Warriors

'Woke' David West is going to fight the fight against Donald Trump

'Woke' David West is going to fight the fight against Donald Trump

Programming note: Warriors-Heat coverage starts today at 3:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

He is a credentialed NBA star, with enough personal wealth to choose achievement over dollars, the conviction to stand on principle and such an acute cultural awareness that he’s simply unable to tune out the despair gripping much of America.

David West has deep concerns and many questions.

It’s not that he questions himself and everything he was taught and remains committed to teaching others. The Warriors forward, 36, has seen inequality, up close, yet still continues to believe in the human spirit and its capacity to overcome.

Though he clearly is disturbed by the wave of crude belligerence represented by our latest president, Donald Trump, inaugurated only days ago, what’s more distressing to West is the transparent bigotry and misogyny, which points up the rampant ignorance behind his rise.

“He brought out an element of our society that a lot of folks assumed was dead,” West said on the CSN Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast. “A lot of folks assumed that that part of our country was no longer, based on the election of President Obama. But what Donald Trump did was, he reached for a demographic of people who responded to some of the most infantile, non-decent language that you could expect coming from a president candidate. Folks bit.”

West didn’t bite. Didn’t even think about biting. No, he’s going the opposite way.

He’s going to fight the fight. The married father of two is going to do it by flexing his mind more than his imposing 6-foot-9, 250-pound physique.

He’s going to stand with the millions of women who marched over the weekend. He’s going to stand with the millions of people who feel their quest for justice is endangered. He’s going to stand with those whose health care is in peril. He’s going to stand with those who understand that science telling us that climate changes is a grave global threat.

West is going to stand for truth and fairness and courtesy, even if he is uncertain whether the president sending out angry tweets and advocating “alternative facts” will be standing at his side.

“All the tactics that he used to get elected are the very things that someone like me, who works with youth on a consistent basis, are the things that we try to talk our young folks out of being,” West said. “We try to talk our young people out of being bullies. We try to talk our young men out of disrespecting women. We try to talk our young people into being accepting of other people’s opinions and other people’s walks of life.

“And he is the complete opposite of all of that.”

West, who earned his degree in communications from Xavier University in 2003, studies people of all stripes, from the great philosophers such as Nietzsche and Plato, to his coaches and the youngsters he mentors. He has a passion for knowledge as well as a profound appreciation for others with similar pursuits. Moreover, he believes in first-hand involvement.

So he involves himself in issues pertinent to gaining knowledge and investing -- financially, emotionally and intellectually -- in the future. He examines reality and how it relates to such issues as the infant mortality rate, the hypocrisy contained within United States Constitution and the tenuous dynamic between law enforcement and people of color.

West doesn’t stop there. He is a crusader for human rights. He has made multiple visits to Africa to peel back the layers of those who inhabit the continent. He is acutely attuned to matters of climate change; he’s the lone athlete/celebrity on the advisory board of Zoetic Global, an American-based group devoted to clean-energy technology, specifically hyperkinetic turbines.

West is, in the vernacular, “woke.”

He vocalized full support for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose very public attempts to shine a light on the frequency of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement.

There was considerable outrage over Kaepernick’s perceived disrespect of the flag as a symbol for the country when his actual cause is a plea for fairness.

“And people are too one-sided, too one-dimensional in their thought process, to get to that,” West said. “So all they saw him doing was a physical gesture. All they saw him doing was taking a knee.

“The issue, when we get to the basis of all this, is that there is a group of people who want justice -- people who want justice. And regardless of opposite or opposing views, justice should be just. And it should be for everyone. And when that environment doesn’t exist or is not readily available in terms of what we’re witnessing, then people are going to have things to say.”

Asked about the value of and prevalence with which sports celebrities speak up, as Kaepernick did, West offered an enlightening response.

“I’m not sure that the athletes, in terms of a collective group, are in a position, in terms of information, to take the type of stand that Colin took,” he said. “That’s kind of what gets lost in the interpretation as well. Folks see him, and if you’ve ever listened to Colin speak or if you ever followed him, he has a large information base. And I think it’s unfair to assume that other pro athletes have that same base.

“That’s very important, because what we have now, on the flip side, is very low-information athletes or former athletes who do speak up and who say things, who should not be saying anything at all.”

As for those NBA authority figures, such as Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, comfortable with sociopolitical dialogue openly and from a knowledgeable perspective, West expresses gratitude for their words and effort.

“Those guys are different,” he says, “because they take the time to become a little bit more understanding of the guys they are around most of the year.

“Steve wants to know how we feel about what popped up on the news yesterday or the day before, about what’s going on because all of that plays a part who you are.”

As irritated as West is with the disrespect frequently shown to former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black commander-in-chief, he was pleased with Obama’s ability to reply with “dignity and class” under sometimes trying conditions.

