Warriors

Why D'Angelo Russell wore Aaron Rodgers jersey on eve of NFC Championship

Why D'Angelo Russell wore Aaron Rodgers jersey on eve of NFC Championship

Well ... this is awkward.

The Warriors broke a 10-game losing streak Saturday night when they defeated the Orlando Magic, 109-95. Then the postgame interviews came.

When it was Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell's turn to speak to the media, he showed up wearing ... an Aaron Rodgers jersey?

Hmm ...

The San Francisco 49ers face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, so for him to wear this on the eve of this matchup is pretty gutsy.

But, there's a backstory there.

D'Lo has worked out the with members of the Packers in Agoura Hills, Calif. before. But working out with Rodgers was something extra special for him to see.

"It was cool, man," Russell told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. "Getting to witness the greatness up close -- I was standing out a little bit so it was cool to kind of to see how he carries himself."

Rodgers would work out with Green Bay tackle David Bakhtiari and Russell noticed just how much of an impact the eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback had on those around him.

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And the fact that the Packers are playing the local 49ers team on Sunday? Russell said he would be happy if Green Bay got the W.

"It'd be great," he said. "I'd probably wear the same jersey in here."

Why Steve Kerr isn't doing video conference calls with Warriors players

Why Steve Kerr isn't doing video conference calls with Warriors players

As people all over the world continue to practice social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing has soared.

It's a great way to see people's faces and stay connected.

But that doesn't mean everybody is taking part.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the following story Thursday night during a radio appearance on KNBR 680:

"I got a text yesterday from (Sacramento Kings coach) Luke Walton. He said, 'Have you had any Zoom conference calls with your team?' And I said, 'No. Have you?' He goes, 'No. I'm hearing that other teams are doing that and I was feeling bad that we weren't.' And I said, 'You know what -- it's fake. It's fake hustle (laugther).'

"Picture this -- you're a player and this kind of suspension to a season is happening, do you really want to get on a Zoom conference call with your coach? No! No! It's the last thing you want. It's fake hustle. We're not doing any of that stuff."

Kerr isn't demanding daily 10:00 p.m. meetings where every Warriors player discusses what they did that day?!

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[RELATED: Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid stoppage]

It sounds like the eight-time NBA champion has more important things to do:

In all seriousness though -- great response, coach. Keep enjoying the family time and watching film on some of the top 2020 NBA Draft prospects.

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Steve Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid coronavirus halt

Steve Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid coronavirus halt

It was Steph Curry on the fast break throwing a blind, over-the-shoulder pass to Kevin Durant for the easy dunk.

It was Andre Iguodala stripping Damian Lillard or LeBron James and igniting transition offense.

It was Klay Thompson running through a maze of screens before getting the perfect pass from Shaun Livingston and firing one through the net.

We’re 24 days into this cycle of sports nostalgia -- it’s all we have in the absence of live events -- and rarely does a day pass without images of recent Warriors supremacy flashing across TV/computer screens. Fans are allowing themselves to reminisce. So, too, is the coach.

“That was pretty special era, with special teams,” Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “The one thing that has always stood out to me, whether I was a part of a special team as a player or coach, or a fan of a special team, is that It’s not just wins and losses. It’s the style, and the connection with fans.”

The Warriors entered 2019-20 coming off the most impressive five-year run in NBA history, compiling a 322-88 record, for a .785 winning percentage. The three championships and five consecutive trips to The Finals are well-chronicled.

But the level of mastery on display is, in retrospect, nothing less than startling.

“There’s been this incredible momentum and connection with our fans over the last five or six years, and it’s tough to match that,” Kerr said. “Some of that is due to the incredibly high level of play. People come ... that’s what they want to see. Whether it’s like seeing a rock band at the height of their powers or an artist, it’s the same concept. They just want to see something beautiful and experience something beautiful. That’s the connection.”

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It was Draymond Green squaring up to defend James Harden and stripping him for the steal.

It was Durant, staring down LeBron and then walking into a top-of-the-key 3-point kill shot.

It was Andrew Bogut slyly slipping an exquisitely timed pass to Curry and diving toward the rim.

“I always thought Bogut was one of the most underappreciated parts of our team,” Kerr recalls. “Those first two years, his passing, his dribble-handoff game, his defense, his working with Draymond on that end ... Bogut was incredible. Just an incredible basketball player, and he complemented that group perfectly.

“And then the team kind of morphs, different guys coming and going, and it’s still really about Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andre. But you see these key figures come in. Like David West, playing 15 minutes a night and picking people apart. It was beautiful to watch.”

The Warriors posted successive seasons with 39-2 records at Oracle Arena. Regular-season records piled up: 73 wins, 54 straight home victories, 34 road wins and 24-0 to open a season.

The shooting was superb, the ball movement wizardly, the defense ravenous. Above all, there was a visible synergy that often resulted in sequences that appeared choreographed.

It was Kevon Looney switching out on DeMar DeRozan and giving up nothing. It was JaVale McGee catching lobs, maintaining a presence in the paint and resuscitating his career. It was Zaza Pachulia setting a perfect screen or dropping a bounce pass backward between his legs.

It was Curry single-handedly destroying a defense, Green single-handedly stifling an offense.

“Even within that five-year run, the core was the same, but there were different guys who provided different things, different dynamics to our team,” Kerr says. “That was the apex. I don’t know that we ever reached a higher level as a group than we reached 2016, when we won 73, but the ’17 team was the best because of Kevin. Just the unstoppable nature of having the ability to always go to him anytime we needed to. That team was just devastating.”

Perhaps no accomplishment was more impressive than opening the 2017 postseason with 15 consecutive wins and becoming the first team to hang a 16-1 record on its challengers. They won closeout games by an average of 18.5 points.

One game, however, sends Kerr practically into a dreamlike state.

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After coaching Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kerr stepped away to cope with unrelenting physical discomfort. Lead assistant Mike Brown took over, and the Warriors posted a tight (119-113) win in Game 3. Win Game 4 and the sweep is completed.

“Our first quarter was almost unfair,” Kerr recalls. “I think we scored 40 points.”

Make it 45. The Warriors rolled to leads of 14-0, 22-3 and 35-9 before closing the quarter with a 45-22 lead and eventually coasting to a 128-103 rout.

“It’s like we had everything going,” Kerr says. “JaVale was getting dunks because (the Blazers) were so worried about all the shooting on the perimeter. We defended like crazy. That game just felt unfair.”

Indeed, it did, as did many others over a five-year span that might be better appreciated in hindsight and will be exceedingly difficult to equal, much less surpass.