Logan Murdock

Kevin Durant's Warriors tenure earned himself title as Bay Area legend

Kevin Durant's Warriors tenure earned himself title as Bay Area legend

Editor's note: This article originally was published on April 21.

Kevin Durant has had a complicated relationship with acceptance since he descended to the Bay Area. 

Though he won two titles, accomplishing a goal he summoned would end all criticisms of his game, he ultimately never fulfilled his inner purpose of being a part of the Golden State family.

"I’ll never be one of those guys," Durant told the Wall Street Journal last fall. "I didn’t get drafted there. Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there."

Durant's disposition was evident throughout his Warriors tenure, causing the forward to go through unique measures. Nonetheless, his place in Warriors lore is unquestioned, even if he sometimes doesn't feel the sentiment. 

Durant's arrival to Golden State in July 2016 came under controversial circumstances. Just over a month prior, his Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated by his new employer after leading the series, three-game-to-one.

Criticism of Durant's decision were rampant. How could Durant, a top-three player in the league who built a franchise from the ground, leave and join the team that beat him to form the biggest Goliath at the peak of their run? How could he take the easy route, joining the best offense of the modern era?

It wasn't supposed to be this way, NBA observers thought. A player of Durant's caliber wasn't supposed to jump ship to a superior team, teaming up with two generational shooters and a team on the brink of a title. Never mind that LeBron James had built a superteam in Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade six years prior. Or the Celtics had acquired All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008, teaming the duo with All-Star small forward Paul Pierce.

The league is built on talent, but the Warriors had too much of it. 

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Durant and the Warriors flexed that talent in the first year, winning 67 games and posting a 15-1 record in the playoffs. In the NBA Finals, Durant outplayed James, averaging 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists. A year later, he dominated again, helping the Warriors sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. 

Along the way, Durant's disposition continued to appear. In his book "Victory Machine," Ethan Strauss reported that Durant frequently direct messaged fans, complaining that fans preferred Curry over him. He also was known to send direct messages to beat writers and radio hosts if he didn't agree with their coverage of him.

But his uncertainty blinded the pursuit of a goal he was already achieving: Being accepted as a Warriors legend. 

Durant earned the distinction by helping the Warriors beat the Cavs in two straight Finals. He earned it by helping the Warriors beat Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, scoring 21 of his team-high 34 points in the second half, helping the Warriors overcome a 15-point deficit. And it was stamped following his departure to Brooklyn when Warriors chairman Joe Lacob stated that no other player will don his number 35. 

[RELATED: Draymond sounds off about how KD handled his free agency]

Even as he rehabs and preps for his Brooklyn debut, he acknowledges his importance to the Bay, signaling recognition of his status in Warriors history. 

"I really felt like I stamped myself as a legend in the Bay. You look at -- I'm not comparing myself to these guys, but guys that won in the Bay like Jerry Rice and Joe Montana," he said on Showtime's "All the Smoke Podcast." "Won back-to-back in the Bay ... it's like s--t, that's forever.

"So I'm really proud of that."

Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Programming note: Watch the full interview with Nate Boyer and Charles Woodson on tonight’s episode of “Race In America: A Candid Conversation” on NBC Sports Bay Area at 8 p.m., hosted by Monte Poole and Logan Murdock.

Just before the 49ers' penultimate preseason game of 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench as the National Anthem played at Levi's Stadium. Following the game, he explained the gesture was a protest against police brutality. 
It wasn't Kaepernick's first foray into activism. He was inspired to protest by the murder of Mario Woods, who was killed by San Francisco police after an alleged stabbing in 2015. But this was the first time he used the NFL's platform to convey his message and the response was mixed. While he got some support, many league faces like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees criticized the protest, saying it disrespected the military. Others, like President Donald Trump, later offered the same refrain. 
Former NFL long snapper Nate Boyer harbored similar feelings. Inspired to join the military after the Sept. 11th attacks, later becoming a Green Beret. Boyer, a white male, saw the flag as a symbol of his fallen comrades in the line of duty. But instead of openly criticizing Kaepernick, he sought to understand his point of view. 

"That really hurt me," Boyer said. "But I also was like, "All right, don't just react because of your emotions."

The two met days after Kaepernick's initial protest, just before the 49ers' preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers. In the hotel lobby, Boyer told Kaepernick about his experiences with the flag. About the time he brought one of his best friends home in a casket draped with the flag. How standing for the anthem meant he was in solidarity with his fallen soldiers. But Kaepernick had a different take on the anthem and how the lyrics "liberty and justice for all" didn't always apply to Black people. At the end of the meeting, Kaepernick asked Boyer a question.

"Nate, do you think there's another way I could demonstrate or protest that won't offend people in the military?"

Boyer suggested Kaepernick kneel for the anthem and the quarterback agreed. However, despite Boyer's recommendation, Kaepernick's biggest detractors maintained the talking point that the QB's new method of protest was disrespectful to anyone that had served. The stubbornness showed that even when a person's message is crystal clear, critics will use talking points to dilute it, instead of talking things out to enact real change. 

