This season has been a disaster from the very beginning, as we previously reported. First, it was the China controversy. Then, former commissioner David Stern passed away, then Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing, and last, but not least; the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the suspension.
However, we shouldn’t just focus on the bad things. Now that we don’t have live basketball to watch, its a perfect time to look back, reminiscence and talk about the great moments the NBA has gifted us over the years.
So, now that we can all agree that this has been the worst season in NBA history, we were left wondering; which has been the greatest season ever? Notably, several seasons come to mind, but there’s only one right answer: 2015-16. Why? we’ll break it down in the following paragraphs:
Great Spurs Team
The San Antonio Spurs have had some incredible teams over the years, but 2015-16 was the last time they were legit Championship contenders. Also, it was the last time their mythical Big 3 played together before Tim Duncan’s retirement.
With the acquisitions of David West and LaMarcus Aldridge to an already impressive core of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan; the Spurs fought their way to a 67-15 record and only lost 1 game at home all season.
However, their Championship dreams came to an end in the second round of the playoffs, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat them 4-2, becoming the first team since the 2007 Dallas Mavericks to win 67 games and lose before the Conference Finals.
Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook Together For The Last Time
For eight years, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were one of the league’s deadliest duos. The Oklahoma City Thunder were always Championship contenders with both of them on the court, as they were both relentless competitors and unstoppable scorers.
The Thunder climbed all the way to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference after winning 57 games that season, and it looked like Durant and Westbrook were poised to make it back to the NBA Finals.
However, they fell to the historically great Golden State Warriors and that would be the end of their relationship on and off the court. It’s pretty sad to wonder if they could’ve put together another run and finally win a Championship together.
Aaron Gordon vs. Zach LaVine In The Dunk Contest
Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon made sure to bring the Slam Dunk Contest back to life after a couple of subpar years, and boy, they surely threw a show for the ages, easily beating Will Barton and Andre Drummond in the first round.
Gordon defied nature and gravity by throwing down some of the meanest dunks of all time, including an under-the-legs poster over the Orlando Magic’s mascot that, to this day, still is a top-3 dunk on contest history.
However, LaVine’s freakish athleticism would grant him his second straight slam dunk title, as Gordon should’ve saved the best dunk for last and ended up short in the final round.
Stephen Curry vs. Klay Thompson In The Three-Point Contest
Even though we’re all usually more excited to watch the Slam Dunk Contest, back in 2015-16 we would have the chance to witness arguably the two greatest shooters of all time go head-to-head.
Stephen Curry had won the previous year and was looking to defend his crown. However, in the end, it was Klay Thompson who got the final laugh vs. him and Devin Booker.
Thompson also beat James Harden, JJ Redick, Kyle Lowry, and Khris Middleton. He scored 22 in the 1st round and 25 in the Championship round, thus becoming the first pair of teammates to win consecutive three-point contests.
Tim Duncan’s & Kevin Garnett’s Final Year
The 2015-16 season was Tim Duncan’s final season. He amassed 5 NBA Championships throughout 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs, as well as 2 MVPs, and 3 Finals MVPs.
He was also vastly productive during his farewell season, averaging 8.6 points and 7.3 rebounds with 1.3 blocks per game, so perhaps he could’ve even played for another full season.
Kevin Garnett also said goodbye in 2016 after 21 seasons in the NBA, but unlike Duncan, his playing time and ability to make an impact were already diminishing. Winner of 1 Championship, 1 MVP, and 1 DPOY, he’ll join Duncan in this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Stephen Curry: The First Unanimous MVP In NBA History
Stephen Curry was coming off his first NBA Championship and first MVP season. However, some people thought he wasn’t deserving of the award with those kinds of numbers and that he was just an overrated shooter.
Needless to say, Curry made sure to prove all of his doubters wrong in the 2015-16 season, his revenge year, if we may. That year, he led the league in points and steals while also becoming the first unanimous MVP ever.
Curry averaged career highs in points (30.1), rebounds (5.4), and steals (2.1), while also adding 6.7 assists per game. Also, he entered the 50/40/90 club with 50.4/45.4/90.8 shooting splits while leading the Dubs to a record season.
The Warriors’ Historic 73-9 Season
Nobody ever thought someone could break the record the Chicago Bulls had imposed back in 1996. However, Steve Kerr made sure to write his name again on the history of this beautiful sport.
The Warriors completely dominated their opposition from start to finish. They only lost 2 games at home that year and broke the record for the best start to the regular season (24-0), most combined wins (88), best road start (14-0), longest home winning streak (54-0), and 0 back-to-back losses in the regular season.
However, just like the Bulls would say: it doesn’t mean a thing without the ring. They couldn’t put the cherry on top of the sundae by winning the NBA Championship, but we’ll get to that later.
The Warriors’ Unbelievable 3-1 Comeback vs. The Thunder
The Golden State Warriors were the obvious favorites to win it all that season. They were the defending Champions and had just won 73 games in the regular season.
However, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had them against the ropes on the Western Conference Semifinals, leading the series 3-1.
Needless to say, Steve Kerr’s adjustments and the Splash Brothers’ flawless shooting helped the Warriors pull off one of the most impressive comebacks ever, putting an end to the Thunder’s duo and making it to their second straight trip to the Finals.
The Cavaliers’ Legendary 3-1 Comeback vs. The Warriors
The 2015-16 Finals have to be one of the best ever. The Warriors looked poised for back-to-back Championships, but LeBron James entered legend mode and the Cavaliers were just too much to handle.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were also at their best, while Tristan Thompson completely dominated both sides of the glass during the last 3 games of the Series.
The Warriors just didn’t know what hit them, they didn’t found answers. LeBron James finally fulfilled his promise of taking a title to ‘The Land’ and once again entered the GOAT conversation.
It was the first time a team overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, and they also spoiled the Warriors’ record-breaking season. It doesn’t get better than that.
Kobe Bryant’s Final Game
April 13, 2016. That was the last time the world saw Kobe Bryant doing what he knew how to do best: score, lead his team and make the entire arena step on their feet and scream his name like there was no tomorrow.
The Lakers were already out of the playoff picture, but Kobe made sure to spoil the season for the Utah Jazz as well, knocking them out of contention by leading the Lakers to a 101-96 triumph.
Also, he scored 60 points with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal that night; becoming the oldest player to score over 50 points in NBA history.
Kobe gave us one of the most heartfelt moments in NBA history with his farewell speech, something that none of us will ever forget. Mamba Out.