Sunday, December 13, 2015

Warriors 24-1: Why The Streak Still Matters

On Tuesday November 24, 2015 the Warriors made history when they beat the LA Lakers 111-77. Never before had a team opened the season with 16 straight wins, besting the previous mark of 15-0 set by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and 1993-94 Houston Rockets. With each new opponent thereafter, the next goal—to beat the '71-'72 Lakers' streak of 33 games—creeped closer. And with each additional win, the team's confidence grew. The fans' did too. Heading out on a 7-game road trip, this team that was once mediocre at best, gave folks pause to wonder: Will they ever lose? A few had the audacity to write 82-0. Today, the Warrior faithful responded to the 108-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks by writing 81-1. I like it.
But, I have to admit, there was a little less spring in our step this morning. The heads of Warriors fans hung low for the first time in a long time. They shouldn't. The streak was a wonderful and exciting thing. Many times I thought to myself: it doesn't matter. Or does it?

If it hadn't been for an interview with Pat McCaskey for SportsUp Today, I don't know that I would understand just how much something like a streak can and does matter. That's because McCaskey taught me what his grandfather, George S. Halas, Sr., the founder of the Chicago Bears football team believed to be true. He said "the mission and purpose of the Bears football franchise win championships and help other people."

Many sports fans, athletes and coaches might not recognize that one leads to the other. As the Senior Director of special projects and a board member for the Bears, McCaskey does. He said “our community work would have more credibility if we had more championships.”

The Golden State Warriors are in an incredibly powerful position. Their social status and professional credibility couldn't be higher. If Steve Kerr decided to run for mayor of San Francisco AND of Oakland, I think people might elect him and paint the Bay Bridge blue and gold in the process.  A local cause or organization that calls on the Warriors team, or individual players will be met with a great platform to tell their story. They will find the media ready and able to give great exposure. People who might not otherwise care, show up to help or to give. 

Perhaps you are questioning McCaskey's conviction. As a counterpoint, I think of the Philadelphia 76ers. This team started the season 0-18. They had already set a record for the longest losing streak in the history of the NBA, with 28 defeats stretching over last season and the current campaign. Their streak came to an end on December 1 when they beat the Lakers.

It's hard for me to imagine a Philly based non-profit calling on the Sixers to promote their cause. Good, bad or otherwise, they probably would not want to be associated with an organization that can't compete. It's hard to get excited about a group that failed to put up a "W" in the win column for over three months time. Those in the Sixers front office ought to heed McCaskey's words of wisdom. Rather than aim to win championships, start with winning games. Don't worry about beating a 24-game win streak, try winning three in a row. You'll have a little more credibility...assuming you still have any. Philly is tough. 

According to Warriors interim coach, Luke Walton, "I bet there’ll a little bit of relief mentally going forward from this point on. It was a lot of fun.”And it was. And so is winning championships and helping people. Warriors, keep playing like you are, and you will. And, we're grateful for the fact you've already done both.

Photo Credits
Strength in Numbers

Philly finally wins

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