Former Warrior David West explains his biggest fear as a black father

Former Warrior David West explains his biggest fear as a black father

Programming note: Tune in to "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" tonight on NBC Sports Bay Area at 8 p.m and streaming here.

David West is 6-foot-9, a muscular 265 pounds and spent 17 seasons barely submerging his inner rage beneath a thick layer of skill and emotional willpower. His fury always was visible, though, and nobody wanted a wisp of his smoke.

And now, two years after his final game delivered the second of two championships won as a member of the Warriors, West fully realizes his biggest fear.

That the day or night will come when his young son, David Benjamin, has a fateful encounter with a highly nervous, easily triggered or simply racist police officer.

“You know, my son is 5-3, 120 pounds. He's 11 years old,” West says. “So, he is a big kid. And I'm scared to death for him.”

West was speaking as a member of a three-man panel, including Rep. Eric Swalwell and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Race in America: A Candid Conversation.” The one-hour discussion will be shown Friday night at 8.

The dread that stalks West is close to all black fathers. We’ve seen, read and heard enough to know the streets can be particularly dangerous for black boys, and not only because of gangs. What cranks up the anxiety within West is the possibility of his son becoming a statistic at the bullet of someone sworn to “protect and serve.”

Fathers know the story of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed by a Cleveland cop. They may not know of 13-year-old Tyre King, killed in 2016 by a cop in Columbus, 140 miles south of Cleveland. They most assuredly know of 18-year-old Michael Brown, killed by Ferguson, Mo., officer in 2014. They may or may not know of 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers Jr., shot by an off-duty St. Louis officer.

Every black father knows, and some have seen the horrible video, of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot in the middle of the street by a Chicago officer.

In many cases the victim was unarmed. In some, not even posing a real threat. Trayvon Martin, 17, was walking home eating Skittles when George Zimmerman played jury, judge and executioner.

“That's my biggest fear,” West says West, who also has a daughter, Dasia. “My children.”

Little David likes basketball. He plays video games. Writes. Draws. And, in case you’re curious, he comes home with impressive report cards.

But he’s not allowed to do as much as he’d like, perhaps go as far away from home as he’d like.

“My wife (Lesley) is like, ‘You gotta send him’ ... I don't want to send him to school,” West says. “I don't want him out of my sight.

“It's that serious for us his parents.”

The fear is not an overreaction within black families. It is a level of apprehension white parents are privileged to avoid. It’s not that cops don’t kill white kids. They do. But this happens less than half as often, even though there are five times as many white teens as black.

When Rutgers University last year conducted a study analyzing deaths involving law enforcement, it concluded that roughly 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in America is likely to be killed by police. The study, conducted from 2013 to 2018, found black men and boys are 2.5 times more likely than white men and boys to be victimized.

“That 1-in-1,000 number struck us as quite high,” sociologist Frank Edwards, who organized the study, told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s better odds of being killed by police than you have of winning a lot of scratch-off lottery games.”

[RELATED: Warriors owners give powerful statement on race relations]

It’s not just the unrelenting tales in 2020 – the latest being the killing of George Floyd – that has West on edge. He is haunted, too, by what he experienced as a 9-year-old in Teaneck, N.J., where Phillip Pannell, a black teen, was fatally shot in the back by Gary Spath, a white officer.

Spath faced a manslaughter charge but was acquitted.

These are things one does not forget because so many similar cases continue to arise.

There also is hope that better days lie ahead. West is encouraged by the energy generated by throngs of multicultural groups, mostly young, demonstrating all over the world in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“The contribution that we want to make is moving this environment, moving the society forward, so that it's better later than it is for us now,” he says. “And that's in service to our children in the future generations.”

Nets GM Sean Marks denies wild Gregg Popovich 'Godfather offer' rumor

Nets GM Sean Marks denies wild Gregg Popovich 'Godfather offer' rumor

Could Kevin Durant and Gregg Popovich team up in Brooklyn?

As unlikely as the scenario is, there is a rumor floating around the NBA Twitterverse that the Nets are preparing to try to lure the legendary coach away from the San Antonio Spurs.