We have elected in Trump someone who West, putting it mildly, “somebody who’s not as nuanced in dealing with folks.”

West is among a select group of high-profile athletes to speak openly of his concern about Trump. Knicks center Joakim Noah expressed his discontent, as has Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and former 49ers receiver Torrey Smith.

West, however, is among the elder statesmen of American athletes. And someone who puts his mind and time where his heart is. So, there remains at least . . . hope.

“We’re just in for a very different type of administration, where we’ve got to brace for a different type of leadership, unlike anything this country has ever seen,” he said of Trump. “For a lot of folks, they’re just trying to see what he’s going to do next. What’s going to happen? Some of the things he’s said, the things that he’s backed up, the things he’s projected of himself out onto the world, I don’t think anybody expected him to be able to get elected to such a prestigious and powerful seat in this country.

“I don’t know how you balance it. We all have to just wait and see. Folks inside the political system, who are tasked with the job of keeping him in check and keeping him under control, we’ve got to hold their feet to the fire.”

Coming Soon: The Steph Curry Effect

Coming Soon: The Steph Curry Effect

OAKLAND -- Postseason basketball is about to get considerably easier for Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant and, well, the rest of the Warriors.

Stephen Curry, sidelined for the past five weeks with a knee injury, could rejoin the Warriors as soon as Saturday for Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal series against the New Orleans Pelicans.

After going through his first controlled scrimmage since mid-March on Thursday, Curry was upgraded to questionable.

“He did everything and looked good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Curry’s return is significant largely for his impact on offense, as his mere presence puts immeasurable pressure on opposing defenses. Nobody spreads the floor quite like he does.

Though he wasn’t needed to put away the Spurs in the first round, Curry might be essential against a white-hot New Orleans team that rolled up points (114.5 per game, 114.7 offensive rating) while containing guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in their first-round sweep of the Trail Blazers.

As good as Lillard and McCollum are, Curry and Thompson would pose an altogether deeper set of problems. Thompson’s length (he’s 6-foot-7) and strength will be tough to the Pelicans to handle. With Curry, the challenge is defending his ability to shoot from deep as well as he penetrates.

The Warriors posted an astonishing 120.4 offensive rating in the 51 games that Curry played in the regular season. Without him, they dropped to just above 106. Those statistics illustrate the Curry Effect.

As Durant has said on multiple occasions: “Steph is the system” with the Warriors. On a team for which any one of three players can ring up 30 or more points in a game, Curry is the centerpiece.

With him, they can take the floor knowing they can outscore just about any team. Without him, they know they that would be an exceedingly tall task.

“We were excited,” Thompson said of seeing Curry on the practice court. “I know he is very eager to play. He’s a competitor, so I know that sitting down kills him. We can‘t wait for him to get back, whenever that is.”

It may be Saturday.

“What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day and put him through another practice (Friday),” Kerr said. “He needs to string together a few good days, but it was very positive today.”

Curry is ready. He closed his practice session, supervised by assistant coach Bruce “Q” Fraser, by shouting, “We back, Q! We back.” The two then leapt into the air, bumping chests and giggling.

Statistical comparison between the Warriors and Pelicans since Cousins' injury

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AP

Statistical comparison between the Warriors and Pelicans since Cousins' injury

On Jan. 26, the Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending injury.

Without Cousins, they went 21-13 down the stretch and finished with the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.

Over that same time period, the Warriors won 19 of their final 33 games (including only seven of their last 17) as they dealt with an onslaught of injuries to their stars as well as their bench.

These stats below (from Jan. 27 through the end of the regular season) paint a picture of how Golden State and New Orleans differed, leading up to their second round matchup starting Saturday night:

OFFENSE:

Assists per game:

Pelicans T-3rd: 27.1 assists
Warriors 5th: 27.1 assists

Rebounds per game:

Pelicans 5th: 46.1 rebounds
Warriors 24th: 42.5 rebounds

Field goal percentage:

Warriors 1st: 49.1%
Pelicans 8th: 48%

3-point percentage:

Warriors 5th: 38.2%
Pelicans 20th: 35.3%

Points per game:

Pelicans 3rd: 112.6 ppg
Warriors 12th: 109.5 ppg

Turnovers per game:

Pelicans 16th: 13.8
Warriors 25th: 15.1

DEFENSE:

Opponent field goal percentage:

Pelicans 5th: 44.6%
Warriors 11th: 45.8%

Opponent 3-point percentage:

Pelicans 5th: 34.5%
Warriors 11th: 35.5%

Defensive Rating:

Pelicans 5th: 103.7
Warriors 12th: 105.6

Blocks per game:

Pelicans 1st: 7.0 blocks
Warriors 2nd: 6.8 blocks