Warriors

Jay Williams blames media speculation for Kevin Durant leaving Warriors

Jay Williams blames media speculation for Kevin Durant leaving Warriors

Buckle up folks. 

This is about to be a bumpy ride.

On Tuesday, an excerpt from Ethan Strauss' new book "The Victory Machine" led to quite the stir on social media. In case you missed it:

KD wasn’t impressed and accused me of trying to “rile up Steph’s fans.”

He expressed that this was a constant theme in the Bay. All of us local guys just wanted to kiss Steph’s a-- at his expense. This was KD’s consistent lament. He would frequently squabble in direct-message conversations with the Warriors fans of Twitter, frequently accusing them of favoring Steph at his expense.

So naturally, ESPN's morning show "First Take" discussed this topic Wednesday morning. And here is what Jay Williams -- who has spent a lot of time with Durant and works closely with him on ESPN's digital series "The Boardroom" -- had to say:

"As much as the media speculated about whose team it was -- we act like players don't listen to what we have to say. A lot of these players are fans -- they watch shows, things trickle into the locker room -- it creates awkward situations between players.

Things that people say. Bob Myers -- after they won a championship -- when he says, 'Stephen earned it, right?' And you saw Kevin give a weird reaction. Or if you ask Steve Kerr who's in control here and he's like, "I don't really know.'

"When people give you insight into those tidbits, those things then get blown up to a different degree that the media then speculates on. So I'll get back to my original point about this -- as far as Tim Cook can take Apple, Apple will always be Steve Jobs.

"And I think that a lot of fans saw that this will always be Stephen Curry's team, even though Kevin Durant got back-to-back [NBA Finals] MVPs and you know that he's the better player.

"So I think the media -- the more time (that goes by) -- as guys win and they win championships, the media, we're like, 'Well what else can we talk about? What else can we find to make this interesting? Oh, it seems like there are challenges.' 

"And I think those challenges naturally throughout the course of time -- that every team faces, but for teams that win at a high level -- get blown out of proportion. And I think we saw that trickle into the locker room and that led ultimately to this team separating.

"That's the realness and that's the fact of it."

Wait, wait, wait, wait. What?!

I don't even know where to begin.

It certainly sounds like Williams is saying that -- as a member of the media who constantly speculates -- he partially is responsible for KD leaving the Warriors. Let's remind everybody about what the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft said the morning after the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference finals:

I saw something last night -- and I'm not speaking for him (Durant) -- but for me, it kind of bothered me. Stephen Curry was on the free throw line (late in the third quarter) and granted Steph is an incredible player, he's MVP-caliber, two-time MVP. Take a listen to what the fans were cheering..."

The show then cut to a clip of the Oracle Arena crowd chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!"

And that bothered Williams?

"It's like, 'OK, could this ever really be my team?'" Williams answered. "I feel like if you're a basketball player, you know that's Kevin Durant's team. But from the outside looking in, fans still see it as Stephen's team. And I don't care what anybody says, that has to sit with you in some kind of form or capacity.

"He's back-to-back Finals MVP."

That take was ridiculous then and always will be. And even if we take Williams at his word that he wasn't speaking for the 10-time All-Star, then we at least can apply his logic and assume KD got wind of what he said and let it impact his perspective, right?

[RELATED: Swaggy P admits Durant would let the media get to him]

As Williams also said Wednesday morning: "So many people have agendas."

That is correct.

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How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

While the NBA is inching closer to resuming the 2019-20 season, Europe's top basketball league decided not to pursue the same avenue.

The EuroLeague announced Monday that it was canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Each EuroLeague team had played 28 of their 34 regular-season games.

Ordinarily, the EuroLeague ending its season wouldn't be news for the Warriors and their fans. But 2020 has been a completely different year for the Warriors. Mired in a 15-50 season, Golden State will have a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft.

That means 19-year-old Israeli prospect Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, is on the Warriors' radar. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported at the end of April that the Warriors have traveled to Europe to take a look at Avdija, who could be a top-five draft pick.

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

With the Warriors missing the playoffs this season, the team was going to use the unexpected free time in May to go scout prospects in Europe. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly was supposed to go watch Killian Hayes and Théo Maledon, while Kent Lacob, director of team development, was going to scout Avdija. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the Warriors to cancel those travel plans.

Due to travel restrictions, the Warriors likely wouldn't have been able to send anyone to watch Avdija play in the final six EuroLeague games had they been held, but they could have at least gotten more film on him. Now, they will have to form their opinion of Avdija with the in-person scouting they've already done and the film they have on hand.

In 21 games this season against Israel Basketball Super League competition, Avdija averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 7.0]

Avdija hasn't seen as much playing time in the EuroLeague, so his numbers aren't great. In 26 games against better competition, he's averaging 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.2 minutes.

We don't know when the NBA will hold the 2020 draft, but if the Warriors select Avdija, we'll know they saw enough of him before the coronavirus put a stop to basketball around the world.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

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

Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.