Warriors

Rick Barry doubles down on the divine right of kings

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AP

Rick Barry doubles down on the divine right of kings

Rick Barry surprised nobody with his analysis of the criticism of the Trump Administration. He showed his general view on dissent five years ago at the Chris Mullin jersey retirement ceremony.

You remember that bright spot in Warrior history. New owner Joe Lacob, who was already paying for the sins of his predecessor Chris (The Hologram) Cohan and had traded the popular Monta Ellis to turn his backcourt (and his fabulous future) over to the upstart W.S. Curry, was uproariously booed as he stood on a stage at center court in Oakland.

That’s when Barry grabbed the microphone and lectured the rabble.

“C’mon people, show a little bit of class,” he said. “This is a man, that I’ve spent some time talking to, he is going to change this franchise. This is crazy. seriously. C’mon. You’re doing yourself a disservice. All the wonderful accolades being said to you, for you to treat this man, who is spending his money to do that best that he can to turn this franchise around, and I know he’s going to do it. So give him the respect he deserves.”

It is important here to keep his comments within the timeline, as neither he nor anyone else knew what would become of the Warriors three years hence. But it is also to be noted that he dismissed long-suffering customers who had endured decades of rancid basketball since he retired in 1980. They were more than entitled to vent their collective spleen.

But Barry is a man who, rightly and wrongly, believes in the divine right of authority to be treated as authority, which is why what he told USA Today sounds so much like what he told the Coliseum Arena audience that night.

“It’s a disgrace to the world, to our country, what they’re doing,” he said. “The scrutiny that he’s going under is absurd. It’s ridiculous. Politics has always been horrible and it’s even worse now than it was. What’s going on now is reprehensible.”

We now follow with the requisite caveats. He is entitled to his view, as are we all. He is also entitled to express it, as are we all. But his world view is not the issue here as much as his intolerance of people who loudly object to the powers that be by loudly objecting on the behalf of the powerful. It is very much a case of “I’m talking now to tell you to stop talking,” and less explicable, it says that in his world view, respect should automatically be granted to the powerful rather than earned. And when it comes to being a president, or even an NBA owner, it has to be re-earned constantly.

Lacob has managed to do so, a remarkable effort by any metric. Trump is well on his way to failing completely, but that remains an open debate.

Either way, Rick Barry is as Rick Barry has been, and as we suspect he will always be – deferential to the powerful, dismissive of most of everyone else. It’s not a course for the timid, and certainly not for those who wish to, well, be respected.

Five lessons Warriors learned in Boston

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USATSI

Five lessons Warriors learned in Boston

Here are five things were learned about the Warriors during a 92-88 loss Thursday night in Boston.

1) CAN’T ALLOW THE CELTICS TO BREATHE

This was going to be the toughest game of the season, and they knew why. It was the day after a cross-country flight, in a place known for hostility toward visitors and, above all, against a Celtics team coached by Brad Stevens.

Every time the Warriors have played the Celtics since Stevens arrived in 2013, the Warriors have had the superior roster. Yet the Celtics generally are able to make them and keep them sweating for most of the game’s duration.

The Celtics know that. Down 17 with 5:25 left in the second quarter, they got within five at the half. Down 17 with 4:59 left in the third quarter, they went on a 19-0 run to take a lead inside the final minute of the quarter.

The Bucks and the Heat disrupt can Warriors’ offense enough to hang around. The Spurs and Grizzlies can at times make things tough for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Only the Celtics can consistently do both.

2) WARRIORS DIDN’T ADAPT TO THE WHISTLES

The officials -- chief James Capers, Pat Fraher and Tyler Ford -- were at best a middling crew by NBA standards. Capers is an ordinary lead, Fraher a mediocre No. 2 and Ford one of the weakest officials in the league.

The Celtics are a physically aggressive team. That’s particularly true of Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown, each of whom plays as if gunpowder is running through his bloodstreams. On a normal night, they practically dare referees to call fouls. On this night, with this crew, they were in heaven.

