73 and 60. Numbers, yes. But numbers that have so much meaning behind them. And, no, this is not about numerology. It’s about the NBA. And historic moments. And the people who made them.
If you’re not an NBA fan, you missed a great show last night. I mean, how often do two historic moments in sports occur on the same day – let alone the same time?
The only such date I quickly recall, is when Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart both threw no-hitters, 2500 miles apart, on the same night in 1990.
Last night it happened in the same state, minutes apart.
Kobe Bryant closed out his storied career by giving basketball fans a glimpse of the greatness they had witnessed during the best of the last 20 years, pouring in 60 points and, as he has so often done, leading the Lakers to a dramatic win. For even those who are not fans of the self-proclaimed “Black Mamba”, it was a remarkable display from the greatest player of the past two decades.
At the same time, about 350 miles north, Steph Curry was firmly taking the baton as the greatest player of now.
His 10 3-pointers propelled the Warriors to their 73rd win of the season, breaking the all-time record, set by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 – the year before Kobe entered the NBA. In the great symmetry of sport, it was Kobe who took the baton from Michael back then.
Which leads us to an interesting distinction. In the aftermath of last night’s events, in LA, Kobe was front and center, celebrated – as he should have been – for all that he has meant to the game, and to a city.
In San Francisco, the scene was somewhat different. The young Warrior who has taken basketball and carried it on his back for the past two years was also front and center, amidst celebration of surpassing a record many thought would not be broken. His credentials are impressive: League MVP. Scoring leader. 402 3-pointers this season – many from a different area code. Yet, in the midst of this historic celebration, Curry deflected praise, and gave credit to God and the team.
In demonstrating authentic humility and grace, the young man did what he’s been doing all season long. He nailed it.
He also made us realize that while for us fans, it’s all about Steph…for Steph, it isn’t.