Warriors

Kerr completely opposes Trump's ban: 'Could be breeding anger and terror'

Kerr completely opposes Trump's ban: 'Could be breeding anger and terror'

Steve Kerr spoke out again Sunday night. The basketball coach dived into the deep end of our current sociopolitical pool, where the waters are more treacherous than ever and where advances for decades, if not centuries, in the making are imperiled.

In so doing, Kerr erased the line written, in crayon, by a mob of narrow-minded souls congregating within their cave. The line reads: Stick to sports.

With the instability in the nation’s capital adversely affecting so many lives, in so many places, how does anyone in America with a conscience, no matter his occupation, ignore the world beyond?

Sports have been an integral part of America’s sociopolitical fabric for more than 100 years, no later than our participation in the modern Olympic Games in 1896. From Jack Johnson and Jim Thorpe, to Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson, to Bill Russell and Jim Brown, to Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Manute Bol, sport has been one of the first places we go to check our national temperature.

And, these days, we’re running a fever.

We’ve had consecutive weekends of national demonstrations, involving millions, over the direction in which we’re being taken. And just as sports figures like Aubrey Huff and Curt Schilling can voice their support of and belief to the current president, in the process castigating those who dare to question, so, too, can sports figures like David West and Kerr voice measured concern and dissent.

With President Trump signing an executive order designed to ban Muslims, with particular emphasis on seven countries, in the name of “keeping our country safe” from terrorists, professionals of all stripes are speaking up. We’re hearing from doctors and lawyers, soldiers and teachers, police officers and individuals roaming the halls of technology.

If you don’t know or care about someone feeling persecuted even more than before, well, you are in the cave.

On the subject of terrorism, Kerr has a particularly personal viewpoint. His father, Malcolm, was assassinated 33 years ago this month by two Islamic terrorists who charged into American University of Beirut, shot Kerr as he walked to his office -- he was president of the school -- and ran away.

“I would just say, as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way to go about it,” Kerr said after the Warriors-Trail Blazers game in Portland.

“If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. So I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I really feel for all of the people who are affected, families are being torn apart. And I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world. It’s going about it, completely opposite. You want to solve terror; you want to solve crime. It’s not the way to do it.”

Some will understand where Kerr is coming from on this and they’ll see the light he is trying to shine. Others will shrug and disagree, some politely and some abrasively.

Some might even summon the gall to suggest Kerr should stick to sports.

They’ll suggest the same to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s rhetoric and behavior. They’ll suggest it to those within the sports media who dare to express apprehension.

But sports and politics are linked not only because they sometimes share corridors of clout but also because they routinely cross paths. The Olympics serve as a showcase of national vigor and influence. Champions visit the White House. Numerous athletes, liberals and conservatives, have retired and entered politics.

Indeed, there are those who have and will continue to urge Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), a former tight end at Stanford, to pursue the White House in 2020.

Booker still loves sports, but he surely feels the national anxiety. And there he was on Sunday, at Dulles International Airport, just outside Washington, D.C., supporting and speaking out on behalf of those protesting Trump’s executive order.

If Cassius Clay had been a member of the “stick to sports” society, he would not have become Muhammad Ali, who stood on principle in the 1960s and waited patiently for the rest of society catch up to him.

Voices are needed, and now. This is the moment for the truly informed high-profile figures in sports to stand up and be heard. As for those not informed, do the research and wake up.

Educate yourself, or you risk staying in your cave when we need all the wisdom we can get.

Warriors consider lineup change vs. Clippers as they seek ruthlessness

Warriors consider lineup change vs. Clippers as they seek ruthlessness

OAKLAND – The Warriors wouldn’t ever acknowledge that they have reached the point of desperation in a first-round series. Too proud. Too accomplished.

But that’s where they are as they approach Game 6 against the Clippers, who have lost three of the first five games but never once shown any sign of surrender.

The Warriors are not necessarily desperate to win Game 6 because, should they lose, they still have Game 7.

They have to be desperate to reestablish the identity they have forged over the vast majority of Steve Kerr’s five-year run as head coach. Talented, skilled, smart, unified and ruthless.

They’re still talented and skilled. They’re generally smart. The unity has become uneven. That ruthless thing, however, has never been more elusive than this season – and it has carried over into the first five games of these playoffs.

So, on Thursday, before the team left Oakland for Los Angeles -- where Game 6 will be played on Friday -- Kerr uttered phrases that serve as euphemisms for desperation.