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

While Kaepernick was settling into a new form of protest, former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson was starting his post-playing career in broadcasting at ESPN. He had experienced racism during his youth. 

"I remember one time in probably middle school where we got into it with some folks down the street from my house, and the police rode up on us, man, into our neighborhood and cop has his gun out," Woodson recalled. "He's shaking like a leaf. I'm sitting there standing still and I'm talking to the officer. It's almost as if I'm trying to talk him down, but I'm like, "Hey, man, I'm not moving. I see you shaking, man. I'm not moving, and I'm not going to move."
As Kaepernick remained steadfast in his decision to kneel, Woodson noticed the message behind it continued to be distorted by those criticizing him. 
"People put him on opposite sides of the flag, and that's the way it was presented," Woodson explained. "This is Colin Kaepernick. He's protesting against America. Maybe he doesn't want to be here. He doesn't respect our military. He doesn't respect the flag. And it's like the entire message that he put forth just went right over everyone's head."
Kaepernick kept kneeling and the criticism kept coming, even as police kept killing citizens. Trump continued his verbal onslaught, tweeting players should be "fired" for kneeling. At a rally in Alabama, Trump used inflammatory language in arguing that owners should discipline players who kneeled during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b---h off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired! You know, some owner is gonna do that."
All the while police kept killing unarmed Black people. In 2018, Stephon Clarke was killed by Sacramento authorities in his backyard. Police shot 20 rounds, thinking Clarke had a gun. Following the shooting, only a cell phone was recovered on Clarke's person. More disturbing, both police officers involved were cleared of all charges. 
Nearly two years later, George Floyd -- a 46-year-old Black man -- died after fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin -- a white man -- pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe." Floyd was detained after a store owner alleged he used a counterfeit $20 bill. Police also initially alleged he resisted arrest, but nearby surveillance footage disputed those claims. Since Floyd's death, protests have sprouted around the globe, including Germany and Australia.
As the protests grew in numbers, Kaepernick's name was brought up again, only now with much more reverence. Numerous athletes began plotting out similar protests when their respective sports returned from the coronavirus-inflicted hiatuses. Nonetheless, Brees was still among those pushing back with similar rhetoric, criticizing the form of protest while continuing to miss the point.

[RELATED: Kap, others who didn't vote in 2016 election must do so now]
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees told Yahoo Finance earlier this month. "I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II -- one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. … Is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together.”
This time, however, it was Brees catching the brunt of the criticism, with pundits and players alike reminding him why Kaepernick protested in the first place. But therein lies the problem in today's world. Folks tend to stick to talking points instead of conversing with one another to enact real change. Instead, more should take the route of Boyer and try to understand what the historically-disenfranchised race has been going through for centuries. Maybe then, we can see real change.
"People are kind of gravitating towards one side of an issue or another side of an issue, and not really wanting to hear the other side's opinion or consider the other side's perspective as being valid," Boyer said. "Which is very unhealthy and dangerous."

Warriors Ultimate Draft snubs: Al Attles, Andris Biedrins not selected

Warriors Ultimate Draft snubs: Al Attles, Andris Biedrins not selected

Editor’s note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in NBC Sports Bay Area's inaugural Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a 25-man pool of legends from the last 30 years, plus five "classic" players from before 1990. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

The Warriors Ultimate Draft is behind us, and the rosters are locked. Our initial 30-man pool had plenty of snubs, as did the actual draft.

These six players weren't selected by any of our experts, but maybe they should've been. Here are the snubs from the Ultimate Draft.

Al Attles

Attles is one of the organization's defining figures. He has played, coached and worked for the Warriors ever since the team moved to the Bay Area in 1962.

He was a worthy role player alongside Wilt Chamberlain during the 1960s, and Attles became the first Black head coach to win an NBA championship when the Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the 1975 NBA Finals.

Tom Meschery

Meschery averaged 12.9 points per game in six seasons as a Philadelphia/San Francisco Warrior. He was an All-Star in 1963 and led the Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals alongside Attles and Rick Barry.

The Warriors retired Meschery's No. 14 later that year.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Erick Dampier

Dampier played seven seasons with the Warriors, peaking during the 2003-04 season. He averaged a career-high 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per game, as well as 1.9 blocks. 

The big man signed with the Dallas Mavericks that summer and never reached similar production again.

Sarunas Marciulionis

Marciulionis became the first Soviet player to join the NBA in 1989, a year after he led the Soviet Union to a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics.

He played four years with the Warriors, coming in second in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 1992.

[RELATED: Our experts make their team's case in Warriors Ultimate Draft]

Adonal Foyle

Foyle played 10 years with the Warriors and was part of the "We Believe" team in 2007. Though he never averaged more than 6.0 points or 7.0 rebounds per game, he has become one of the team's most consistent faces.

These days, Foyle is the team's community ambassador. He has held the position since 2014.

Andris Biedrins

Biedrins had some great moments with the Warriors. He was at his best during the 2008-09 season, averaging a career-high 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

But his play soon trailed off, and the Warriors traded him just before beginning their dynastic run. Nonetheless, Biedrins remains a fan-favorite to this day.