Warriors

Warriors meet in hopes of regaining chemistry that has made them great

Warriors meet in hopes of regaining chemistry that has made them great

OAKLAND — After their third defeat in four games, each with a similar pattern, the Warriors convened Wednesday for what might reasonably be considered an emergency session.

The defending champs are in peril, and they know it.

The popular choice to win a third consecutive NBA Finals, the Warriors are playing a lot of bad basketball, as their fabled team culture faces its toughest challenge since Steve Kerr took over as coach in May 2014.

An open forum seemed like a good idea. And, according to Draymond Green, the dialogue was widespread.

“A lot of people spoke up,” Green said. “Which was good.”

The Warriors have plenty of air to clear, so why not get started after a 33-point loss at Oracle Arena — their worst home loss in nearly 400 games under Kerr?

“We sucked,” Green said of the 128-95 loss to the Boston Celtics. “We got embarrassed.”

As accurate as Green’s statement is, it merely stamps the surface of the issue. There is a very different overall team chemistry from the previous four seasons. Those Warriors were together in ways that transcended the court. These Warriors are not.

Asked about the vibe of the team, Green took a lengthy pause before replying.

“I don’t see a problem with the vibe of the team,” he said, quickly moving off the subject.

Green doesn’t miss much. But he’s not seeing — or not sharing — what’s evident.

The Warriors are less than the sum of their parts, and the reasons behind it are varied. There is little doubt some of it is related to the state of Kevin Durant, who has been far more sullen and contentious this season than he was in his first two as a Warrior. And more sullen and contentious over the past two months than he was in October.

There is general belief within the organization that this is Durant’s last season as a Warrior. The team is bracing for his departure, which need not affect this season.

But Durant has been less engaged than he was in either of his first two seasons with the team. He continues to put in work and produce, but his body language often is not as positive as that of his teammates. He also has become more isolated.

Furthermore, there have been clear indications of at least a modicum of discord between Durant and Kerr, the latest coming Tuesday when Durant expressed bewilderment over what exactly the coach wants from his players.

Joy? Anger? Which is it?

The Warriors lately haven’t had much of either. They have been too passive for too many stretches of games and, of course, losing yanks the joy from any team with aspirations.

“Coming off a loss like last night forces you to take a look in the mirror, whether you’re a coach or a player or anything within the organization,” Kerr said. “We all have to look at ourselves. I definitely did that last night and didn’t like what I saw in terms of my own coaching job.

“So we came in, had a good film session, we talked about our flaws and where we need to get better. And we had a good practice.”

The hope is that good practice habits lead to better game habits, which might result in winning, which should improve overall team spirit. It has to start somewhere, and an effort to ensure players and coaches are in sync is Step One.

“As far as (Kerr) getting us ready, there’s more that he can do,” Green said. “There’s always more than he can do. There’s always more our entire coaching staff can do.

“On the flip side of that, there is way more that we can do as players. They can do all that they can do, and if we come out lacking energy and dead like we did last night, it’s not going to matter.”

[RELATED: Dubs 'excited' to add Bogut as 'insurance policy' up front]

Both Green and Kerr vocalized a need for greater intensity, particularly early in games. The Warriors have fallen behind by considerable margin in the first quarter of their last four losses. That’s usually indicative of players being unprepared and uninterested or, maybe, a combination of the two.

“We can use the old cliché line: ‘Every time we step on the floor, we want to get better,’ “ Green said. “But we didn’t do that last year, and we still ran through the playoffs. So it’s easy to take that mindset again.

“I don’t want to live on the edge like that. And, hopefully, the switch flips on.”

Eighteen regular-season games remain for the Warriors to solve the internal unrest, pull out of this depression and look like their championship-level selves again. Can they?

We’ll know it when he we see it.

Stephen Jackson reveals Baron Davis gave him best compliment of life

Stephen Jackson reveals Baron Davis gave him best compliment of life

Programming note: Watch all four of the "We Believe" Warriors' wins over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

In Game 6 of the "We Believe" Warriors' series-clinching victory over the Dallas Mavericks in 2007, Stephen Jackson scored a playoff career-high 33 points.

"I remember BD (Baron Davis) coming to me before the game and telling me, 'Jack, I ain't got it. I ain't got it, Jack. My legs, my knees, my back. I just ain't got it,'" Jackson recently told Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. "I'm like, 'Cool. I'll do what I gotta do.' I was locked in to play well."

Perhaps Davis just was trying to motivate his teammate, because BD recorded 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists that night. He clearly had some left in the tank.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But that's beside the point. You're reading this because of something else Jackson revealed to Fitzgerald.