“Everything’s always on the table,” Kerr said. “Every playoff game, everything is always on the table. We consider everything. We go over every possibility. We hash it out. We ask the players their opinions on stuff and we make adjustments.

“That’s how the playoffs work.”

Kerr said the staff is evaluating rotations and units. Asked about a possible change in the starting lineup, he played coy.

“We could,” he said. “You never know.”

If there is a change, it will come at center. Andrew Bogut, who played so well in Games 3 and 4, struggled in the 129-121 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday. He had six points, five rebounds and two assists. He played 17 minutes and was minus-15 in the plus/minus.

Backup Kevon Looney was, by contrast, effective, as he has been for most of the series. Playing 22 minutes, he scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds, finishing a team-best plus-15.

But the issues with this team run deeper than can be solved with a single change. The Warriors have not been able to sustain the “killer instinct” required on championship teams. They’ve had it in the past, so it’s still somewhere within their collective DNA

They’re often playing it cool, even as LA is running hot. And they’re no more tired, at least physically, than the Clippers.

“I didn’t see fatigue (in Game 5),” Kerr said. “I just saw a lack of urgency, and you can’t win a playoff game without urgency. It’s not that easy.”

The first indicator of ruthlessness is effort. The Warriors brought it in Game 1 and for the better part of Game 2, before they completely and inexplicably lost it – and the game. They hit 10 on the ruthless meter in Game 3 and brought enough of it to squash a Clippers rally and prevail in Game 4.

It never appeared in Game 5.

“When we get a nice lead, we just tend to relax a little bit,” Kevin Durant said after Game 5, which the Warriors never led by more than four. “I’ve said it before, teams are looking for something just to get them back into the game.”

The Clippers didn’t so much as look for something in Game 5 as come and take it.

“More than anything, they played harder than we did,” Kerr said. “Schemes go out the window when a team plays harder than you. Schemes don’t matter unless you compete. I always say it, every year, that the first adjustment you have to make is to playing harder. And then you can get into switching rotations and matchups.

“In LA, we played really hard. In our last two home games, we let our guard down. The one thing you should know from watching the Clippers all years is that this is a competitive, fun team that enjoys playing together. They’re not going to go away. You’ve got to put them away by competing.”

[RELATED: Beverley's grit and hustle has Clips on Dubs' heels]

The Warriors in Game 5 met most of their offensive goals. They had 31 assists and eight turnovers. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant combined for 91 points on 49.1-percent shooting. They know they have the Curry/Durant pick-and-roll, and they’ll use it if a boost is needed. But the problem in Game 5, as well as the pivotal portion of Game 2, was an utter lack of defensive focus, execution and effort.

They fixed it last postseason and won a championship.

The Warriors know the formula. Desperate times in the NBA playoffs call for an inspired defense. Without it, even the Warriors are vulnerable.

Montrezl Harrell has message for Warriors after Clippers' Game 5 win

Montrezl Harrell has message for Warriors after Clippers' Game 5 win

The Los Angeles Clippers are feeling themselves, and for good reason.

Given zero chance to beat the Warriors heading into their first-round NBA playoff series, the Clippers have pushed the two-time defending champions to a Game 6 back in Los Angeles on Friday.

Down 3-1 in the series, most expected the Clippers to roll over Wednesday in Game 5. But Lou Williams dropped 33 points and Montrezl Harrell added 24 as the Clippers grabbed a 129-121 win.

After the victory, Harrell had a quick, NSFW message for the Dubs and he screamed it as he sprinted back to the locker room.

"Bring that ass back to LA" Harrell shouted, via The Undefeated's Marc Spears.

Careful what you wish for.

While the Warriors have admittedly been looking past the Clippers to a potential second-round date with the Warriors, the Dubs likely will be locked in Friday. Golden State was all the firepower needed to smolder the pesky Clippers, and the last thing they want is to have an unnecessary Game 7 because they were unfocused at the task at hand.

[RELATED: Lou Williams thinks Dubs made mistake by looking ahead to Rockets]

Harrell has been an issue for the Warriors all series, tormenting them in the pick-and-roll with Williams. His energy and ferocity have been unmatched by anyone on the Warriors, including Draymond Green. 

But with the Dubs having to bring their derrieres back to Southern California, we expect the Warriors' energy level will be a little different in Game 6.