For four decades, there was no reason for members of the record-setting 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers to be nervous.
Since the Lakers had their magical 33-game winning streak, only one team had gotten to even 20 straight. Houston reached 22 in 2007-08, but nobody thought the Rockets, who had lost star center Yao Ming to a season-ending injury midway through their run, seriously could challenge that NBA record.
Now, it's different. Here come the mighty Miami Heat, who won their 20th straight Wednesday and are showing no signs of slowing down.
"It is certainly a possibility that the Heat could break our 33-game winning streak," said Bill Sharman, the Hall of Fame coach of those legendary Lakers. "The record has held for 41 years, and all of us that participated in it are very proud to have been part of that season. However, (Heat president) Pat Riley has put together an amazing team, and I have to admit this one makes me a little nervous."
Riley was a reserve guard on those Lakers, winning his first of eight championship rings as a player, assistant coach, head coach and executive. Now, Riley, after putting together in 2010 the Heat's tremendous trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, is putting some pressure on his old team.
That includes a guy he once backed up.
"I'd say this is the most serious challenge we've had to our streak," Hall of Fame guard Gail Goodrich, the leading scorer on the 1971-72 Lakers with a 25.9 average, said of the Heat. "I think they'll make a very, very, very serious run at our record, They might even break it. They're head and shoulders over the rest of the NBA. Who's going to beat them? There's not as much parity in the league now."
71-72 Lakers believe Heat can top win streak
Fox Sports Florida | Mar 15