Warriors, Sharks have best odds to stop 'Boston Slam,' and here's why


Warriors, Sharks have best odds to stop 'Boston Slam,' and here's why

The Red Sox won the World Series title in October, and the Patriots claimed another Super Bowl championship in February. If Boston sports fans had their way — and they often do these days — they’ll roll out the duck boats for the Celtics and the Bruins in June.

They’re calling it the Boston Slam, since Boston would own all four major professional sports titles at once.

And only the Bay Area likely can stop it.

Boston has been on an incredible run since 2001, winning six Super Bowls, four World Series, one Stanley Cup and one NBA championship. Such dominance breeds contempt, although you’ll find none here. I lived in Boston for five years and loved every minute of it. Well, maybe I could’ve have gone without all the snow.

Dominance also breeds arrogance, and that too is on display in some corners of Boston. Winning championships went from a dream to a birthright in only one generation, and as haters began to, well, hate, Bostonians adopted this mantra: “Hate Us 'Cause You Ain’t Us.” The fighting revolutionary spirit is alive and well in New England.

While we don’t hate many folks in Northern California — we’re way too laid back for that — we do know something about winning titles, particularly with the Warriors. And that’s where the prospect of stopping this Boston Slam attempt begins.

The Warriors, who are one blown 3-1 NBA Finals lead away from chasing a fourth consecutive Larry O’Brien Trophy, could be considered the Patriots of the Association. Perennial champs accused of gaming the system. The game circled on every opponent’s calendar. The No. 1 topic on the morning sports scream-fests.

A Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals has been forecast for a few years, and while it could happen now, there are notable obstacles. First, the Warriors need to take care of business in their first-round playoff series after the Clippers forced a Game 6 by virtue of a 129-121 win Wednesday night. Then, the Rockets, who will challenge the Warriors in the next playoff round if the defending champs indeed advance, definitely will not be an easy out. They had Golden State on the ropes last season but couldn't deliver the knockout blow.

The Celtics, meanwhile, finished fourth in the Eastern Conference this season, and must beat the Milwaukee Bucks, then either the Toronto Raptors or the Philadelphia 76ers, to even make the Finals. All three of those teams had better regular-season records than Boston, but the Celtics often show flashes of greatness and might have unmatched top-tier depth, with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford.

That lineup is fully capable of reaching the Finals and giving the Warriors all they can handle, as was the case in their two regular-season meetings. The 33-point loss last month at Oracle Arena was particularly brutal for the Dubs, but the playoffs typically are their time. They know what it takes to win, no matter the foe, their recent wobbles against the Clippers notwithstanding. The Celtics certainly won’t scare the Warriors when championship glory is on the line.

On the ice, the Bruins’ path to the Cup Final seems clear, with top Eastern Conference contenders such as the Lightning, Capitals and Penguins all falling in the first round. Possibly meeting the Bruins at the end are the Sharks, who similarly don’t have to worry about top contenders in the West, with the Flames, Predators and Jets already out, meaning San Jose could be the West’s best left standing.

A Sharks-Bruins Cup Final would be full of firepower (San Jose rolls out four 30-goal scorers, and Boston boasts three) and shaky goaltending (Boston fans feel the same way about Tuukka Rask as San Jose backers do Martin Jones).

And if you thought Ryan Reaves was annoying, you haven’t seen Brad Marchand, who led the Bruins in regular-season scoring (100 points) and penalty minutes (98), highlighting his balance of skill and ability to irritate his opponents. His run-ins with equally hot-tempered Evander Kane could be legendary.

The Sharks, riding high from their Game 7 miracle against Vegas, do possess the veteran savvy and attitude to challenge an Original Six power in their barn. Joe Thornton, the former Bruin, can tell his Sharks teammates all about that, as could Erik Karlsson, who faced Boston in the 2017 playoffs with the Ottawa Senators. The task isn’t easy, but it's doable.

