Warriors

Eric Paschall, Chase Center vibe positives in crazy Warriors season

Eric Paschall, Chase Center vibe positives in crazy Warriors season

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

This season feels like a boat being tossed on high waves. I’m naming this boat "Sports Fandom," and it’s going on an 82-game journey. After one game, the boat rocks in the direction of amazing! Fun group! What a story! The next game yanks the boat back to accusations of tanking. Who are these guys?! 

I think I’ve seen every tank GIF on Twitter because fans send them to me. Thanks ... you can stop. And I’ve seen the positive reactionary tweets with M-V-Paschall and Rookie of the Year chatter.  

I’d rather traffic in the positive. An opportunity to learn is always beneficial. This little boat is going to ride through some storms, but the journey is what matters. 

There’s a second boat named "Stop Writing In Cliches," with a loud horn signaling me to get on with the mailbag.

Game On!

@kelcatinc This will be your first year reporting on the dubs that they may possibly miss the playoffs...how you holding up?

@HV1443 Does this make your job easier or harder?

I’m holding up fine! I have the same duties every game, win or lose. My job is to tell the stories of the players on the team, and relay observations during the game to the viewers. 

My broadcasting team has the right philosophy, lead by our producer Phil. He’s been on the Warriors beat for about a dozen years, and he wants to make sure there’s no difference in the quality of our broadcast whether we’re covering a 20-win team or a 60-win team. 

Bob Fitzgerald, Jim Barnett, and Tim Roye have been on the job decades. Kelenna Azubuike keeps an even keel from his playing days. Plus, he’s just a chill dude. They all bring the same perspective: Call a compelling game no matter the circumstances.

It’s great being surrounded by professionals who have seen it all. 

The group of reporters who cover the team daily noticed the national media coverage has fallen off. That means the players are not spread thin with interview demands, and we have better chances to get one-on-one time with them for deeper conversations. That’s going to lead to some great stories. I’m certain Warriors fans will enjoy the coverage this season on TV and online.

Via instagram, @goldenstatewarriorsreign: With Eric Paschall’s success, do you think his role will be magnified even further? I see him as a nightly 20 minutes off the bench guy. 

This question came the morning before Paschall erupted for 34 points and 13 rebounds on his 23rd birthday. Paschall has been the Warriors’ best new player to start the season, and if these performances continue, he’ll be one of the best new players in the league, period. 

Paschall’s maturity and years in a strong Villanova program are flowing into extended playing time for the Dubs. He’s learning quickly. He admitted he did not think he would have to do so much, so soon, but that’s the situation and he’s not backing down. 

Right now he’s in a starting role, and that should be the case for a while, even when Draymond Green and Kevon Looney come back. What’s next for Paschall is working his way around double-teams now that defenses know they have to key-in on him to limit his explosive performances. 

@GJohnde What are your thoughts on Willie? #askKerith

Willie is coming along. It’s difficult to have a training camp injury while joining a new team. While other players got their conditioning up and began their understanding of the schemes, he had to sit and watch. 

He has had flashes of exciting play, with some lobs and dunks. The Warriors always demand a strong defensive presence, so more rim protection and rebounding would be helpful.

Willie seems to have the right attitude and I think he’ll find his way to solid nights of contribution. 

@rory_h_r What's the atmosphere in the new stadium? How are fans feeling?

Via instagram, @sasutherland1: What is the vibe of the new stadium and how does it compare to Oracle?

The Blazers’ sideline reporter is a friend of mine and it felt special to hear her call Chase Center “beautiful.” The look of this place could really make it a basketball mecca in the West, especially when the product on the court is championship level. They’ll get there. 

The atmosphere so far is loud and engaged. The home fans most recently saw the games against the Hornets (tight game until some last-minute mistakes) and Blazers (big win over one of the best backcourts in the NBA) and they came through with high energy. It’s loud at Chase Center when the fans are in a frenzy. 

Warriors Insider Monte Poole and I were talking about how fans understand this year will be different, and they’re behind their team with encouragement. It reminds him of the old, less-prosperous seasons at Oracle where fans appreciate the game and want to build up the guys with love. 

@Dugstreet Where is your favorite place to eat at Chase Center so far? I haven’t been there yet, but would like to know the yummiest food? Thank you Kerith.

I like the chicken sandwiches at Bakesale Betty, and Tacolicious is a favorite of mine, at Chase or around town. I mostly eat in the media room where I can grab a salad. There’s also a frozen yogurt machine and I’m starting a pre-game routine where I eat a small bowl of froyo with oreo topping.   

Click right here for a list of the Chase Center food options. Lots of yummy choices!

Via instagram, @mass.of.one: Are the Warriors the first team to pass out T-shirts to the crowd for playoff games? I don’t remember any teams that did that before the We Believe playoffs. 

I needed Warriors' PR man Ray Ridder’s help to answer this question and he believes the "We Believe" playoffs were the first time a team created T-shirts for the crowd. He’s not 100% certain, but he’s pretty sure, and if you know Ray’s ability to recall things, he’s usually right. 

Via instagram, @spindrome: Where are you going for your next big vacay? 

My next holiday will be All-Star Break. My husband and I like to get away to a beach when we have time together. We’re thinking Hawaii. 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Sister Regena @sistahbabygirl for some perspective. 

Her Twitter bio says she’s a Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose and Andre Iguodala’s number one fan. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her and she’s a real one.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

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."

Steph Curry has cheeky prediction for Warriors-Cavs rematch in Chicago bubble

Steph Curry has cheeky prediction for Warriors-Cavs rematch in Chicago bubble

If the NBA goes forward with a second "bubble" in Chicago this fall, the plan would include two teams who were innately familiar with one another last decade.

The Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played one another in four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 through 2018, but the league's once-mighty cross-conference rivalry has, uh, fallen just a bit over the last two years. The Cavs immediately returned to the league's cellar when prodigal son LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Warriors joined them there this season after Steph Curry played just five games and Klay Thompson played none.

A rematch of the NBA's preeminent Finals matchup of the previous decade doesn't sound very appealing, especially for a meaningless set of exhibition games. Cavs forward Larry Nance Jr. attempted to drum up enthusiasm any way he could, and Curry responded with a (not really) bold prediction of his own.

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

The Warriors' second matchup with the Cavaliers this season never happened, since the NBA paused the season due to the coronavirus pandemic about a month before the Cavs' scheduled first trip to Chase Center on April 8. Golden State handled Cleveland without Curry on Feb. 1, beating Nance and Co. 131-112.

That bodes well for any lowly-anticipated rematch, as it's hard to imagine Curry making the trip to the Windy City. The Warriors reportedly wouldn't have let Curry play in Orlando had Golden State been asked to finish its season, and those games would have had some meaning. Curry -- or Thompson and Draymond Green, for the matter -- participating in a reportedly voluntary training camp with exhibition games doesn't seem realistic.

[RELATED: Warriors could try to add these six under-radar free agents]

It's also unclear if a second bubble will actually happen. NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh tweeted Thursday that a source said they'd be "surprised" if the eight teams not participating in Orlando actually got together, and another said there was "definitely no consensus" among the Warriors, Cavaliers and their eliminated peers.

In the meantime, at least we have jokes.