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.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller