Image courtesy of Keith Allison's Flickr page - Kobe Bryant: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2454122971/in/photolist-4JS2g2-4wawP8-5GFexT-4JRYd4-5GFrmZ-5GFpeg-5GKJfs-4wavKX-4JSdov-4JWuyu-5GFmCp-4JWaMd-4JRUep-4weBY1-4JUSYU-924n6s-4JRUKD-5GKDbj-5GFkri-4JS1s8-4JWGib-4weCaS-4weF97-4watYD-5GFrEV-4wewBu-4wauy8-4wav9X-4wavrZ-5GKGyE-5GKsf1-4wavDD-5GKHW3-4JWgXL-4JWeC3-4wawEc-4weBcQ-5GFaGc-4JWagJ-4wevw5-4weCBL-4watvR-4JS8yr-4JWqP5-8vYCzf-7eN4ZM-vHVKfS-7hjVn-q1g1cS-q1hjkw
Image courtesy of Erik Drost's Flickr page - Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/18712418510/in/photolist-uvy36m-uKQ6xG-tRgUTP-uvtpVm-uKQmv7-uvGFwB-uMFFeG-uNpE1e-tBehBy-uN3P3D-tR2Qho-HUSfr-4Taf5q-uvASzv-7vAzf2-qHUK2k-r52g6V-6K6Fki-bgddQ6-4G4nGd-r4UoZy-7NjrkD-9nssXS-rmt3kn-JgQiv-uoEiQf-djFciv-rmokYq-r4Ujq3-7hGokn-4iSMB3-bgdChx-47g67u-qKt9Fn-qKuV8z-qKt9yP-qKt9Ea-3pYanc-4C12US-uvyAju-uvyCCs-buWvMB-3q3GXA-eedDRY-7NopXJ-6r3FD-6r3uV-3pYaeB-dZTukn-dZTkBK
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Two major stories dominated the last night of regular season play in the NBA.
The first was Golden State earning a win against Memphis to finally surpass the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and secure their place as having achieved at least the most successful regular season in NBA history.
Yet, that was largely overshadowed by the last game of legend Kobe Bryant, who played his final game in Los Angeles last night. That a man who had had such an obvious impact was retiring was going to make big news anyway. Still, that he managed to score 60 point in his finale, and orchestrated a big come from behind win for his team, was huge! Talk about going out in style!
That said, I have to admit to still hating the Lakers, even if I was impressed with his achievements throughout his career. Finishing off like that just might have been the best statistical performance by any retiring athlete in history, albeit those few stars who walked off on top, having just earned a championship, to me is still the best way to go out. Peyton Manning walking away from the game after winning his second Super Bowl ring is only the most recent such example, and there have been a few other examples, although not many (and Michael Jordan retiring after both of the Chicago Bulls three-peats just does not count).
As for the Warriors, they managed to do it. They won their 73rd game, which means that their 73-9 mark in the 2015-16 regular season is the new standard bearer of excellence in the NBA, at least in terms of the regular season. Some will argue that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who famously finished 72-10 and were considered the best team ever, period, were the greatest team in history. Frankly, I would be one of the people who still believe this.
Still, the Warriors carved their place in history now, and deserve to be remembered for a level of dominance and consistency throughout a season. With this win, they now averaged 70-win seasons for the last two seasons combined, as their 73 wins this season and 67 wins last season make an average of 70. That said, it should be noted that the Chicago Bulls followed their 72-win season with a 69 win season, which brought their average over two seasons to 70.5 wins.
Golden State won the game convincingly, leaving little doubt almost from the get go, ending up beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104.
The Warriors will now face the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.