Irving's Game 5 masterpiece leaves LeBron, Cavs in awe


Irving's Game 5 masterpiece leaves LeBron, Cavs in awe

OAKLAND - The Cavs locker room was nothing but smiles Monday night following their shocking 112-97 shellacking of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Smiles, ice and more smiles.

While LeBron James stared down at his phone, half the team sat together looking like a group of kids in a middle school class, one of which who had just put a thumbtack on the teacher’s chair.

They were guilty. Guilty of walking into a hostile environment and shocking the NBA world. Guilty of making a couple of hundred reporters jump onto travel sites in hopes of landing an overpriced plane ticket back to Cleveland. Guilty of defying the odds and living to play another game.

Kyrie Irving was one of the players huddled together. He was joined by Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, but the latter three were an afterthought.

Irving had just had the game of his life. Maybe it was necessary or maybe he was just playing to the crowd, but the 24-year-old guard had his right hand wrapped in ice. Was it there to reduce swelling? That’s possible. It’s also possible he was still on fire from his shooting performance earlier in the evening and didn’t want to set the locker room ablaze.  

While the Warriors were sending player after player to the table trying to slow the Cavaliers attack, Irving, joined by an incredible performance by James, were in survival mode. Trying to stay alive for one more game, they pounded Golden State in front of their home crowd.

“Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan, and as one of the leaders on the team, we just went out and executed,” James said. “You’ve got a guy like this (looking at Irving seated next to him) who is very special. It’s probably one of the greatest performances I’ve seen live.”

Irving was unstoppable for much of the night. Once he got it going, there was very little the Warriors could do to slow him down. He finished the night with 41 points on 17-of-24 shooting from the field and 5-for-7 from long range. He used a variety of moves to breakdown the Warriors defense and his bankshot in the key made him virtually unstoppable.

“He’s just that special kid that doesn’t know how good he can be,” veteran Richard Jefferson said. “Sometimes people are tough on him.”

No one was tough on Irving Monday at Oracle. Neither on the court or in the interview room. He was dominant on the game’s biggest stage.

"Kyrie was great tonight,” Klay Thompson said following the game. “He had my number. Nothing you can do. He was making tough shots."

With a ruckus crowd booing his every move, James matched Irving stride for stride. With Draymond Green serving a league mandated suspension, King James posted a 41-point, 16-rebound, 7-assist night in the win.

“Bron with just his steady rebounding, defense, attack, taking what they gave him - this was his probably most controlled game,” Jefferson said. “I’m not even talking about scoring, just taking what they were giving him, being aggressive when the opportunity arose, not really trying to press it.”

With his bull rush nearly unstoppable, the Warriors sagged off the former MVP. The superstar forward had been reluctant to hoist up perimeter shots all series long, but that wasn’t the case Monday night. Once he started launching and hitting from the top of the key, the game was all but over, especially without Green to slow him down.

“Well, he’s their best defender,” coach Tyronn Lue said of Green. “And I’ve said it all along that he is the best guy in the NBA as far as reading when to help, triple switches and kicking guys out of mismatches, knowing when to go, when not to go.”

One of the league’s best defenders, Green was forced to sit in the neighboring stadium watching from afar and praying his team could bring home the win in his absence so he could join the post game celebration. The call never came.

Coming into the night, James was averaging just under 25 points per game through the first four contest of the Finals. But without Green trolling the paint and with Irving running roughshod over the Warriors guards, he was able to explode for his first 40-point performance of this year’s playoffs and only his third 30-point effort in 19 postseason games.  

“You tip your hat to them,” reigning MVP Steph Curry said of the performance by Irving and James. “They had a great night, made some tough shots, made some open shots that we had miscommunication on. They did what they needed to do to help their team get a win.”

In the end, it was a two-man game for the Cavs. Their stars shined brightest in an enormous way and carried them back to Cleveland for a Game 6 on Thursday night, where Irving and James will likely need to perform in similar fashion.

“We’re not satisfied,” Irving said. “We understand the magnitude of what Game 6 means for us at home, and we know that it will be an incredible level that they’re going to play at, and we have to play at an even better level.”

It’s win and earn a trip back to Oakland for Game 7 on Sunday or lose and watch the Golden State Warriors celebrate on your home floor for the Cavs. If Cleveland can get another night like this out of their star players, we might have a epic finish to the 2016 NBA Finals.

Steph Curry hopes to change face of golf after revolutionizing basketball


Steph Curry hopes to change face of golf after revolutionizing basketball

SAN FRANCISCO – On a damp Monday morning, on a golf course a few inches east of the Pacific Ocean, Stephen Curry explains his desire to go where no man or woman has gone before.

To succeed where Tiger Woods, hindered by personal priorities, did not.

