OAKLAND Yes, Warriors coach Mark Jackson has made the big, brash proclamation before, but now the words are framed by playoff accomplishment and national attention.
After Stephen Curry's and Klay Thompson's scintillating tandem performance Tuesday, could they be fulfilling Jackson's repeated claim they're the greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history?
Better than, say, the Los Angeles Lakers' Hall of Fame duo of Jerry West and Gail Goodrich?
"I don't get into those things," West, a member of the Warriors' executive board, said with a laugh Wednesday. "I'm happy Mark said that. They're great shooters. But I want them to become the greatest backcourt that ever played together."
The ceiling just gets higher and higher for Thompson and Curry, who combined for 51 points in the Warriors' 131-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets that evened their first-round series 1-1. Curry is finishing his fourth NBA season; Thompson is in his second.
"You look at them, and there's still considerable improvement they can make," West said. "And they're already very good, both of them.
"You just don't see shooting like that from people in this league anymore."
Former Warriors great Chris Mullin said this is a perfect instance of Jackson giving his key players the freedom to achieve big things. But Mullin also points out Curry just broke the NBA record for three-pointers made in a season and that Thompson is a knockdown, spot-up shooter.
"It's all about the now, right? So right now, yeah, they're the best ever," Mullin said. "Mark knows his guys; he knows he's boosting confidence. It's the right button to push.
"I think Mark deserves a lot of credit. Those guys have total confidence, the green light, and they've been able to consistently make those shots. That's the confidence of the coach rubbing off on the players."
Grizzlies Center Marc Gasol insisted he wasn't just being charitable when he credited his teammates for his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Playing great defense is just what they do in Memphis.
"It's a team game, and there's no way around it. That's how we play basketball," Gasol said. "It actually feels much better when we do it like that. You create something bigger than yourself. It's not just about you."
Gasol averaged 1.7 blocks for a Memphis defense that allowed a league-best 88.7 points per game.
Cavaliers Conceding publicly for the first time he never should have fired Mike Brown as coach in the summer of 2010, owner Dan Gilbert said he's thrilled to re-hire the most successful coach in franchise history.
"Yeah, it was a mistake," Gilbert said. "We are very happy that we get to rectify any position we took back then."
Brown guided the Cavaliers to the playoffs in each of his five seasons with them, then was replaced by Byron Scott, who was fired last week.
"It's funny how life works out," said Brown, who was fired by the Lakers five games into this season. "But the one thing that I do know is from afar, Cleveland has always been special in my heart and in my family's heart. You feel the commitment from a guy like Dan Gilbert, and if it happens, you feel like one of the luckiest guys on the planet."
Nets Guard Joe Johnson might miss Game 3 of Brooklyn's playoff series against Chicago tonight because of a foot injury.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.