Stick with me here.

During a recent episode of the "Let's Get Technical" podcast, former NBA player Gerald Brown joined hosts Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, and guest Amin Elhassan. Brown said this:

"There's a story going around that the owner of the Brooklyn Nets is looking to make a 'Godfather offer' to Gregg Popovich, and when I say the 'Godfather [offer], it's something he can't refuse," Brown said. "Hearing this news, and it's probably going to circulate more in the days to come, I'm not really buying it at all."

Brown didn't cite a source on this rumor. But back in March, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith did mention Popovich's name as one of three candidates for the Nets' job (H/T The Spun), along with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

The Pop-to-Nets rumor had enough legs to make it all the way back to Brooklyn GM Sean Marks, who was asked during an interview on WFAN radio in New York about the idea of pursuing the longtime Spurs coach.

"Pop has a job," Marks told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Friday. "So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach, and to be quite frank, an even better leader. So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs, and He owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there."

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

But would it make sense for the Warriors nemesis to leave San Antonio for Brooklyn?

The Nets need a permanent coach for the 2020-21 season. Brooklyn fired Kenny Atkinson in March, and interim coach Jacque Vaughn will guide the bare bones team through the NBA restart in Orlando, but he might not be the answer in the long run.

Durant and fellow NBA superstar Kyrie Irving are going to want a coach with experience and a proven plan. While Lue won an NBA title with the Cavs, and Jackson laid the foundation for the Warriors, they aren't the sexy picks.

Why would Popovich leave San Antonio, where he's coached for 24 seasons? The Spurs have been considered the gold standard for NBA teams for the last two decades, but they've fallen on hard times. Their streak of 22 straight NBA playoff appearances likely will come to an end this season, and they don't have a bonafide superstar to build around for the next few seasons.

So maybe it's time for Pop to chase a new challenge. Of course, he's 71 years old and has been coaching in the league since 1988, so maybe his next move is to hang up the clipboard.

But if Popovich wants one more chance to win a ring, bolting for Brooklyn might not be the worst idea, especially if the Nets are willing to make a "Godfather Offer" to him.

[RELATED: Durant all smiles on Dubs anniversary]

There would also be the strange twist of Durant teaming up with Warriors coach Steve Kerr's mentor.

If Pop really did make the move, the Warriors wouldn't have to deal with him in the Western Conference, but if they return to NBA title contention, they might be looking at Popovich, Durant and Irving across from them in the NBA Finals.

Now that's a juicy storyline. NBA Twitter might explode if that happened next summer.

Heat guard Tyler Herro studies Warriors' Klay Thompson to improve shot

Heat guard Tyler Herro studies Warriors' Klay Thompson to improve shot

Klay Thompson's shot is that of near perfection. Steph Curry might be regarded as the greatest shooter in NBA history, but his fellow Splash Brother's form is picturesque. 

Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro is taking note, too. The shooting guard has taken advantage of his time away from the court before the NBA's restart by watching film on Thompson and other greats.

"Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, CJ McCollum, Steve Nash and Bradley Beal are the guys that’s I’ve watched, just picking different things from each player," Herro recently told reporters, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman. 

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

Herro, 20, is averaging 12.9 points per game for the Heat while shooting an impressive 39.1 percent from 3-point range. As a rookie, Thompson shot 41.4 percent from deep and has a career 41.9 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. They don't make many like Klay. 

Miami's young sharpshooter is studying one specific part of Thompson's game, too.

"You know, Klay and Ray, they do the catch-and-shoot very well," Herro said. "So that's the thing that I pay attention to when I'm watching them. But every player that I watch, or the coaches have me watch, I can dissect something new or something different from their game to try to add it to mine."

[RELATED: Steph has funny prediction for Warriors-Cavs bubble rematch]

Herro and the Heat resume their season Aug. 1 against the Denver Nuggets in Orlando. In just his first season, he has helped the Heat become a contender as a feared outside shooter and will play a big role once the NBA returns. 

Rested, healthy and full of more knowledge from hours watching film, we'll soon be able to see what exactly Herro picked up from Thompson other great shooters.