Warriors hold 'moment of joy' to honor Craig Sager

Warriors hold 'moment of joy' to honor Craig Sager

OAKLAND – Steve Kerr and the Warriors did something Thursday night that they’ve developed a reputation for doing. They flipped the script on tradition.

The organization wanted to honor the life of Craig Sager, who died earlier in the day. That usually means a moment of silence. Not for the Warriors.

Between player introductions and the singing of the national anthem prior to the Warriors-Knicks game at Oracle Arena, Kerr took the microphone. He asked members of both teams to gather on each side of him at center court. Kerr said a few words about his friend Sager and requested that everyone participate in "a moment of joy."


And for about 30 seconds, the crowd on its feet, there was sustained applause.

It was different, yes, and so undoubtedly right.

For Sager was more than a reporter wearing blazers finger-splashed with colors indiscriminately lifted from 123 buckets of paint. He was more than the guy holding the mic during TV timeouts and more than a buddy to all he met.

Sager blazed a singular trail to become the best ambassador-mascot the NBA – or any other sports league – ever could have dreamed on its happiest and most imaginative day.

He was Santa Claus to players and coaches and, over time, became that to fans who viewed him as one of them but also as someone whose human touch was more deft than most. Sager’s presence brightened the arena and everybody in it, from the ushers concessionaires to the owners and superstar players. Then, too, some of the suits Sager wore would make Santa’s outfit look like a middle-school uniform.

So when Sager died at 65 on Thursday morning, after an absurdly brutal war with the demon that is cancer, the NBA lost its best friend and most fervent and beloved cheerleader.

“Today’s a tough day for everybody who knew Craig – and probably even for those who didn’t, who just watched him and enjoyed his work over the last 30-plus years,” Kerr said earlier, his voice catching during his pregame news conference.

Sager’s death prompted an avalanche of tweets and messages from around the league, literally hundreds of individuals expressing their grief over his loss and support for his family.

Michael Jordan referred to Sager as a “legend” and a “friend.” Kobe Bryant tweeted about being “so grateful for the time” Sager shared with us. Bucks coach Jason Kidd posted a photo in which, as a player, he was being interviewed by Sager.

Warriors star Stephen Curry tweeted that Sager “brought the best out of everyone” he met. Kevin Durant said, “We love you!” Draymond Green tweeted that it “was always great to see him,” and urged him to “rest up.” Klay Thompson: “You will be missed greatly by every single hoops fan out there.”

JaVale McGee, who never had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sager, still weighed in to say he wishes he had shared a few moments.

Of all those employed by the Warriors, no one knew Sager better than Kerr, a former colleague at TNT.

“We worked together for eight years . . . a lot of fun games, a lot of fun nights on the road,” Kerr said. “Although with Sages, you only saw him for more than about 15 minutes on the road because he had to move on to the next bar or restaurant to see the next group of people.

“He literally couldn’t sit still. And he knew so many people that he was constantly on the run.”

To say that I knew Craig well would be an exaggeration. Never shared drinks or a postgame meal with him. Nothing more conversation here and there, a walk down a hallway in San Antonio, a pregame meal in Houston, a few chats in the bowels of Oracle Arena.

That and the relentless testimonials from those who knew him well was more than enough for me to conclude years ago, long before he was in the grasp of illness, that Sager was what he appeared to be.

So when Kerr, standing on the court at Oracle, said the NBA has “lost a big part of its soul,” he could not have more accurate.

Rest in peace, Craig Sager. And joy, too.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.