The Warriors were, by contrast, in purgatory. Never adjusting and rarely matching Boston’s physical intensity, the Warriors were outrebounded 52-47 and, moreover, lost the second-chance points battle 18-5.

The Celtics earned their decisive 38-19 margin in free throw attempts.

3) CAN’T CRUISE AGAINST CONTENDERS

The Warriors, supremely confident, will go through stretches of a game where they simply lose interest or focus. There is a growing belief within the league that they will allow comebacks.

That belief is based in fact, at least as it pertains to the league’s better teams. The Warriors led the Pistons by 14 and lost by eight, led the Grizzlies by five and lost by 10, led the Rockets by 17 and lost by one.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone reminded his players of that on Nov 4 in Denver. They wiped out an early 13-point deficit to go up by 2. It didn’t last, but . . .

Now this. The Warriors can look say they should have won all four of their losses. Quality opponents can look back and believe the Warriors are lack killer instinct.

They had it during 2017 playoffs. Maybe they’re waiting for the REAL season.

4) STEVE KERR SOMETIMES HAS TOO MUCH FAITH

The coach believes in his team, as well he should, for it has rewarded him with three consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and two championships.

That said, there was no emphatic response to the Warriors giving back 12 points of a 17-point lead in the first half and all of a 17-point lead in the third quarter.

Kerr called a timeout at the 3:17 mark of the second quarter, after Boston whittled a 44-27 Warriors lead down to 45-34. There was no timeout over the remainder of the half, which ended with the Warriors leading 47-42.

Another timeout was called with 3:46 left in the third quarter, after the Celtics shrunk the 17-point lead to 10, 66-56. Out of the timeout, Boston went on a 12-0 run, taking a 68-66 lead with 53.8 seconds remaining in the quarter.

The game was arrhythmic. The officials seemed overmatched. Kerr, believing in his players and anticipating a close game down the stretch, wanted to save his timeouts. He used them all, but one timeout during a 19-0 run seems sparse.

5) STRANGE FEAR OF THE CUP

Boston plays tremendous team defense, but the Warriors made it easy on the Celtics, particularly down the stretch by forgetting they have no rim protector.

The Warriors were 7-of-21 from the field in the fourth quarter. Within that they were 3-of-12 from deep. They fired four triples for every three shots in the paint. Six of the eight shots they took over the final 2:21 were from deep.

We know the Warriors love the 3-ball and that it has been very good for them. But in a close game featuring mediocre officials, they settled for long jumpers rather than going right at one of Boston’s few defensive weaknesses. The Celtics rely on team defense because they rank 24th in blocks.

The Warriors, to be sure, shied away. They feared when there was nothing to fear.

Kevin Durant: 'Steph Curry is the face of the franchise'

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AP

Kevin Durant: 'Steph Curry is the face of the franchise'

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here

When Kevin Durant signed on to join the Warriors before the 2016-17 season, chatter started up on if he would become of the new face of the franchise. Just ask Durant himself though, and he'll turn right to the two-time MVP. 

“Steph Curry is the face of the franchise, and that helps me out, because I don't have to,” Durant said to GQ Magazine.

In Golden State, Durant can take a step back and do everything as a collective whole with all the Warriors' star power. And that includes being a leader. 

“I don't want to have to be the leader. I'm not a leader," Durant said. "I'm bad at saying, ‘Stand behind me and follow me.’ No. I'm one of those guys that's just like, ‘Let's do this shit together. Let's just work everybody together. I don't mind being on the front line with you, but let's come and do it together.’"

Don't think that means Durant shys away from a leadership role. It's just not in the same way as Curry and Draymond Green, among others, and Durant certainly appreciates he can just be who he is. 

"That's my way of leadership. I'm leading by example.”

Since joining the Warriors, Durant has been named an All-Star and won his first championship and NBA Finals MVP, all while averaging 25 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 rebounds per game.