Steph Curry and Klay Thompson?
Years ago—before their time—in Los Angeles, there was the backcourt tandem of Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. There’s no denying the fact that today’s Warriors come as close to matching the 1972 Lakers’ dynamic guard play.
There are young fans electrified by the Warriors’ marksmanship. There are millennials enamored with the Splash Brothers’ stroke of genius that lies in their abilities to drain the three. It is, no question, raining threes in the Bay Area these days, but in 1972, the sun shone brightly above West and Goodrich
Their shots gleamed in the light of the sun, sunk into the basket and made a louder splash than the modern-era Warriors. The Lakers’ exciting offense was sensational with West’s ability to hit the open shot. The stellar offense was the toughest with Goodrich’s effort to get to the basket.
It was often that West created his own and shots for his teammates, blowing by defenders with his ball-handling, adept passing and quick pull-ups. It was often that Goodrich finished inside, penetrating off the dribble and slithering his way through the lane for a score.
There has been a lot of talk about the Warriors dangerous backcourt by those who weren’t born to recall stories that abounded at that very moment. Not only that, but priceless narratives of the vintage Lakers negated everyone’s theories about Golden State.
This is not a knock against Curry or Thompson, because the All-Star guards are good in their own right. But, let’s understand, they’re not the ‘72 Lakers, Curry is not the modern-day West and Thompson is not the latest version of Goodrich.
Still, though, the Warriors are roughly similar to the ‘72 Lakers, led by Curry, a two-time MVP, a two-time NBA champion and arguably the greatest shooter in league history. He and his tag-team partner, the son of Lakers legend Mychal Thompson, Klay scored a combined 46 in the Warriors’ 101-92 win over the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.
It was an amazing showing all the way around for Curry and Thompson in Houston. The mounting pile of evidence that the Warriors are America’s most dominant team in this generation holds true when they outscored and outplayed the Rockets in the last series.
In a sense, you’ve seen the disparity between Curry’s Warriors and West’s Lakers. For the young folks, if you’ve watched Hardwood Classics on NBA TV, clicked on YouTube to watch throwback games and revisited the 70s, you’d notice that the Warriors’ skill set equals to the Lakers.
Perhaps the masses ignore West and Goodrich and turn their attention to the mere presence of Curry and Thompson, two premier stars running the show in the Bay. Most weren’t around to live that era, embrace the moment and witness the Lakers’ historic 33-game winning streak that still stands today and seems unbreakable.
Like the ‘72 Lakers, the Warriors have the winning mentality and offensive firepower. With that being said, Dub Nation can certainly build a winning streak and make it interesting. But, no matter how much Golden State mirrors the Lakers from the old-school, short-shorts, bell-bottom, Hippie, Afro, disco, old-time rock-and-roll era, breaking this sort of record looks to be unsustainable by any team.
This makes for a decent debate when measuring the Warriors against the Lakers. This makes for an intriguing conversation, but one can argue that the ‘72 Lakers team outmatched the Warriors of this century.
The general consensus, no matter how much depth and talent this team has, is that Golden State is unbeatable and unstoppable. The only player who can respond with such force is LeBron James.
This is, hands down, one of the greatest runs by any team in NBA history. The Warriors became a dynasty in recent memory, in marked contrast to the ‘72 Lakers. They established an unprecedented level of dominance, in comparison with the Lakers.
The Lakers enjoyed smooth sailing, tallied 69 wins and only 13 losses in the regular season, then won the 1972 NBA Finals, their first title since moving to Los Angeles.
The Warriors, also, rolled past everybody, broke the all-time wins record with 73 victories, most recently in 2016, and collected two championships in the past three seasons.
In those days, the Lakers were far superior to the rest that season. West and Goodrich reached three NBA Finals in four seasons and combined to average 51.7 points per game in the 1971-1972 season while Curry and Thompson are averaging 45.9 combined this season.
In recent memory, the Warriors have reigned supreme among the rest. Once again, a relentless playoff run has put Golden State in the best position to win it back to back.
Even after the league has implemented some significant rule changes, however, the Warriors channel the erstwhile Lakers with a top offense predicated on ball movement. Beyond that, the sport is structured around tremendous star power with players joining teams to chase titles. But, to be fair, the Warriors have mastered the art of shooting, even when the game lacks competitive parity.
And right now, Curry and Thompson are the purest shooters in the league. Without much debate, Curry is on pace to shatter Ray Allen’s all-time record over the next four seasons.
Thompson has the prettiest shooting form and jacks up outside shots from high and low. Curry, meanwhile, has a textbook shooting form and fires up shots from anywhere on the floor.
While the best backcourt of this era find ways to elevate their level of play every season, everyone tends to overlook the past and live in the present.
Any time Curry is locked in and finds his rhythm, he puts on a shooting clinic, making it difficult for anyone to stop him. It is only part of his arsenal to catch and shoot, throw one up on the run and release his shot off the dribble.
With every shot, Curry and Thompson virtually emulate West and Goodrich. There’s never been a backcourt, ever, this dynamic since West and Goodrich. The pair was emblematic of not only the game, but a famous team.
So they did much to popularize the NBA, like Curry and Thompson have done a great deal to revolutionize game.