The Boston Slam would be an incredible feat, but it’s also one that some sports fans don’t want to see. The root of that sentiment is the same childhood-type jealousy directed toward the kid who has too many toys, just that in this case, the toys are big, shiny trophies that grown men desire. You can see lots of that championship hardware at Fenway, Gillette and the Garden. To be fair, you also can see lots of them at Oracle Arena, Oracle Park, Levi's and the Coliseum, too.

No honest Bostonian could’ve imagined this possibility when Bucky Dent hammered that ball over the Green Monster. Or when Bill Buckner let that ground ball go through his legs. Or when Jim McMahon and The Fridge made a mockery of the Patriots’ defense in Super Bowl XX. Or when the Celtics lost out on Tim Duncan in the NBA lottery.

Or when, in June 2001, the city of Boston threw a Stanley Cup championship rally for Ray Bourque. He had lifted the storied trophy with the Colorado Avalanche, not the Bruins, who at that time hadn't won a title in 29 years.

On its face, throwing a championship celebration for another team's player sounds sad. But it wasn't. Sports is in Boston's blood, and Bourque, a beloved Bruin, had waited longer than any Cup-winning player -- 1,612 regular-season and 214 playoff games, to be exact. He had done right by the Bruins, who traded him to a Cup contender in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. The fans wanted Bourque to be a winner.

[RELATED: Great comebacks for each Bay Area sports team]

Not that they were happy about it, though.

"The Red Sox will probably win a World Series before the Bruins win a Cup," fan Mike Moreira told the Hartford Courant during Bourque's rally. "That's how bad it is."

Those words were prophetic: The Red Sox actually won two World Series (in 2004 and 2007) before the Bruins claimed the Cup. They also reflected the time: No Boston team had won a championship since the Celtics did it in 1986.

A 15-year title drought? Seems impossible these days.

So, it hasn’t always been halcyon days for Boston sports fans. These days, though, to beat Boston is to innovate. And no ones does that better than the Bay.

How John Stockton ruined Steve Kerr's chances of going to Gonzaga

How John Stockton ruined Steve Kerr's chances of going to Gonzaga

Warriors coach Steve Kerr played his college ball at the University of Arizona.

Why didn't the eight-time NBA champion go to Gonzaga instead?

Well, there's a hilarious story that provides the answer. Kerr recently was a guest on the "Scorebook Live Today" podcast with former Gonzaga guard Dan Dickau, and shared the details.

"So they were recruiting me my senior year. And I didn’t have any offers in the middle of my senior year, but I was getting some interest," Kerr explained. "Gonzaga sent me a letter, made a couple calls and they said, ‘Hey, we want you to come on a visit when the season’s over.’ And I said, 'Great.' I was excited. It was my first visit anywhere.

"They said, ‘Just bring your stuff -- you can play when you’re up here.’ I said, 'Perfect.' And I go up and see the campus, see the locker room, meet the coaches -- all that stuff. And they said, ‘Hey, our guys are going to play pickup. You should go join them.’ I said, 'Perfect.'

"Put my shoes on. I joined the pickup game. And I’m being guarded by a guy named John Stockton (laughter). He had just finished his senior season. He was getting ready for the draft. I’m a senior in high school. And I knew who he was because I was a basketball fan, and growing up on the West Coast I had heard of him. But it was a different time back then. You didn’t have all the games on TV and everything. So, I didn’t know that much about him.

"John proceeded to wipe the floor with me. He stole the ball from me, he scored on me at will. It was a total embarrassment. They basically took me into the office and they said, 'You know, we’re, we’re going to go in a different direction (laughter).’ So I always blamed John Stockton for ruining my future at Gonzaga."

Now that's some funny stuff.

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

Fortunately for Kerr, it all worked out in the end. He had a fantastic career at Arizona as he helped lead the Wildcats to the 1988 Final Four.

