Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Warriors continue to thrive in their second calling

Programming note: Warriors-76ers coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Credit must be given to the Golden State Warriors for keeping the brand alive on multiple platforms – to the point where they are now indirectly and barely tangentially linked to the Great Oscars Envelope Piefight.

Stay with us here. We’ll get to it.

The mundane matter of winning has, as expected, taken care of itself. They’ve clinched a playoff berth earlier than any other team, at least in the 16-team playoff era, they’ve hit their full stride with the Kevin Durant trade, they’re nervously navigating the Draymond Green Cavalcade of Technical Fouls, and they have led their supporters into the same old trap of thinking that regular season success is the same as postseason invulnerability.

In that way, they are much as they were a year ago, and the year before that.

But it is their underrated ability to find ancillary links to the world outside the NBA that makes them more than merely, say, the 1983 Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ 76ers.

Steve Kerr has been a political and social critic, and more than once – meaning that he hasn’t stumbled into discussions about the political state of the nation as much as he has leaped into them eyes wide open and feet fireproofed. He has not been tricked into a comment, ever. He says what he wants, and is in that way the management equivalent of . . .

. . . Green, who is more often than not the de facto team spokesman, Pushback Division, in that he will speak to anyone on any subject at any time. He is in many ways the Swiss Army Knife of sound bites, and when he decides to err on the side of volubility does not mind taking on opponents, strangers, his coach and, occasionally even teammates. He is a walking debate about temper management that is either 1 or 1-A to DeMarcus Cousins.

Durant and Russell Westbrook have, less voluntarily, been the subjects of a semi-philosophical debate about loyalty vs. business vs. opportunity vs. abandonment. Much of it has been driven not by them but by us, but we let go of cheap and easy narratives with the same willingness that Rottweilers demonstrate with a burglar’s femur.

JaVale McGee, the backup center, has just now engaged with some force with megabus/provocateur Shaquille O’Neal over O’Neal’s intermittent needling of McGee that finally hit the red, resulting in a unilateral cease-fire imposed by O’Neal’s mother Lucille that has not yet been agreed to by McGee’s mother Pamela. In other words, this is a family thing, with all the landmined dynamics that implies – a sure-fire talker both for those who like their debates either trivialized or broadened to take on larger social themes.

And the Oscars? Well, Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali is a self-admitted huge fan of The Bridge, having grown up in the area, played at Mount Eden High and Saint Mary’s on a ball scholarship, and now he is part of the best Oscars story that doesn’t involve movie junkies since Sacheen Littlefeather rejected Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf. That the Warriors weren’t wearing black armbands Monday night in Philadelphia to protest the envelope screwup is a missed opportunity that only having Ali courtside amid Joe Lacob, Pete Guber, Phil Hellmuth and Beyonce for Game 2 against Denver in April can remedy.

In other words, cue the marketing department.

Next to all this, the arcane notion of the Warriors clinching a playoff spot and being on pace to having the largest margin between conference winner and ninth-place team since Boston (67-15) whipped Cleveland (29-53) in 1986 by a smooth 38 games means – well, next to nothing. Especially since we now know, or should know, that nothing happens until June says it happens.

And if the Warriors are the brand name they occasionally claim to be by being more than just a superb basketball team, they will remain abreast of all social and cultural trends, fitting them as best they can between the 21 remaining off-days as best they can.

It is apparently their second calling – to be small but available thermometers for any subject you’ve got, from the changing nature of basketball to the coming civil war to the death of the sun. It’s a good thing they’ve taken care of the playoff thing; otherwise, there’d be no getting them to maintain focus.

Steph Curry breaking records, setting milestones routine for Warriors star

Steph Curry breaking records, setting milestones routine for Warriors star

Stephen Curry broke a couple NBA records Tuesday night and the world shrugged, perhaps because both were his own.

Or maybe because it’s just so . . . common. We’ve come to expect Curry to reach heights never known to anyone, man or woman or robot, who has played professional basketball.

When the Warriors closed their four-game road trip with a win at Minnesota and a 3-1 record against competition that included three teams destined for the playoffs, they had many other reasons for joy during their return flight to Oakland. There was, among other things, the 3-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio, the 45.2-percent shooting from beyond the arc, the four blocks by Draymond Green and the rediscovery of Jonas Jerebko.

