The seats in press row were different this time around. Last time the Warriors gave me a press credential and an assigned seat in press row (between the first level and the suites), I was on the left side next to Ethan Sherwood Strauss, a couple Turkish media guys following Hedo Turkoglu around (so now instead of watching Steve Nash pass to Hedo, they get to see Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas fight with Hedo over who gets to take the ball up the floor), and a couple Warriors.com guys.
This time, as you can tell from the picture I was at the table on the right side of the court. The huge cup of Diet Pepsi is to counteract the sloppy joe (joe’s?) I ate in the media room, the first time I’ve consumed one of those since high school (and it was DELICIOUS).
Sitting at my table was a veritable who’s-who of NBA journalists, including Matt Steinmetz, Geoff Lepper, Sam Amick (one of my favorites, a guy who probably wrote the most talked about Warriors feature this year when he profiled the maturation of Monta Ellis … last night he spent the game working on a putting together a story on four anonymous scouts’ grades of the two Orlando Magic trades), and Ric Bucher (yes, every hair on his head was perfectly placed and set in stone).
Since last time the Warriors invited me over I wrote kind of a play-by-play account of what it was like to cover my first professional game, this time I’m going to do something different. Might as well skip all the wide-eyed details this time, because now that this “access” thing is old hat, I’ve become jaded.
(I’m totally kidding, this is like an unpaid internship for my dream career.)
During the game
— My wife loves Survivor, and even though I never watched it for the first 80 years it was on, now I’m totally hooked. Watching the game during the first quarter, I realized that Lou Amundson looks a lot like Fabio, the 21-year-old blond model who won Survivor Nicaragua the night before, and tweeted my thoughts on this extremely important matter.
— That led to Geoff Lepper Twitter-agreeing with my assessment, then the writers at the table realizing that Lepper and I were sitting five feet apart from each other. That led to a pretty great off-the-record story I was told by one of the other writers. All I can tell you is that at an NBA game on the East Coast, a freelance writer ripped a very well known columnist (no, the famous columnist in question wasn’t at last night’s game) on Twitter, only he didn’t know that the columnist was sitting two seats away. This led to the columnist standing up and in so many words threatening to kick the crap out of the freelancer who posted the tweet. The lesson: look both ways before you cross the tweet. Or something.
— Rodney Carney is one of the clumsiest, most out of control player I’ve ever seen. No wonder he’s crazy athletic and pretty smart (at least from what I can tell when he got interviewed by Jim Barnett a couple weeks ago) but isn’t good enough to take minutes away from Dorell Wright.
— Vlad Radmanovic airballed a three and horse-collared Kyle Lowry for a flagrant foul last night (the best part was when he put his hand up to take the foul, even though there was no other Warrior within 20 feet of him). Odd night for VladRad.
Keith Smart speaks
Lots of interesting quotes last night from the postgame presser. Smart seems resigned to the fact that as of now his team is completely undermanned, although he seems to wish the atmosphere at Oracle weren’t so stagnant.
— In explaining his interesting substitution patterns (for a good amount of time, Smart went with a Nellieball-like 3-guard lineup including Monta, Jeremy Lin and Acie Law along with Udoh and either Vladimir Radmanovic or David Lee), Keith Smart said, “I was searching for energy in the building, energy on the floor.” Smart knows if his team doesn’t start winning games at home soon, he’s going to have to start looking over his shoulder. And not just because Nellie was in the house last night, something that probably excited the writers around me more than anything that happened on the court.
— On playing Jeremy Lin, who seemed destined for the D-League, for 10 minutes:
“I looked down there, and I thought … the guy works every day, every day he calls the coach and he’s there early morning, working in the gym. And I can’t overlook that. I got to look at guys who work hard, who want work hard all the time … and he does that. He’s still going to make his mistakes and maybe he’s still not ready to be an NBA pro player yet, but he works hard, tries to do what you want him to do and he came into the game and he played hard, tried to defend some people. And again, he came in with that group to get us back in the game. My intention was not on my roster to play him tonight, but he got in and that was it.”
— What the Warriors have to do to get the energy infusion they desperately need during this rough stretch, both in terms of the schedule and the team’s overall health: “We got to get our full team. We got to get a roster to finish the game.”
— Bucher asked Smart if he knows what his rotation will be once everyone gets healthy (which is quite an assumption, knowing this team): “Oh yeah, it’s locked in. I know now, I know exactly how my rotation will be once these guys are healthy and back.”
— And finally, I asked Smart what his thoughts were on Acie Law’s contributions. Law’s a guy who’s made less than 25% of threes in his career but still keeps gunning with the Warriors (Law was 0-for-5 from 3pt range last night). Law drives me crazy, but Smart seems more understanding (maybe that’s because Lin isn’t “ready to be an NBA pro player yet”):
“He’s still brand new to the bunch as well. He’s been able to come in and kind of solidify … we got him right now because Curry is out, so we can still move Monta off the ball. I think that was important tonight that I got Monta off the ball a little bit to get him some rest rather than have the team lock in on him all the time … He’s still trying to figure everything out himself. He’s living in a hotel, trying to figure out life here.”
The Locker room
— No pictures here (here’s the interview I recorded with Ekpe Udoh), for obvious reasons. There was a huge amount of food set up for the players this time, which I didn’t notice last game. Probably because they were getting on a bus immediately after showering, interviewing, etc. and taking off for Sacramento. That’s probably why they all had their cute little Warriors-logo suitcases with them at their lockers, too.
— First thing I saw when I walked in the locker room was Fabio Amundson with his shirt off and two huge ice bags taped to his knees, scarfing down pizza. No tater tots.
— David Lee’s probably a victim of his own ability to speak articulately. Reporters always know to crowd around him for a quote or two. I got some video of the everyone asking him questions, but nothing he said was really interesting enough to post, unless you’re surprised that Lee thinks Monta is a great scorer, or that Lee’s disgusting elbow is feeling better these days.
— All the players know Bucher, and it looked like he enjoys being part of the club. He sat and talked with Dorell Wright for a while, and Stephen Curry made sure to say “what’s up” to him before leaving.
— Just think: if I keep going at this rate, in a few years I’ll be like Bucher, hanging out in Vegas with D-Wade and BronBron, drinking Cristal out of champagne flutes made from blood diamonds. Or not.