Thursday, December 17, 2015

I Wanna Be Like Mike ('96 Bulls Vs. '15 Warriors)

Patrick Says... 

If you know me or if you've read other, "Patrick Says..."  posts, then you'd probably be able to guess that I could write about the Broncos all day. While this is true, Shay and I decided we needed to broaden the horizons a little bit and talk about other teams and other sports in general. Most of my sports viewing nowadays consists of the NFL, however my first sports obsession was basketball. So for this post I decided to go back to my roots a bit.

As I was thinking about what to write over the past two weeks, I kept hearing about the Golden State Warriors and the streak they've been on to start the season:  24-0 out of the gates…impressive right? Extremely, however I've noticed I keep hoping they will lose. But why? Where is this desire coming from? After all I don't hate the Warriors. In fact, I enjoy watching them play, especially the level Steph Curry and his squad are performing at right now. 

The first thought I had was the Warriors have become a Goliath and I was looking for a David, an underdog to come knock them off.  I did a little reading on the psychology behind rooting for the underdog. Responses I found were varied but a majority of them pointed out, people want the world around them to be just and fair and this works its way into sports as well. I get it. I can understand the basic thought process behind backing an underdog. I mean think about the the greatness we've seen in sporting events like the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," where a group of college kids took down the mighty Soviet Union professionals, or the New York Giants beating the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Not to mention movies that have become pop-culture staples:  Rocky, Rudy, and of course my personal favorite, Space Jam. Alright maybe the last one is just me, but seriously. It's a good feeling to watch a team or individual go against all odds and manage to come out on top. It pulls on the heart strings, no? Still, I am not convinced any of this applies in my current situation. Honestly, when it comes to your average basketball game, I enjoy watching the best team win. I enjoy watching talented players come together and execute at a high level. 

So, if I wasn’t getting caught up in underdog hype, what else could it be? Finally, it hit me. I realized it was less to do with the current hot team's rise to greatness, and more do with the implications of their win streak prevailing. It is not about the Golden State Warriors of the present, it was about the Chicago Bulls of the past. As it stands, the Bull's hold the all-time record: 72-10. When I think about growing up during that time, the Bulls teams of the 1990s have an almost mythical status in my mind. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen... and yes, even Dennis Rodman were larger than life to me as a kid... hell, they're larger-than-life to me now. This Golden State team…well they just don’t give me the same feeling. Not to mention, a lot of the current NBA players are younger than I am…talk about a depressing realization. And let's not forget the most important factor of all: Not a single Warriors player has teamed up with the Looney Tunes to save the planet from a cartoon alien race. Again, I digress, but as a kid a major draw in my developing love of sports was the players. The idols... my first real heroes. I don't think I'm alone here. For me, that idolization became team pride, and when I got to college, more like allegiance... something I will get to in a later post.  

So is it generational? If the Warriors go on to break the record, will kids 20 years from now look at Steph Curry and Draymond Green the same way I look at MJ and Scottie? Perhaps, but truth-be-told, I can't picture it. I work in a school serving both middle and high school aged kids, and the sentiment just doesn't seem the same. I mean, even they know what that Bulls team did. To this day, Michael Jordan still holds a status of legendary proportion. Who knows, maybe Spike Lee was right, maybe it is the shoes, who doesn’t want to rock a new pair of J’s? Somehow I gotta believe there's more to it. There's genuine human recognition of greatness and the realization there will never be another player like Jordan or a team like the ’96 Bulls. So, as much as I respect the Warriors and the way they are playing, I hope they don’t break the record. I mean let’s be real, "I wanna be like Steph" just doesn't have the same ring as, “I wanna be like Mike.”

P.S.-During the process of writing this post, the Golden State Warriors lost their first game to the Milwaukee Bucks, leaving their record at 24-1. The ’96 Bulls through their first 25 games were 23-2. So, needless to say it’s going to be a close one…

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