Warriors

Steph Curry hopes to change face of golf after revolutionizing basketball

stephgolfap.jpg
AP

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 still searching for answers on defense after loss vs. Lakers

Warriors still searching for answers on defense after loss vs. Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Five seconds into the Warriors' 120-94 loss Wednesday night, Lakers forward LeBron James took one dribble and threw a crosscourt alley-oop pass to JaVale McGee, leading to Los Angeles' easiest bucket of the evening.

The play marked a familiar scenario for Golden State. In the last month, a once-dominant defense has descended to the league's worst unit. By the end of Wednesday evening, it added yet another lackluster performance to its résumé.

"We never had any traction in that game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "We had some spells where we made some good things happen offensively and maybe got a stop or two but every time it felt like we were right there we just couldn't get a stop."

Golden State's defensive lapses started early Wednesday evening at Staples Center. Through the first 12 minutes, Los Angeles shot 69 percent, including five 3-pointers. James scored 19 of his team-high 23 points in the first half, adding six rebounds as the Lakers scored 64 points in the paint.

Defensive lapses were all too common Wednesday evening. In the third quarter, James received an inbounds pass from guard Alex Caruso, drove baseline as Caruso screened both D'Angelo Russell and Glenn Robinson, leading to an easy pass to Dwight Howard for a wide-open dunk.

Throughout his tenure, Kerr's defensive philosophy required his team to get three straight stops at least once during a game. For the last five years, the strategy worked. The Warriors finished in the top 10 in defensive rating in four of the five seasons. Now, with Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant gone, and both Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney out of the lineup, the Warriors are giving up more than 120 points per game.

The defensive effort has gotten so bad that Kerr used Wednesday's shootaround -- usually reserved for light pregame preparation -- as an intense practice that mirrored his training camps of the past.

During the session, he put his team through a gauntlet of defensive drills in hopes they would spark an improvement. Adding to the conundrum is the face the Warriors aren't using one defensive method that made them one of the league's most vaunted defensive units.

"Most guys in general struggle with communication," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "It's kind of amplified when you're dealing with younger guys. You always wonder is the communication because you're not comfortable? Because you don't know. But half the battle is getting them to say something.

"If you can get people to say something," he added. "If it's the wrong thing, your teammates can react to the wrong thing and if you overwork the wrong thing it becomes right. The battle is to get everyone to communicate and that's an area we have to grow in."

[RELATED: Kerr losing patience, but Warriors see no alternative]

The Warriors' defensive troubles come as the team's health is in peril. Of the nine active players in the loss to the Lakers, just one was on the team's roster last season.

As Green walked out of Staples Center, the forward perfectly summed up the team's current state.

"I think we've improved but we've got a long ways to go," Green said. "A long ways to go."

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

LOS ANGELES – Steve Kerr spent a few minutes before tipoff Wednesday night musing about his predicament, which has transformed him into a coach Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, to name two former Warriors, would not recognize.

A coach with no choice but to tolerate the messes made by a roster heavy on youth and thinned by a slew of injuries.

“We’ve had anywhere from eight to 10 guys available each night,” Kerr said before a 120-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “There are nights where I would love to take someone out based on a mistake they made. But I can’t take them out.

“We don’t have that hammer, as a coaching staff, to be able to reward guys with playing time or penalize them by taking playing time away.”

So, the mistakes keep coming, with no real consequences for those who make them.

“We’ve already improved some,” Draymond Green said after the game. “But we’ve got a long way to go. A long way to go.”

The Warriors conducted defensive drills during their morning shootaround – something they haven’t done since 2014-15 – because the coaching staff feels a need to emphasize and reemphasize points that might keep them from remaining the worst defensive team in the NBA.

“It’s crazy,” Green said of the morning session. “It’s interesting. It’s different. But you’ve got to teach. The thing about the NBA is you don’t have a ton of practices. So, you have to kind of teach on the fly. I get it.”

Being spanked by a potent Lakers team won’t help their horrid numbers and will only provide more video to study in hopes of learning. LA shot 53.9 percent from the field, including 45 percent from beyond the arc. In the first half, when the game was being decided, those numbers were 63 percent and 50 percent.

“Defensively, we never really had any traction,” Kerr said afterward. “We had some spells where we made some good things happen offensively, maybe got a stop or two. But every time it felt like we were right there, we just couldn’t get a stop.

“It’s almost impossible to win in this league when you can’t count on getting three stops in a row at some point.”

These standards, set by the great Warriors teams of recent seasons, are new and daunting for rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, who previously would have been in sit-and-learn mode this season. In addition, the veterans new to the Warriors – Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III and D’Angelo Russell – are having their own difficulties.

There is no choice but to live with the turnovers (Russell had five), the late defensive rotations and offensive sequences destined for segments on Shaqtin’ A Fool.

The Warriors are, in short, "Mistakes R Us."

Green and the veteran coaches who over the last five seasons prodded and pushed in pursuit of perfection can only watch and sigh. And contain the frustrations while waiting for lessons to be absorbed.

Bell and Jones are gone largely because they came into circumstances wherein there was very low tolerance for errors, particularly mental errors. They were kids among champions, new to a franchise chasing history, and simply were unable to approach the ultra-high standards set by such players as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – as well as regal veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

So, when a youngster made a mistake in a game, Kerr was quick to summon a vet. He was coaching for wins, not growth. That was for practice.

Now, the focus is on growth with the faint hope it might lead to some victories. The Warriors are 2-10, with one proven scorer, Russell, and little reason to believe they can produce a startling turnaround.

“It’s understandable that we’re taking some licks, given the state of our team right now,” Kerr said. “But we have to learn from our mistakes. We’ve got to get better from game to game, especially defensively. It has to come.

“Not seeing it right now.”

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors losing streak hits five games]

It’s not visible. It’s not there. It should get better, simply because the labor is not being questioned.

Until then, there is nothing that can be done by Kerr or Green or any of the coaches, all of whom are accustomed to repairing strategic issues in a matter of minutes, and penalizing those who couldn’t keep up.