For new Warriors PF West, anthem statement hits home

For new Warriors PF West, anthem statement hits home

OAKLAND – Still sweating from his Monday practice session, David West slides behind a small table, takes a seat and for 11 minutes turns his space into a platform.

The Warriors power forward addresses the catalyst for his subtle demonstration during the playing of the national anthem, during which he stands a few feet behind teammates while contemplating the global state of affairs.

His heightened awareness goes back more than 26 years, to April 1990, when a 16-year-old black boy in his Teaneck, N.J. neighborhood was chased into an alley and killed by a white police officer.

West considers his actions, taken most recently prior to the Warriors-Raptors game Saturday in Vancouver, B.C., less a protest than a personal statement.

“I’ve never been a ‘I’m going to protest the anthem’ (guy),” he says. “The idea is that there is a certain way this society interrelates with one another that does not speak to the humanity of black people in this country. That has been a beginning issue. That is something that I feel is the most important issue.

“If you think about the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, he was turned into something other than a human being, if you read the words that were used to describe him. He was dehumanized. And when you dehumanize people, then you can treat them however you want, you can do what you want to them. And so the humanity part is, for me, the first step that we need to take. And that’s what it’s always been about. It hasn’t been about the anthem. It’s been about me being socially aware.

“The first time I dealt with police violence,” West continues, “I was 9 years old. An officer by the name of Gary Spath shot a dude by the name of Phillip Pannell in the back . . . I’ve been in front of this for a very long time. And as a child, when you deal with that . . . we didn’t address the issues that that brought to us as young children. The whole block was full of children, and we experienced that. I was 9 years old. I’m 36. And we’re still dealing with the same thing.”

Though he understands the widely publicized position taken by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision in August to protest the anthem has reignited discussion about racial and economic inequality in the United States, West has been quietly demonstrating for most of his 13-year NBA career.

What sparked West’s concern and attention as young boy still drives his thoughts and actions as one of the most respected veterans in the NBA.

“What we’re dealing with now, it’s not new,” he says. “Maybe it’s raising awareness for some guys, which is great. But there are a lot of people who have always stayed the course and been fighting the good fight. I don’t think that it’s so much about the gesture. I think it’s more about the issues and people willing to humanize one another, which is my point in all of this.

“I don’t want this to continue. Obviously, there’s a lot of healing that needs to go on. But I’m going to continue to do my work, continue to contribute where I can, because that’s what matters in the end.”

West, like Kaepernick, sees his actions as deeply personal, demanded by his conscience. But West is focused on a wider target, covering not only police brutality but also poverty, child neglect, incarceration and education.

He considers all of it, every cause, as solvable by decent and humane treatment.

“The same language that was used to demonize guys – whether or not you think they were unjustly murdered – is the same language you were hearing when I was 9 years old,” he says. “And that’s my issue. Humanize people. We are people. We wake up. We go to sleep. We use the bathroom. We need water and food to survive. Humanize people.

“Our issue is to step on the level playing field of humanity. That has been the issue. It’s not about an anthem. It’s not about the specific issue. You need to humanize who we are, what we are. And that’s really it. It’s not something that is easy. It’s not something that’s going to go away overnight. But the human element of it has got to the first step. Before we get to the details, let’s humanize people.”

It is late in this passionate session that West brings the subject home. Literally. He talks about how his mother Harriet, after the Pannell shooting (the officer, who had fired his weapon three times in the previous five years, was charged with manslaughter but acquitted), kept closer watch on her children. And how he already has felt the need to discuss racial bias with his son, also named David.

“He’s 7, but he’s the size of an 11-year-old,” West says. “So I’ve got to talk to him now.”

West has an end game. He knows what he wants and hopes to live to see it. Solving America’s biggest social issue begins with making the phrase “all men are created equal” not merely a line in the Declaration of Independence but a living reality.

“It’s just one of those moments,” he says of the anthem, “where we’ve got to really examine the human element in this. We’ve got to start there before start anywhere else.”

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'


Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'

The Cavaliers are going to be without head coach Tyronn Lue indefinitely.

On Monday morning, Lue issued the following statement through the team:

"After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization's support throughout."

Lue has had to leave multiple games early this season due to his health.

Get well, Tyronn.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.