Meanwhile, Curry was being Curry, providing more numbers and records to chew on.

He was zooming past a milestone for 3-pointers made in the season, this being his third season with at least 300, an NBA record. The previous record was, of course, Curry’s two seasons.

Curry got to 303 by burning the Timberwolves with 8-of-14 shooting from deep, giving him 46 games with at least eight triples. That, too, is a record that already belonged to him. For what it’s worth, no one else has more than 14 such games.

Curry has drained at least 10 3-pointers in a game 14 times. No. 2 on this list is his teammate, Klay Thompson, with five. JR Smith, most recently with the Cavaliers, has three and likely will retire with that. Nobody else, according to basketball-reference.com, has more than one.

Curry this season has moved up from ninth place to third on the all-time list of 3-pointers made. With 2,432, he needs 129 to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) and move into second place. Miller’s last NBA game came three months before he turned 40.

Health permitting, Steph will fly past Reggie some time next November.

No. 1 on the all-time list is Ray Allen (2,973), whose final NBA game came five weeks before his 39th birthday.

Uh, Curry is 31, meaning it’s conceivable he’ll be 32 when he passes Ray.

Any time an athlete is setting a career record while still in his prime, it’s barely comprehensible. Shooters tend to have longer careers than most, as illustrated by the longevity of Miller and Allen. As silly as it seems, Curry could play another seven years, meaning 5,000 3-pointers is not out of the question.

Curry is stretching the floor like no one ever has. He’s comfortable firing from 40 feet and thinks nothing of pulling up from beyond 30. Allen and Miller almost never did that. Now, however, Portland’s Damian Lillard is following Curry’s lead. And here comes Atlanta’s Trae Young.

Remember Mark Jackson’s words regarding Stephen Curry? The former Warriors coach said Curry “is ruining the game.” Some took it literally, as if Curry and his frequent 3-point shooting were somehow bastardizing basketball. That wasn’t what Jackson meant.

"When Mark Jackson said he was ruining the game, I know a lot of people took that personal," Kevin Durant said in January. "But I kind of got it a little bit, because he's the only person I've ever seen that can shoot those shots in rhythm like that and make them. And now everybody else think they can.

"And you can't.”

Curry is that exceedingly rare individual whose greatness is surpassed by his influence. Unlike the 6-foot-6 Michael Jordan, whose soaring dunks were restricted to the dreams of all but a few athletes, the sight of Curry, at 6-3, jacking up shots from another area code is just tantalizing enough that some think they can get there with enough practice.

Folks knew they could never do what Michael did. Many believe they can do what Steph does.

“And that's why I shake my head, because once in a generation, once in a lifetime type of talent and movement,” Durant said. “(Curry’s) movements out there are just so smooth, it makes it look so easy. So when he's knocking down those shots, it's just a joy to see."

[RELATED: Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo]

To put Curry’s assault on the record books into context, we have to go to its oldest pages, those containing sports records likely to stand as long as mankind survives. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and 50.4-point average over a full season. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive baseball games. Cy Young’s 511 pitching wins and 749 complete games. Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases. Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 points. Richard Petty’s 200 NASCAR wins.

Even the true believers, like Don Nelson, who quickly envisioned Curry as a superstar, could not have imagined that each time he steps onto the floor he would represent a threat to a record.

Best not take it for granted. And if you already are, you’re missing a show worthy of savoring.

Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo

Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo

This is too easy for Steph Curry. While you might have grown up heaving half-court shots, the two-time NBA MVP has made this his layup line. 

Before the Warriors' 117-107 win over the Timberwolves, he was back at it again. Watch Curry nailed four straight from the T-Wolves' half-court logo like it's nothing. 

Steph brought that same stroke from deep into the game, too. He scored a game-high 36 points and made eight of his 14 3-point shot attempts. 

And the eight 3-pointers are nothing compared to the milestone Curry hit from beyond the arc. For the third time in his NBA career, he has now made at least 300 3-pointers in a season.

[RELATED: Warriors find rhythm on road trip with NBA playoffs’ top seed in reach]

Curry has now made 303 3-pointers this season while shooting 42.9 percent from downtown.