And needless to say -- it must have been pretty sweet for Kerr to make the game-winning/series-clinching shot against Stockton and the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

[RELATED: Kerr credits Westbrook for one of his favorite quotes ever]

Before we go, we have to address one detail. Kerr's visit to Spokane must have been in the spring of 1983 because he graduated high school soon thereafter. This means that Stockton wasn't yet preparing for the NBA draft because he was the No. 16 overall pick in 1984.

Oh well. No big deal. The story still stands.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: Can Jaden McDaniels develop into Kevin Durant?

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: Can Jaden McDaniels develop into Kevin Durant?

Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the seventh of a 12-part series over the next six weeks.

The long and exceedingly lean physique is reminiscent of a Brandon Ingram or a Jonathan Isaac or a Chris Boucher. Or even a young Kevin Durant.

That the resume is as thin as frame partly explains why Jaden McDaniels is a bit of a sleeper. After one season at the University of Washington, there is a chance he’ll sneak into the lottery but it’s more likely he’ll be drafted later in the first round.

Potential is why McDaniels is on the radar of NBA teams, including the Warriors. If Golden State trades out of the top five and drops toward the middle of the draft, McDaniels likely will be available. His game is, at his best, is stellar.

McDaniels is as comfortable playing above the rim as pulling up from deep. Despite being 6-foot-10, he handles well enough to score off the dribble. In his collegiate debut, he scored 18 pounds, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in an upset win over mighty Baylor.

Indeed, it is McDaniels’ combination of small forward finesse and power forward length that caught the attention of opposing coaches and NBA scouts.

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

Those scouts already knew McDaniels was a five-star prospect at Federal Way High in the Seattle area. They’d already seen the clips, including those in which McDaniels, perhaps bored, would finish in transition by lobbing balls off the backboard to himself for dunks.

They also glimpsed red flags. McDaniels was prone to turnovers. His shot selection was spotty. There was some inconsistency insofar as some nights McDaniels was the best player on the floor and other nights he was liability to the Huskies.

It also will concern front offices that McDaniels displayed fits of immaturity. That was a factor in him leading the Pac-12 Conference in technical fouls with six. He also fouled out eight times in 31 games. At one point of the season, McDaniels was benched by Huskies coach Mike Hopkins, who was displeased with a spate of fouls and poor judgment.

McDaniels is, in this regard, not unlike teenage Marquese Chriss, who struggled in his first three NBA seasons but exhibited clear signs of maturity after joining the Warriors last fall.

McDaniels, however, has a deeper basket of pure offensive skills and possesses the ability to defend at least three positions. The comps in most mock drafts – such as Ingram and Isaac – are not so much about what he is than about what he can be.

If McDaniels, the younger brother of Hornets guard Jalen McDaniels, matures nicely contains his emotions and adds 10-15 pounds to his frame there is a reasonable chance he can become a star. It’s rare that someone with his size/skill combination comes along.

[RELATED: Could Cassius Winston follow Draymond?]

Some team will be willing to take that chance. McDaniels is a longshot for the Warriors, but any play they make for him will come only after they’ve gone beyond the tantalizing gifts and come away convinced their culture can help him reach his ceiling.

Jaden McDaniels

Position: Forward
Class: Freshman
Birthdate: Sept. 29, 2000 (19)
Hometown: Federal Way, Wash.
2019-20 stats: 13.0 points (40.5 percent FG, 33.9 percent 3p, 76.3 percent FT), 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks.
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 200
Wingspan: 7 feet
What they’re saying: “You know the funny thing is, and I don’t mean funny to make a joke, but only really good players can lead a league in (turnovers and fouls). You go take a look at the all-time leaders on those lists and it’s nothing but Hall of Famers. I say that to say, how good must Jaden be to where he’s giving you so much that it outweighs those things you don’t like? And the answer is, he’s really, really good. Now as a coach, you have to ask yourself: ‘What can I live with and how can we curb some of those erratic behaviors?’” – former Warriors coach and current NBA/NCAA analyst P.J. Carlesimo, to the Seattle Times.