The 2015/16 season in the National Basketball Association ended with some fireworks. The Golden State Warriors topped what seemed to be an unbreakable record, and an NBA legend ended his career.
The Golden State Warriors have set a new NBA record with their 73rd regular season win, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104 to finish the regular season with a record 73-9. Their total breaks the mark set by the 1995/96 Chicago Bulls who, with the help of Michael Jordan, finished the season 72-10.
"I am shocked. I thought that record would stand forever," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was also a member of that Bulls team. "It's amazing what they did. I said it 20 years ago, but I don't think this one will ever be broken."
Last season's most valuable player, Stephen Curry, was once again the star of the show. The 28-year-old sharp shooter had 10 three-pointers in the game, including his 400th of the season, a regular season mark no one has ever achieved. He finished the night on 46 points, clinching his scoring title with a regular-season average of 30.1 points-per-game.
"We have a great group of guys and everybody is trying to get better every single day, that's what pushes us," said Curry. "It's been a great journey and I'm proud of everybody in this group."
Praise for the Warriors came from all stretches of the basketball world, including Jordan himself. In a statement, the basketball legend said: "I want to congratulate the Warriors on their amazing season. The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken. The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs."
As the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Warriors will face the Houston Rockets in the first round of possibly four, best-of-seven playoff series as they try to defend their NBA championship. The 95/96 Bulls won a championship after their historic regular season, and Kerr knows first-hand the championship is the most important achievement.
"The Bulls were an amazing group like this group is," said Kerr. "The great thing is they won the title that year. That's obviously what we want to do too."
Bryant retires on Hollywood high
Playing in his final game of a 20-year career, Kobe Bryant put in a vintage performance as the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the Utah Jazz. Bryant dropped 60 points, a majority of which came in the second half, and gave the Staples Center crowd one last stellar performance.
"Man," he said to the fans after the game. "You know I can't believe how fast 20 years went by. This is absolutely crazy."
"It was my dream to be a Los Angeles Laker," he continued. "How many kids can say when you turn pro you're going to play for your favourite team, and spend your entire career there. You can't write something better than this.
"All I can do is thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. God, I love you guys."
Beginning his career as a 17-year-old, Bryant ends his career with five NBA Championships, an NBA MVP award, and two gold medals with the United States national basketball team. Only Lakers legend Kareem-Abdul Jabaar and former Lakers teammate Karl Malone sit above him in the NBA's all-time scoring list.
The win for the Lakers was just their 17th as they finished the regular season with the NBA's second-worst record. At 19.9 percent, the Lakers will have the second-best chance in earn the first pick in the 2015 NBA draft, where they may find the next great star to replace Bryant.