“One Legendary Night”

(USA TODAY Sports)

April 13, 2016/#MambaDay: the official end of Kobe Bryant‘s illustrious career.

The postseason begins this Saturday but you wouldn’t know it due to all of the buzz surrounding both Kobe’s final chapter & the Warriors’ pursuit of immortality.

Let’s think about it for a sec.

Farewell – The last “farewell tour” for an NBA player of Kobe’s stature was Michael Jordan’s second retirement in 2003. Though social media wasn’t around to sensationalize each shot, moment or tribute, MJ’s last ride was a tremendous spectacle in its own right.

And the next one?

Well, that’s pretty unclear. Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are the biggest stars from the last decade (that haven’t declined to bit roles i.e. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, etc.) closest to retirement. With 6 combined championships & 28 combined All-Star appearances, you’d think a farewell tour is in the cards pretty soon, right?

Well, not exactly. The unique part of Kobe’s farewell tour is that you know the exact moment his 20-year career is over. April 13th. There’s no postseason for the 16-65 LA Lakers.

Kobe 8
(Getty Images)

Do you really think Duncan’s Spurs (2nd in the West), or Dirk’s Mavs (7th in the West) will ever be in that position?

Let’s take it a step further: are we sure LeBron James will have a real sendoff? It’s very possible that whichever team he’s on will end its season in the playoffs, so it’s tough to say.

That’s what makes Kobe’s situation so uncommon – so worth watching. For one final night, haters, fans and die-hard stans will all gather round to witness a legend perform one final time.

 April 13, 2016: the night Golden State reaches 73 wins? 

Warriors 73
(Tony Gutierrez/USA TODAY Sports)

All year long, we’ve discussed what it would take for the Dubs to position themselves for 73 regular-season wins.

Avoiding injuries, timely playmaking & shot-making, superstar performances, avoiding let downs, consistency & luck.

72 wins later, it’s all happening.

In Game 82, Chicago‘s 20-year old record is poised to crumble, with Stephen Curry and co. taking aim at glory in front of 20,000+ screaming fans at Oracle Arena.

Rock stars. Cult status.

If the Warriors win this game and, ultimately, the 2016 NBA Finals, there’s a case to be made that they’ll reach ’90s Bulls status in terms of popularity.

A dynasty in the making with a fresh-faced superstar, two complementary, yet undisputed Top DOGs in their own right (Draymond Green, Klay Thompson), plus a supporting cast (including one of the league’s best minds: Steve Kerr) meshing as perfect puzzle pieces could put them on a level not even Shaq’s Lakers, LeBron’s HEAT or Duncan’s Spurs ever saw.

Heat 3
(Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Sure, Golden State’s continued dominance will piss off sectors of fans whose teams are constantly victimized with each crushing loss. However, their historic run mixed with Curry’s never-ending, “what did he do this time?” antics snatch the attention of casual viewers in a way that hasn’t been seen in many, many years.

Miami’s Big 3 of a few years ago drew tons of attention but for most, it was more so in hopes of watching them fail. You don’t really see negative attention associated with the Dubs, aside from the “bad for basketball” and “are they too arrogant?” rhetoric coming to light after blowout victory or another insane, long-range bomb from Curry.

Translation: they’re great. They’re so great that there’s little to nitpick. Darlings of the league to “how to do we stop this unfair monstrosity?”

And that’s what’s at stake tonight.

You win 73, you’re literally in a class all to your own. You win 73 AND the Finals?

Legendary status. ’90s Bulls status.

(Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Lakers v. Jazz: 10:30 ET, ESPN2

Warriors v. Grizzlies: 10:30 ET, ESPN

Which one to watch? Well, missing either event is unacceptable.

There’s a about 6 or so hours before tip-off – more than enough time to find a place that’s showing both simultaneously or designate a friend to flip back and forth so you’ll only miss a couple important moments.

Because April 13, 2016 is gonna be one legendary night.

The end of an era for Kobe Bryant.

The beginning of ’90s Bulls status for Golden State.


-Jabari J.

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