Warriors

Warriors almost boycott 2014 playoff game after Donald Sterling audio release

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AP

Warriors almost boycott 2014 playoff game after Donald Sterling audio release

The 2014 NBA playoffs left Adam Silver handling his toughest test as NBA commissioner just a few months into the job.

TMZ published a phone recording of Clippers owner Donald Sterling going on a racist rant to his mistress V. Stiviano. Sterling had been a black stain on the NBA for his entire history as Clippers owner, but the recording put Silver on the clock.

The players wanted Sterling thrown out of the league for good post-haste. 

While the Sterling tape was dominating the headlines, the Clippers and Warriors were locked in a hotly contested first-round playoff series. Ahead of Game 5 at Staples Center, Warriors general manager Bob Myers called team president Rick Welts to tell him the players were prepared to make a stand if Silver's punishment wasn't up to snuff. 

"These guys are going to walk off the floor,'" Welts recalled to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "He was with the team that morning and said the vibe around the team -- maybe both teams -- was that if this doesn't go the way the players want it to go that they could walk out on the floor and then walk right off and not play the game that night."

Former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was more than ready to take a stand if Silver lacked the conviction to do what was necessary.

"I was all-in. Like shut down the whole season," Iguodala said. "Maybe that was too far, but as far as that game that day, you can reschedule it, you gotta sort this thing out, because there's some deep-rooted stuff with him that had to be addressed."

Draymond Green told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock that the boycott was a full-go. 

"I remember everybody talking like if Adam Silver don't come down with a tough enough post and we don't think it's right, we're not playing tonight," Green said.

Had the Clippers and Warriors elected not to play Game 5, it's a moment that would have gone down as one of the most important and momentous acts in sports history and in the overall arc of the fight for social justice and equality in America.

"If we didn't play," former Clipper Jamal Crawford said, "I think that honestly it would have outlived us. They would be talking about that while we're not here anymore.

"It's never happened. At that magnitude, at that level."

[RELATED: Dubs of East? Hawks building something with young core]

The stand, as you know, was not needed.

Silver stood in front of the world and banned Sterling from the NBA for life, leading to him selling the team to Steve Ballmer.

The Clippers went on to win the series in seven games.

Facing Zion Williamson shows Warriors fans how quick fortunes can change

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USATSI

Facing Zion Williamson shows Warriors fans how quick fortunes can change

SAN FRANCISCO – With the Warriors hugging the floor of the NBA and lining up a top-three pick in the draft lottery, Sunday afternoon brings an opportunity for them and their fans to share a flight of fantasy.

To spend a couple hours away from this abysmal season and allow their hearts and minds to drift off to the May 19 lottery in Chicago and the next 10 or so years.

The potential effect of the lottery will, after all, be right before their eyes.

When Zion Williamson bounds onto the floor at Chase Center, he will command immediate and constant attention from the Warriors. The No. 1 pick of the 2019 draft arrived in New Orleans as the latest reminder that sometimes all it takes is one pick to profoundly impact a franchise and even the entire league.

While Williamson missed the first half of the season while recuperating from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the NBA wrapped its marketing wing in a Lakers flag, promoting every move LeBron James made or thought about making.

With Zion on the sideline, the Pelicans were 17-27. They’re 7-5 since his spectacular debut on Jan. 22.

“I’m just glad for him and for New Orleans that he’s healthy and playing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Saturday. ‘It’s great for the league. And, obviously, they’re playing good basketball right now.”

Understand, the 2020 draft does not offer a Zion, who, like LeBron James 16 years earlier, entered the league on a stream of breathless hype that seemed mythical.

Impact players will be available, though, and any of them likely would benefit from joining the Warriors and playing alongside the likes of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins.

Whereas Zion is considered the savior in New Orleans, much as LeBron was in Cleveland, the Warriors are not in need of such a dramatic entrance. They are, however, seeking someone capable of exciting them and their fans.

And, moreover, being a part of the core that takes the franchise through the new decade.

It could be James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 center/forward with the 7-5 wingspan who spent a couple hours at the University of Memphis and is drawing comparisons to Anthony Davis.

Or maybe it’s Anthony Edwards, the 6-5 guard from Georgia who has the physique and skills to become a 21st century Mitch Richmond.

A couple others are particularly intriguing: Onyeka Okongwu, a high-energy 6-9 power forward from USC, and Isaac Okoro, a 6-6, 225-pound wing who is a solid scorer and can defend at least three positions.

But here is one definitely worth remembering: Dayton’s Obi Toppin. A 6-9 power forward with a smooth and refined offensive game, he’s picking up front-office admirers and rising fast. The Warriors have spent considerable time evaluating him.

With lottery picks in the next two drafts, the Warriors have negotiated their way into position to select foundational players for their future. Thompson turned 30 this month. Green turns 30 next month, 10 days before Curry turns 32. They’re going to need an infusion of youth, and next season is a good time to start grooming them.

