Regardless of the sport, there's nothing more exciting than seeing a player, or a team, absolutely dominate their competition. Sure, we'd all love parity like there is in baseball today, but there's just something truly special about watching a team that defines a generation.
For our generation, that team is the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors not only broke the NBA record for most wins in a season at 73, but they also completely redefined offense in the sport. While basketball in the past was defined by scoring points in the paint, the Warriors used the three-pointer at such a prolific rate that they have essentially rewritten the rules on how to score the most points in basketball. In that way, they're very similar to the 1927 Yankees.
The three-pointer, albeit now at a peak, has been on the rise before this Warriors team. Even in 2014, in an article from Kirk Goldsberry at Grantland, there was already the idea that the NBA could move the three-point line back if this current trend continued indefinitely.
In 1927, the home run revolution had already started, just like the three-point revolution in 2016. Babe Ruth had been with the Yankees since 1920, and he averaged 44 home runs a season from 1920 to 1926. By 1927 there were sluggers who could keep up with Ruth, like Rogers Hornsby who hit 42 in 1922, or Cy Williams who hit 41 in 1923.
But like with the Warriors, the 1927 Yankees as a team were the first true home run hitting team, and that's something that is a modern feature in baseball. While there were home run hitters at this time, no one team could hit home runs like them. Look at how they compared to the top home run hitting teams since the World Series started in 1903:
|Team||Home Runs||Isolated Power|
And now look at how the Golden State Warriors compare to other three-point shooting teams in the three-point era (after 1979-80):
|Team||3-Point Field Goals||Points|
|2015-16 Trail Blazers||864||8622|
The Warriors weren't the only team to start shooting three-pointers. If anything, the Rockets were one of the first teams to understand how valuable the corner three-point shot was, but the Warriors just did it much, much better. And while all teams in 1927 knew that home runs were needed to win in the live ball era, the Yankees just did it better than everyone else.
The reason why these two teams stand apart, even though other teams caught on to the trend at the same time, is because a few players were so much better at hitting home runs/three-pointers than the rest of the league. Obviously for the Yankees it was Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, and for the Warriors it was Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
From 1903 to 1927, here are the best single-season home run numbers:
|Babe Ruth, 1927||60|
|Babe Ruth, 1921||59|
|Babe Ruth, 1920||54|
|Lou Gehrig, 1927||47|
|Babe Ruth, 1926||47|
And here are the best single-season three-point numbers in the three-point era:
|Player||Three-Point Field Goals|
|Stephen Curry, 2015-16||402|
|Stephen Curry, 2014-15||286|
|Klay Thompson, 2015-16||276|
|Stephen Curry, 2012-13||272|
|Ray Allen, 2005-06||269|
Those look awfully similar. Even though both Ruth/Gehrig and Curry/Thompson were successful before their pinnacle years, 1927/2015-16 represent the peak for both home runs and three-pointers in each sport's history to that point. It's pretty unbelievable.
They still need to win the championship this year to complete the narrative, but the Warriors' effect on the sport is already in stone. We don't even know if they'll get better, which is yet another crazy thing about this club. Regardless of the championship in front of them or their possible future, all we know today is that the Warriors changed the sport of basketball, and fans of both the Warriors and the sport will look fondly back on this team, just like Yankees fans reflect on the 1927 team 89 years later.