Curry is committed to making golf, despite its reputation as a refuge for the elite, accessible to all. To put a finer point on it, a basketball player wants to change the face of golf.

It’s a novel concept, that of an athlete – one of the greats in this instance – lifting his platform beyond the sport he identifies with and trying to make a tangible difference elsewhere. But Curry is not of a mind of waver. Even as he remains dedicated to remaining crucial to the fortunes of the Warriors, he is trying to speak his quest into existence while also financing it into reality.

“The game plan is forming as we go,” Curry said Monday. “But I just get so excited about the game that I hope other people will, too.”

Curry and scores of others were at TPC Harding Park for the inaugural Stephen Curry Charity Classic, presented by Workday. The goal of the event is to raise $1 million mostly for two causes: 1) PGA Reach, a charity with the stated purpose of increasing golf access to youth and military while also fostering diversity; and 2) Eat. Learn. Play., the foundation initiated by Curry and his wife, Ayesha.

The event carried enough weight to attract San Francisco Mayor London Breed, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – as well as former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and the team’s CEO, Joe Lacob.

Curry’s love for golf is on display every chance he gets. That’s not enough. Upon signing a five-year contract worth $201 million two summers ago, Curry vowed to invest in specific charities and causes. He has made golf one such beneficiary.

When it announced last month that Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., was resuming its golf program, which was disbanded in the 1970s, it simultaneously was announced that Curry was the man behind the game’s return. He’s making a seven-figure donation over the next six years.

“Basketball has been the best experience of my life in terms of (making) a career out of it, with all the things we’ve been able to do on the court,” Curry said. “But understanding how things I enjoy doing in life outside of basketball, growing the game of golf, there are a lot of different ways of going about that.

“But in terms of somebody outside the normal golf voice lending time and resources and opportunities to share how much the game means to me, the people you get to play with, the places it can take you, the things it teaches you about yourself. Reaching out to underrepresented communities and people that are just looking for access to the game, get them introduced to it early and, hopefully, through their competitive experience, if that’s what they want to do, provide opportunities for that.”

One of the constant themes in conversation with Curry is “growing the game.” And he’s not talking about basketball, which is immensely popular and is represented in some form, on every continent, by practically every racial and ethnic group. Golf, however, still is beyond the reach of many, partly for financial reasons and partly because it simply intimidates those unfamiliar with an environment that can feel quite exclusive.

“We’ve got four pillars: kids, veterans, inclusion and a place to play,” Waugh said. “We want to make a difference in all of that. Golf can be such an engine for good, and we are at the center of golf at every level, from the Ryder Cup to the PGA Championship. We have the opportunity to touch the most people. We want to shepherd that into those pillars, which are needed to evolve the game and make it more relevant to the next generation. We need to make it a game for our kid’s kids, as opposed to protecting a game that our parents or grandparents played.

“Our ability to do that, through making the game more welcoming and accessible and understandable – along with more fun – is what this is about. It can rehabilitate kids because this is a game that can be played for life.”

There was a time early in the millennium, when Tiger, with his brown face and dynamic game, was visualized as not only an ambassador but also the forerunner to many more that looked like him, even if they couldn’t play like him. He opened the door, so to speak, but made only occasional attempts to invite others behind him. The faces of golf haven’t changed much.

[RELATED: Check out Steph's new UA 'Range Unlimited' golf collection]

Nearly 20 years later, Curry is trying to fill that void. He’s going grassroots to expose the game to those who barely know it, if at all. He has made a difference on the basketball court, and now one of his missions is to do so on the golf course.

“There are different measures that you can think about, like getting more kids involved in the game early,” he says. “Or leveraging the traditional golf verticals that hopefully will get more kids competitive in the game. More representation at the early ages.

“From there ... this is a game for life. So, hopefully, my involvement in it will be for life.”

Warriors' Jordan Poole shoots his shot, asks Zendaya to go on date

Warriors' Jordan Poole shoots his shot, asks Zendaya to go on date

Jordan Poole is fearless, and we're not just talking about on the court. 

The Warriors rookie guard burst onto the scene during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament when he drilled a buzzer-beater to lead No. 3 Michigan past No. 6 Houston and into the Sweet 16.

"Swaggy Poole" as he was affectionately labeled after that moment, took another shot Monday.

Klay Thompson's girlfriend Laura Harrier posted a series of photos of the two on a date in London, drawing a comment from actress/singer Zendaya. Well, Poole saw her comment and thought he'd see if he still had the clutch touch.

Shooters shoot.

[RELATED: Poole, Paschall itching to being rookie season]

Even if Zendaya never gets back to Poole, at least he'll still have his two cats, so that's a win. 

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