"Two days later, I'm watching the game and I'm seeing the TV feed. They're interviewing BD after the game on the court, and she (the sideline reporter) asked him something about my play," the 2003 NBA champion explained. "And BD said -- this probably is the best compliment I've ever got from a brother and also a basketball player in my life -- I'm getting kind of emotional saying it ... BD said, 'A lot of people say a lot of stuff about Stephen Jackson, but they'll never admit he's a great basketball player.'

"That meant the world to me. That moment, I felt like everything had completely lifted off my shoulders."

[RELATED: Barnes reveals 'We Believe' Warriors documentary in works]

Remember, Jackson's image had been tarnished because of his role in the brawl that took place a couple years prior between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons -- aka the "Malice at the Palace."

And while some NBA fans forever will think of that unfortunate fight first when Jackson's name is mentioned, that won't be the case for the majority of Warriors fans because Dub Nation immediately will point to Jackson's contributions in upsetting the No. 1 seed Mavs.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death

currykerrusa.jpg
USATSI

Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death

Face pressed to the street and eyes wide with panic, George Floyd was in handcuffs and begging for mercy. He feared he might die. His only hope was appealing to the humanity of the man threatening his life.

Humanity was denied by Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer whose left knee was resting on Floyd’s neck.

Even with cell phones recording video, Chauvin didn’t flinch. He didn’t back off until Floyd’s pleas went silent and he was unconscious. Moments later, he was dead.

Floyd had been subdued. Was not a threat. Yet he was subjected to further violence. So brazenly egregious was the brutality that visibly shaken Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey needed only a few hours to oversee the dismissal of Chauvin and three complicit officers.

The video is a graphic illustration of police terror in plain sight. It’s an example of the behavior that inspired former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel in peaceful protest. If the reaction of high-profile sports figures is any indication at all, Floyd’s death could prompt high-profile dissent to become louder and more visible.

Consider this Instagram post from Warriors superstar Steph Curry.

“If this image doesn’t disturb you and piss you off, then [I don’t know]," Curry wrote. "I’ve seen a lot of people speak up and try to articulate how fed up and angry they are. All good and well, but it’s the same same same reality we live in. George Floyd. George Floyd. George has a family. George didn’t deserve to die. George pleaded for help and was just straight up ignored, which speaks loud and clear that his black life didn’t matter. George was murdered. George wasn’t human to that cop that slowly and purposefully took his life away."

Curry’s former Warriors teammate, Matt Barnes, replied on IG, saying, “Haven’t seen it said any better than my lil bro put it!!”

The Floyd tragedy, coming three weeks after the release of incriminating video of the vigilante shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, is but the latest reminder of America’s inability to forcefully and effectively address systemic racism.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, upon seeing the video, offered a response with broad implications on Twitter.

Us. As in those of us who condone such conduct. As in those of us in positions of authority, such as President Donald Trump. There is zero chance of reducing state-sanctioned murder without cooperation from those of us within in a power structure dominated by white men.

“This goes to something very deep in our nation’s soul,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “There’s definitely a responsibility of white people to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’ But we also have a responsibility in this country to reconcile our sins. That needs to happen.

“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘What are you complaining about? Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.’ They’re missing the point. We haven’t come to grips with it. If we had, we wouldn’t still see Confederate flags flying around, whether it’s at courthouses or at Trump rallies. I know some of those have been taken down over the past few years, but I feel there’s never truly been reconciliation with the sins of our past.”

Any decent history book reveals the United States was built on violence and suppression. Native Americans were massacred, their land seized. Slaves, most brought over from Africa, were treated as property to be punished or killed without a blink.

More than 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, blatant racial discrimination, most often symbolized by Jim Crow laws, still was the norm in the United States. Now, 56 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, racism continues. In three-plus years under Trump, there has been a resurgence in demonstrations of outright bigotry.

“I wish we had more outrage from the top,” Kerr said. “But it seems like it’s just the citizens who are expressing the most frustration.”

[RELATED: Stephen Jackson emotional over his friend's death in police custody]

The highest offices in the land have exhibited no sustained, committed desire to take healing action. But some of the citizens, black and white, have a voice that carries further than others. And they are expressing outrage at the consistency of such incidents.

Curry and Kerr are repulsed that such a small privilege as life, much less liberty, still can be revoked based on skin color. So are Stephen Jackson and Kyle Korver. So are LeBron James and retired NFL star Chris Long and former WNBA star Lisa Leslie. They all see what Kaepernick saw.

In the end, Americans of every stripe must ask themselves a simple question: How much more barbarism are we willing to tolerate?