Things played out not at all like I wanted them to last night in the NBA, yet I couldn’t be happier at the end results. Life is sometimes odd that way. You think you want something, but you end up getting something even better than what you thought you wanted.
4-Way Record Tie in the Eastern Conference
On Tuesday night, I sent the following tweet:
I wanted Sacramento to beat Houston AND Utah to beat the Lakers, so that Houston (by far my least favorite team in the NBA due to reasons you all are very well familiar with) would be knocked out of the playoffs. I also wanted the Heat to beat the Celtics and the Hornets to lose to the Magic, because I wanted the Hornets to stay in 6th place to avoid facing LeBron in case they make it to the 2nd round, so that’s why I wanted the Hornets to lose. I also wanted Heat to win, so they could stay in 3rd place, since I prefer the Hornets to face the Heat rather than the Hawks in the first round, because the Hawks scare me. As you all know NONE of these things that I wanted happened.
In a bizarre twist, the complete opposite of what I wanted happened AND the Hawks also ended up losing to the Wizards, which is pretty inconceivable. The result is a 4-way record tie in the middle of the Eastern Conference with the Heat, Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all ending their season with a 48-34 record.
But because of tie breakers, the standings remained the exact same as it was the day before. So even though Hornets won, they didn’t move up in the standings. Miami also stayed at #3. So I ended up getting what I wanted anyway. Hornets face the Heat in the first round (rather than Hawks) and avoid LeBron if they advance to the second round. But Hornets managed to do it without having to lose their final game of the season. In other words, things ended up working out even better than I wanted them to, because I really didn’t like the idea of rooting for the Hornets to lose.
Sure, mathematically, it’s not that inconceivable that these four teams would end the season with the exact same records. What’s so bizarre about it, though, is that the teams that had incentive to win (Heat and Hawks) ended up losing and the teams that had incentive to lose (Hornets and Celtics) ended up winning. The Heat and Hawks had incentive to win in order to get the 3rd seed (and avoid LeBron). I thought for sure the Hawks would beat the Wizards, since Wizards weren’t playing for anything and they sat John Wall and probably other key players in a meaningless game for them. So I had the Hawks winning for sure, which is why I was rooting for the Heat to win so Heat can stay in the 3rd seed. But to my utter surprise, the Hawks lost. I have no idea how that happened. I didn’t see the Hornets games and it was well after the game ended that I checked the standings and was shocked at the bizarre results. I thought for sure the Hornets would be in 5th place, since I did see the score at half time and the Hornets looked like they were going to blow out the Magic and I thought the Celtics would throw their game so they don’t have to face LeBron in the second round. So I was shocked when I saw that the Hornets stayed in 6th place even though they did end up winning their game, because the Celtics also won their game. Then when I saw the the Hawks had lost, I was just utterly baffled. I’m not sure if other people appreciate how bizarre everything played out. To me, I was just like “WHAAAAAT?”
Anyway, I”m sure that was way more information than you wanted. If you read all the way up until now, I’m sorry that I can’t give you back those 5 minutes of your life that you wasted.
Stephen Curry and The Warriors Make History
Now, we turn to the second part of the night. First of all, the Rockets won their game, so it didn’t matter whether or not the Jazz won or lost. Rockets had already secured their 8th spot in the playoffs. So I didn’t get my wish for the Rockets to miss the playoffs. Sucks, but I’ll live. I love witnessing history, so I had both the Warriors vs. Grizzlies game AND the Lakers vs. Jazz game on at the same time. The Warriors, as you all know, are going for a record 73 wins and only 9 losses to beat the previous record of 72-10 held by Michael Jordan’s 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Curry was also gong to break the 400 3-pointer barrier. Gong into the game, Curry needed to make 8 threes in order to reach the insane feat of 400 threes in one season. Curry ended up making 10 threes to end the season with 402 three pointers to shatter a previous record that he held just last season at 286. So, until this season, no one had even broken the 300 3-point barrier and Curry managed to hit 402 threes in one season! Unbelievable. Curry finished with 46 points and the Warriors easily ran over the Grizzles to win their historic 73rd game 125 to 104.
