With the Warriors so far from the playoff race in February they needed a Hubble telescope to locate the No. 8 seed, they sent veterans Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the 76ers. Good for them. Gave the vets an opportunity to play in the postseason.
Except Alec and Glenn subtly let it be known they wanted to stay. Warriors general manager Bob Myers two weeks ago told Bay Area News Group that he was confused by this.
Maybe Myers, an acknowledged worrier, doesn’t fully grasp the appeal of the Warriors. Why would Burks and Robinson rather lose with the Warriors than chase a championship win with the Sixers? Other ex-Warriors, such as Quinn Cook, also can provide enlightenment.
“When Golden State calIed,” Cook recalled this week, “I told my agent, ‘I didn’t care if I never play. I don’t have to play. I just want to be a part of the organization. I want to learn every single day from those guys.’
“And not just because the Warriors had just won and had won two of the last three NBA Finals, and gone to three straight Finals. It wasn’t just that. It was just the people that were there.”
That was back in October 2017. Cook had done his homework on the Warriors. Checking in with Kevin Durant, a longtime friend, he received glowing reviews.
Cook signed a two-way contract, was rewarded with an official NBA contract six months later and went to consecutive NBA Finals, winning a ring in 2018.
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A part of him remains with the franchise, and always will.
“Just being there, it just meant a lot,” Cook said. “It just meant a lot, having relationships with those guys. It means the world to me because it was a true family. They accepted me and they accepted all the young guys who were new to the team, and they treated us like every other player, man. Just to have relationships with guys like that, to learn from guys like that, it means the world and it’s something I cherish to this day.”
There are reasons why so many former Warriors still come back. Baron Davis. Stephen Jackson. Festus Ezeli pops in. David Lee resurfaced, as did Jarrett Jack. Matt Barnes came back to play and earn a ring. Mike Dunleavy, hardly a fan favorite, returned to join the front office. Zaza Pachulia returned as a consultant and has settled in the Bay Area.
When Andrew Bogut rejoined the Warriors last year, he flat-out said he would not have considered signing with any other NBA team.
It’s all related to the players, led by Stephen Curry, Steve Kerr and his staff. They have generated a no-cliques culture that is warm and inclusive, inviting and accepting.
It appeals to veterans, such as Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Bogut. It appeals to youngsters, such as rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole and, before them, Ian Clark and Cook.
The notable exception over the past decade or so is Patrick McCaw, who has since acknowledged some regret about his departure.
“Vets accepted me,” Cook said. “Shaun and Andre and Zaza would tell me, every day, ‘Be a star in your role.’ I remember a couple times, especially in second year, Shaun and Andre would tell me ‘shoot the ball.’
“A lot of guys you hear about in the league, that they’re always selfish,” Cook added. “Or they only think about this. They don’t want to bring up the (younger) guy because it could affect playing minutes or money or whatever. Man, those dudes, Shaun and Andre, they wanted me to get 20 every night. It was, ‘Go shoot (with second unit).’ They would just lift my confidence every single day.”
This culture attracted Durant four years ago. It’s what the Warriors want to sell in hopes of persuading Giannis Antetokounmpo that his best future is not in Milwaukee but Golden State.
Burks and Robinson have indicated they’d like to return. With the league calendar, and lives around the globe, thrown into chaos by the coronavirus pandemic, there is no knowing what the Warriors will look like when the next season begins.
What the Warriors are, though, has been established.