OAKLAND (California) • Now that the Golden State Warriors have set the National Basketball Association record for the most wins during a regular season, the team must grapple with an even bigger challenge: Winning a second straight title.
The Warriors, led by reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, finished the season at 73-9 after decimating the Memphis Grizzlies 124-104 on Wednesday.
The win moved them ahead of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who had previously held the record with 72 victories. That Bulls team, led by Michael Jordan, went on to win the title, and he will be following the Warriors' post-season fortunes.
"I want to congratulate the Warriors on their amazing season," Jordan said in a statement. "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 play-offs."
US President Barack Obama, an avowed Bulls fan, also offered his congratulations.
WARRIORS' RECORD SEASON
The Golden State Warriors recorded the most wins in a season in National Basketball Association history.
They won their first 36 at home, part of a record 54-game winning streak at home over two regular seasons.
Away wins - a NBA record.
0 They have no back-to-back losses, which is unprecedented in the NBA.
9 Milwaukee, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Portland, LA Lakers, San Antonio, Boston and Minnesota were the only teams to beat the Warriors, the first franchise who never lost to the same team twice in a season.
Field goals made from behind the arc - the first team to make 1,000 three-pointers in a season.
"Congrats to the @Warriors, a great group of guys on and off the court," he tweeted. "If somebody had to break the Bulls' record, I'm glad it's them."
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who played for the Bulls in that historic year, said the end of the regular season brings a "clean slate".
"It was a great way to finish off what was an incredible regular season," he said ahead of the Warriors' Game 1 clash against the Houston Rockets in the first round of the play-offs tomorrow (Sunday morning, Singapore time). "I don't think this one will ever be broken. Someone has to go 74-8 and I don't see it.
"Now obviously we want to finish off the season in the right way and it's going to be a lot of work."
Houston claimed the final play-off berth in the West on Wednesday with a 116-81 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Any questions about whether the Warriors would break one of the NBA's most storied records were answered as Curry scored a game-high 46 points, including 10 three-pointers to reach a record 402 on the season.
His 41st point, which came late in the third period, ensured he would finish with a scoring average above 30.0, making him the only Warrior in history other than Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry to hit that mark.
"He just had one of the most amazing seasons that anybody has ever had in the history of the league," Kerr said of his talisman, who scored 40 or more for the 13th time this campaign.
Draymond Green unofficially recorded a steal at the end of the game - securing the game ball.
"I'm a part of the best team ever," said Green, who added that the history-making ball would be cut up and divided among Warriors players and coaches. "Not many guys can say that. That's amazing."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE