The whole 'Warriors-as-villains' thing might die before it really lived

The whole 'Warriors-as-villains' thing might die before it really lived

PORTLAND – We’ve seen no pitchforks, no torches, no spittle leaping off the lips of the livid. One week into the NBA season, the promise of great rage and fury coming down upon the Warriors away from Oakland has thus far gone unmet.

The search for an explanation settles, perhaps most of all, upon the Warriors themselves and their failure to immediately meet enormous expectations.

Surely there would be anger in the stands if the Warriors, looking like the machine as presumed, had opened the season with a blowout victory over San Antonio. By getting pounded at home and being merely a cut above average in two victories, it seems they’ve taken the teeth out of the anticipated hatred.

It’s hard to sling venom at a team struggling to find itself.

Maybe that will change Tuesday night in Portland, where the Trail Blazers, bumped from the playoffs by the Warriors last May, boast one of more rabid fan bases in the league. Maybe the Warriors will enter Moda Center perceived as Lucifer’s spawn and at last get showered with boos.

That was not the case for the vast majority of the preseason schedule and it most certainly was not the case in Phoenix on Sunday or in New Orleans two nights earlier. The Warriors, in both places, from pregame introductions to final buzzers, received only a smattering of boos among the cheers. And there were many cheers, just as there were last season when they became the league’s shiniest toy.

Now, any visiting team is going to get at least a smattering of disapproval. That’s how fandom is designed to work. The Warriors, however, were not supposed to be any visiting team. They were designated as the Super Team, and therefore to be portrayed with all the evil that accompanies such a label. After rampaging through the league last season, winning a record 73 games, they responded to losing the NBA Finals by gathering the core of that splendid roster and serenading the singular superstar Kevin Durant until he could not say no.

Such gall and greed was, by most accounts, bound to incite the usual protests that accompany the rich brazenly getting richer and bragging about it. Hate the bully. The narrative made sense.

Already among the elite, the Warriors set fire to the concept of parity! They bought themselves a better team! They’re trying to destroy the model for the proper construction of an NBA team! Durant is a weasel four days a week and an ungrateful scoundrel on the other three!

That not any of this is true, or ever was, was beside the point. The rebellion was on, and the Warriors were going to pay for their nefarious ways with blistered eardrums in the various centers, arenas, palaces, forums, fieldhouses and gardens that dot the NBA landscape.

Teams would trash-talk them, but fans would detest them. It was only a couple weeks ago, in the midst of a six-game preseason win streak, that coach Steve Kerr grinned and sarcastically referred to the Warriors as “Super Villains.”

Kerr, further indulging his playful side, followed up by authorizing the Warriors to wear T-shirts with the words “Super Villains” imprinted on the front.

Kerr seemed to be saying, “if they hate us because we’re good, we may as well have fun with it.”

Yet the anticipated verbal malice has not materialized. Stephen Curry still gets earfuls of love on the road. Kerr receives at least polite applause. Even Draymond Green, who during the last postseason became a caricature for mischief, if now evil, has been subjected to barely a whisper of loathing.

As for Durant, scripted to be the primary target for “abandoning” his previous employer, he’s heard more oohs than boos.

No doubt the Warriors, Durant and Green in particular, are going to hear when they go to Oklahoma City. That’s not until February, though.

There are three-plus months of meantime, though, so the Warriors had better start demolishing opponents and giggling over the ruins.

Maybe then, the haters will start hating. Otherwise, this whole Warriors-as-villains thing will die before it ever really lived.

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.