Although the Warriors had an easy time wining their last game, it was somewhat doubtful that the Warriors would get to 73 games when they got upset by the Celtics on April 1st (interestingly enough on April Fools day). The Celtics handed the Warriors their 8th loss for the season with 6 games to play, two of which are against the second best team, the San Antonio Spurs. And when the Warriors got upset by one of the worst teams in the NBA (Timberwolves) on April 6th, who handed them their 9th loss for the season, it looked like the best the Warriors could do was to tie Bull’s record of 72 wins. Somehow, the Warriors managed to win all four of their remaining games, including the two against the Spurs. Odds makers were expecting them to lose at San Antonio, since the Warriors haven’t won in San Antonio since 1997. But somehow, the Warriors managed to snap a 33-game road losing streak in San Antonio to tie the NBA record with 72 wins for the season. After winning that game, it was a given that the Warriors would break the record, which made their historic 73 wins today pretty anticlimactic.
This brings me to the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant. The entire day yesterday was all about Kobe’s last game of his NBA career. There was a lot of hype for it and I didn’t pay attention to any of the hype. But I figured I’d watch his last game, just for the sake of posterity. I have to admit, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the game. Since the Rockets had already won, the Lakers vs. Jazz game had no more meaning for me, because it didn’t matter whether or not the Jazz won or lost. Rockets had already secured a spot in the playoffs, damn it! The Jazz only have themselves to blame for losing to the Clippers’s bench.
So I’m mainly paying attention to the Warriors game and watching Curry hitting threes. 400. 401. Then the Lakers game starts getting interesting. Kobe started out missing like 5 shots, but then he starts making shots. He’s making tough shots. He looks a little like the Kobe of old.I start really paying attention as Kobe is breaking 40 points. Of course, he’s pretty much the only Lakers shooting the ball. But whatever, it’s the dude’s final game. He’s allowed to hog the ball as much as he wants.It’s all about giving a final performance for the fans. No one wants to see anyone but Kobe in that building on his last game. It’s all about Kobe. People are rooting for Kobe to get to 50 points, thinking that it would be a pretty difficult feat. But Kobe does it. But even as he broke 50 points, no one thought it was possible for Kobe to get 60 points. Getting to 50 was more than any of his rabid fans could even hope for.
The entire time I don’t pay attention to anything that the Jazz are doing. But I think pretty much the entire game, the Jazz are ahead by a comfortable margin. No one, including me, even cares what the score is. All everyone cares about is Kobe getting his buckets. That’s all I care about, too, even though I’m not even a Kobe fan. But then somehow, the Lakers have a chance to actually win the game and suddenly the score in a totally meaningless game did matter. Kobe actually had a chance to not only have a huge game, but actually win his last game of his career. I totally lost my shit when Kobe hit a tough jumper at the key with three defenders around him to reach 58 points for the game to give the Lakers a one point lead. It was vintage Kobe!
Kobe managed to get to a nice round 60 points when he got fouled and sank two free throws. Kobe’s last points of his career. Love him or hate him, you have to admire the man’s will. All eyes were on Kobe last night and he willed a final performance for the ages, one that no one could have even conceived. At the age of 37, Kobe played 30+ straight minutes (42 minutes for the game) and somehow managed to score 60 points (22 of 50 shooting) when he’s dead tired. Last night, Kobe defied mother time by sheer will. Kobe’s will is something to behold.
The Lakers ended up beating the Jazz 101 to 96 in a meaningless game that took on so much meaning as it concluded. I couldn’t believe what I just witnessed. Even Kobe, in his post game press conference says that he still can’t believe what just happened. It was like something out of a movie. Not real life. Real life isn’t usually this perfect. 60 points. Not 57 or 58, etc. But a nice round 60. Wow! There’s something about round numbers that we humans are fascinated by. Something pristine about them. For example, Curry hitting his 399th trey for the season is just as impressive as when he hit his 400th, but it wasn’t until his 400th that Twitter lit up and everyone in the building stood up. To do what Kobe did at 37 years old in his last game and to come out with a win; It’s just too perfect of an ending for Kobe’s career. Up until that point, Kobe’s final two seasons had been pretty disgraceful. Well, Kobe may have redeemed himself with the best final performance in the NBA and probably even all of sports. Derek Jeter hit a game winner in his last at-bat, but what Kobe did was way more impressive. So originally I wanted the Jazz to win AND the Rockets to lose so that my most hated team in the NBA would be out of the playoffs, but I couldn’t be happier that the Jazz ended up losing, because Kobe getting 60, but losing the game would be a bit of a shame. So I’m glad Kobe managed to win the game and score 60 in his last performance. What a night for sports!