Warriors

Sacrifice pays off: West delivers epic sermon after capturing elusive title

Sacrifice pays off: West delivers epic sermon after capturing elusive title

OAKLAND -- In the midst of a Warriors locker room reeking of champagne and sweat and euphoria stood a 6-foot-9, 260-pound preacher gripping a bottle with barely a sip of bubbly and holding a revival meeting.

David West was on fire, thunderous in his deliver, words spilling out of his mouth like hot lava tumbling down a mountainside.

“This feels better than any check I ever signed,” said the man who has made roughly $90 million over his career and, at $1.55 million this season was among the lowest-paid members of the Warriors.

This was West’s first championship moment in a 14-year career and he wanted everyone on the planet, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to know how it felt.

He had spent the past two years sacrificing salary to pursue the elusive championship that finally came Monday night at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors put away the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

So the muscular veteran known for his steely demeanor broke character, shattering his outer coat of iron and began shouting and shouting like never before.

“We had optional shootaround,” he boomed. “Everybody was in the gym this morning. Everybody was there. Everybody working. That’s what we do. That’s what we do. That’s why we won it. Because even when Coach says ‘Get what you need,’ it’s on you to make the decision, everybody is still working. That’s what this group is about. That’s why we got to the top. Talent only takes you so far. But details and X’s and O’s and committing to one another every single day . . .”

West paused to take his first full breath in about 35 seconds, and then continued.

“We stayed out the streets. We stayed in the gym and won. That’s all it’s about. Straight up.”

West said he was “done, man,” that he had to go.

He stayed. And kept talking.

“I’ve been a part of every single step, and it’s about winning, accomplishing a goal,” he said. “We set a lofty goal for ourselves at the beginning of the year. We talked about just winning a championship. Every single day! So we had no days off. We had no option not to work. Everybody is in the weight room. Everybody is on the court. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the work. Somebody else could have been here. It’s about being a part of a special group and putting together the right type of people. And that’s what we did.”

Acknowledging he may be intoxicated, West was profoundly uninhibited. He did plenty to earn his way with the Warriors, from counseling Draymond Green to zipping adroit passes that resulted in easy passes for a variety of teammates and, here in Game 5, standing chin-to-chin with Cleveland’s big man Tristan Thompson.

West played 11 minutes and totaled 4 points, three rebounds and a blocked shot. He was plus-16 for his time on the court.

His jubilation level was plus-infinity.

Reminded of the financial sacrifice he made by playing for a veteran’s minimum salary, West quickly countered.

“But look: You can’t take it with you,” he said. “The Egyptians learned that. You can’t bury it and take the treasures with you.

So it’s about the small things in life. The accomplishments, man. It’s about winning. And we set a goal and worked every single day toward that goal and nobody can ever take that away from us. Straight up!”

For West, this clearly made it all worthwhile. He has no plans to retire, not yet, but he also has plenty of post-career options already on the table.

For now, he’s content to revel in the moment.

“We won,” West said. “We worked. You see guys with all-world talent sacrificing. You see guys that can do anything they want every single day, yet they come in the gym. Days off were in the gym. No excuses with this group. That’s what I’m most proud of.

“I know how hard these guys worked. Kevin Durant is great because he works. Draymond is great because he works. Steph is great cause he works -- not because it’s given to him. They work. STRAIGHT UP!”

Reminded that he, like fellow 14-year veteran Zaza Pachulia, might have a particularly strong appreciation for the moment, West nodded.

“We’ve been a part of this league for a long time,” he said. “We’ve been a part of bad teams, been a part of good teams that got close. But this is what it’s about. It’s about getting over the hump, getting over the hill, being the last man standing. That’s what makes the NBA worth it, all these years, 14 seasons.”

With that, West’s sermon was over. He grabbed his son and made his way out of the room, leaving behind the wet carpet and cigar smoke and taking his tent with him.

Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Just before the Warriors officially lost the game in Memphis on Saturday night, their superstar point guard lost his cool.

After not getting a foul call with 43 seconds left in the game, Steph Curry chucked his mouthguard in the direction of referee Scott Wall in a fit of rage reminiscent of Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Wall immediately ejected Curry, who continued to argue with the officials.

After the game, Curry wanted to make it clear he wasn't trying to his Wall with his mouthguard.

"If I tried to throw it at him and hit him, I've got a pretty good aim," Curry said told reporters after the game. "I've thrown my mouthpiece plenty of times and thrown it on the floor. Probably not the best thing to do, but I've done it. I own up to it.

"If I was trying to throw it at him or hit him, I would have been able to executed that."

Curry explained why he reacted the way he did.

"That last play, I thought I got fouled. My frustration boiled over, did something stupid, deserved to get kicked out and that's what happened. Obviously learn from it and try not to do it again," Curry told reporters.

Now Curry and the Warriors wait to see if the NBA will suspend or fine him. He has an expectation of what the punishment will be.

"Don't think it will be a suspension or anything. My pockets will be a lot lighter," Curry said after the game.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

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USATSI

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.

Eventually.

They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.