OAKLAND – Want to see a member the Warriors to break into a smile? Ask about the videos.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Not those kinds of videos. There is nothing salacious. Instead of being Rated X, these are rated IM: Immaturely Mature.
The videos compiled by the staff at the request of coach Steve Kerr and his co-conspiratorial assistants are to provide teachable moments. They just happen to be equal parts instruction and comedy, documentary interspersed with slapstick.
Kevin Durant, coming to the Warriors after nine seasons with the austere Oklahoma City Thunder, is realizing not only that he plays in a completely different part of the country but also that he works in an organization that promotes playfulness.
“I realized when I was playing that I was better when I was having fun,” Kerr says.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed that,” Durant says, grinning. “It’s fun, either way for me. I’m used to not joking around. But coming here has definitely been a big joke. It’s also been a disciplined environment. It’s good to have a balance.”
Kerr’s coaching philosophy has, beyond basketball strategy, four basic tenets: joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. He wants his team to apply these elements to their play and practice, and feels they result in a more positive and cooperative environment.
It’s an approach unlike to which the new veterans are accustomed. It’s an adjustment for rookies like Patrick McCaw and Damian Jones. It’s an even bigger adjustment for David West and Durant, both of whom have played under accomplished coaches and made deep postseason runs.
“It’s definitely new,” West says, “but it’s part of the reason why they’ve had so much success here.”
“Most of them just have to feel it,” Kerr says of the new faces. “But I might’ve said something to KD and David, give the vets a little bit of a heads-up that it may not be quite like Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) did it.
“But we try to be productive with our film, try to keep it loose and have some fun with each other.”
Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee, also veterans, are discovering that much of what the Warriors do, even beyond the wacky video sessions, doesn’t fit between tight lines or harsh rules that are the norm for most coaching staffs.
“It is different,” Pachulia said with a smirk. “But it’s such a long season . . . if you don’t mix in some fun, it might get crazy.”
McGee, who is in camp without a guaranteed contract, believes there is a link to the team’s approach and its success, winning 140 regular-season games over the past two seasons, both of which included the NBA Finals.
“It’s a lot different,” McGee says. “Out of all the teams I’ve ever been on, this is the happiest locker room. And the most ‘chill’ locker room I’ve ever been in.
“But when you’re winning 70 games, what is there to be mad about?”
Players and coaches, including Kerr, can be targeted for the relatively benign jokes. Some moments may rival “Shaqtin’ A Fool,” -- Shaquille O’Neal’s episodic bloopers videos that leave viewers giggling at mental gaffes and physical mishaps.
Kerr and his executive producers, led by special assistant Nick U’Ren, were at it again over the weekend, adding non-basketball clips while compiling video of their games last week against the Clippers and Kings.
They were making use of copious material provided by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has spent recent days apologizing after the release of an audiotape in which he boasted of kissing and groping women without consent.
While there was a basketball purpose to raiding the Trump file for comedy, there was another reason beyond the game. Kerr says he reminded everyone to register to vote.
“Trump is offering us lots of opportunities to have fun with our video sessions, and we’ve been taking advantage of that,” he says. “We had ‘famous presidential quotes’ (on Saturday). You can figure where it went from there.”
That clip, we can assume, was Rated X.