either of them be fatally wounded. Meanwhile the Clinton campaign is celebrating a 0.3 percent victory over perhaps the only truly righteous presidential candidate with a legitimate shot to win this country has seen in decades, and that victory was determined by six coin tosses. Statistically speaking the Clinton campaign had a 1.56 percent chance of winning those six consecutive coin tosses. One could make the argument Hillary’s victory was a hollow one, but as any coach will tell you, “A win is a win, no matter how ugly.”

By that logic, if Steph Curry maintains at least a 31.83 PER (He’s currently sitting pretty at 31.95) he will best Wilt Chamberlain for the greatest season (statistically speaking) of all time. But stats are a funny thing—they can be manipulated and twisted, molded and shaped. Steph Curry may very well end up breaking Chamberlain’s record, but like Clinton winning Iowa, it will be a victory celebrated shorty by the media, and quickly forgotten.

Wilt Chamberlain has done things on the professional basketball court that will never be replicated. The Stilt had a season in which he averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds per game. Michael Jordan had 31 career 50 point games. Wilt had forty-five 50 point games in one season. He also averaged 48.5 minutes played per game that year. And yes, there’s only 48 minutes in a regulation NBA basketball game.

In addition to all of that, one of the contributing statistics used to calculate the Player Efficiency Rating are blocks, a stat which wasn’t officially kept until the season after Chamberlain retired. That was something Chamberlain excelled at as well, with one report stating he had a mind-numbing 25 blocks in one game. So does Curry have a shot at the greatest season ever? Yes, statistically speaking. But like the Iowa coin tosses, had Chamberlain’s blocks been factored into the equation, this discussion wouldn’t be had.

But of course basketball is a team game, isn’t it? Unless you’ve spent the past few months strung out in some West LA opium den, you’d know Curry’s team, the mighty Golden State Warriors, is on a historic pace. They’re 46-4 as this is being written, step for step with the 95-96 Chicago Bulls team that went 72-10. If Steph Curry is the best shooter in the league, Klay Thompson is a close second. Draymond Green is an animal in his own right, a 25 year old second round draft pick who’s leading the team in assists and rebounds—and shooting 42 percent from the three point line.

The Warriors are a team of misfits who should not be as good as they are. Curry is a six-foot-three inch 27-year-old from Akron, who takes shots during NBA games the rest of us take when we’re drunk at a family barbecue. Except Curry’s go in, usually in the face of some 6’7” athletic freak like Kawhi Leonard. Thompson is sneaky athletic and scores his points quietly, except for those games where he explodes for 37 points in one quarter. Green is an undersized power forward who’s managed, in the short summer after winning a championship, to raise his three point percentage by almost 10 percent and his assists average by four.

They are the crew of the Millennium Falcon, they’re the gang from Toy Story. They are The Mighty Ducks, they’re those Jamaicans John Candy hung out with in Cool Runnings. They’re Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione. They’re not underdogs, they’re just different from everyone else, and at one point nobody gave them a chance. But they’ve banded together to do something special this season.

And we as fans, with no other distractions to speak of, all get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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