The desire to add Giannis Antetokounmpo notwithstanding, the Warriors also need someone who can fire up the fan base.

New Orleans has its guy. Zion’s presence has electrified a historically sluggish Pelicans fan base and captured the attention of the NBA. He’s featured in TV promotions. He’s being interviewed on the court after games. He’s captivating audiences at every stop the Pelicans make.

[RELATED: Toscano-Anderson looks to inspire Mexican NBA fans]

Zion plays with Curry’s joy and Green’s ferocity, and with a bounce that can hold up against that of Orlando Magic star Aaron Gordon.

“He’s just an incredible athlete,” Kerr said of Williamson. “It’s pretty rare that you see a guy come into the league and just jump off the screen athletically. In the NBA, almost everybody out there is an incredible athlete. Zion stands above the crowd, literally and figuratively.”

Well, not exactly. He’s 6-6, the same height as Draymond. But that hasn’t stopped Zion from being what every franchise yearns for in its efforts to satisfy all five levels: ownership, personnel, coaching staff, teammates and fans.

When the Warriors take the floor Sunday, they’ll be burdened with a 12-44 record. Ignore it. Consider it an investment. Focus instead on the future, beginning with those ping-pong balls on May 19.

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks to inspire young Mexican NBA fans

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks to inspire young Mexican NBA fans

Over the NBA All-Star break, Juan Toscano-Anderson held a basketball clinic at an elementary school in Monterrey, Mexico. The kids knew his story -- he played in Monterrey. Then he earned a chance in the G League. Now, he’s one of the only Mexican-American athletes to ever reach the NBA. 

The kids mobbed Toscano-Anderson, peppering him with questions. “Do you know Steph Curry?” they exclaimed. Juan said yes, he plays alongside a star he grew up watching in his hometown of Oakland. 

As he looked at their faces, Juan felt a determination to be someone they could look up to. 

“They have a piece of them in the NBA now, someone they can root for,” Toscano-Anderson said to NBC Sports Bay Area during the Warriors' recent road trip. “I’m very appreciative of the people, the league and everyone who has helped me. They helped me revive my career in a sense. I didn’t know what I was going to do after college. I went down there and made a new name for myself.”

Juan didn’t anticipate playing basketball in Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional -- one season with Soles de Mexicali, two seasons with Fuerza Regia de Monterrey -- would be a formative part of his career. He didn’t expect basketball to come into his life at all. He said his household was “soccer, soccer, soccer.”

Juan’s third grade teacher, Wilhelmina Attles, wife of Warriors legend Al Attles, set him up at a basketball camp. He loved it. Juan went home and declared to his family he was giving up soccer. He honed his skills at Oakland rec centers and the Boys & Girls Club. 

Juan played high school basketball at Castro Valley High School, and four seasons at Marquette University. He remembers injuries and frustration. “No offers, no agents, no workouts. Can you imagine all your life you’ve been working for this point and then it ends?” 

Friends suggested playing Europe, but Juan didn’t feel like he could get a deal in Europe worth the move. 

“I didn’t have anything close to a good college career,” Juan said. “Mexico ... the league there? People didn’t even know about it. It doesn’t get any respect around the world.”

Juan took a chance. His seasons in Liga Nacional fulfilled him deeply. He discovered a fan base open to basketball, ready to take cues from the NBA’s culture of exciting play, personalities, shoes and music. On a scale of one to ten, Juan believes Mexico’s interest in the game is a four but growing. 

“I want to be a cornerstone for what it will become,” he said.

Juan’s time in Mexico taught him if he wants to play a role in growing the sport, he needs to immerse himself in the language. 

“I grew up in a Latino household,” he explained. “All Mexicans in my house. We ate Mexican food, it was all Mexican culture, holidays. My mom speaks English 90 percent of the time. Sometimes she’ll yell at us in Spanish. But we grew up in my grandpa’s house. My grandpa speaks all Spanish. All my life I’ve understood Spanish but I didn’t start speaking it until I moved to Mexico.” 

Juan said he was constantly practicing the language so he could connect with people and be in control of his own story. “No middlemen,” he said, and estimates he’s about 85 to 90 percent fluent. 

“People appreciate the effort and they’re accepting me as their own," Juan says. "It’s gratifying to see people embrace me.”

[RELATED: Toscano-Anderson remembers one thing from Warriors camp as kid]

Any conversation with Juan contains moments when he states, “I shouldn’t be here.” He gets goosebumps thinking about what he wants to do with his NBA opportunity. His first priority is to continue to maintain his place with the Warriors. Then, as he daydreams about the future, Juan said his mind goes to Mexico.

“When I’m done here, I’ll always have a home there,” Juan said.

He considers the options with a sense of responsibility. 

“As a player, as a coach ... one day I want to buy a franchise down there. I want to give them ten times what they’ve given me."