This season will be thick with clichés.
- The Warriors will have to fight against what Pat Riley described as “the disease of more.”
- They’ll get “everyone’s best shot.”
- Instead of being the hunter, they’ll be the hunted.
It’s going to get tedious for the players, coaches and execs, but they’ll take it because those clichés are better than ones teams have to hear after falling just short.
There are two worries heading into this season for the Warriors. The first is health, since Golden State was one of the top-five healthiest teams last season and these things tend to go in cycles. This is probably why they revamped their training and medical department. The second is complacency, since this whole “defending a championship” thing is completely new territory.
The player most likely to stir up emotions and scream complacency out of the building is clearly Draymond Green, who’s been known to use his voice to rally teammates, irk opponents, and argue with Steve Kerr during games. Hell, Green screamed for some promotional video thing during Stephen Curry’s interview session at yesterday’s media day (more on those festivities in a bit), and he was so loud that I couldn’t hear what Curry said in response to the first two questions.
When it was Green’s turn to answer questions, I asked whether as a leader he felt responsible for making sure the team doesn’t rest on its past accomplishments. He didn’t think it’d be necessary.
“I think at any time when you win a championship, you just have to make sure that everybody stays hungry. I don’t think that’ll ever be a problem on this team, especially with this group of guys being as young as we are. We’re still hungry because we have a lot more — we know we have a lot more that we can accomplish and a lot more that we want to accomplish. I don’t see it being a problem for this team to stay hungry. It’s not something that you have to be on somebody every day about going hard,” said Green, who then started rattling off ages.
“I’m 25; Harrison is 23; Steph is 27; Klay is 25; I think Bogues may have just turned 30; Dre, 30, 31; Shaun, 29. We’ve still got a lot left in the tank, and we want to make sure that we capitalize on that.”
Let’s see how Green did. He got his own age correct, along with Barnes, Curry and Thompson. Andrew Bogut turns 31 on Nov. 28. Andre Iguodala is 31, and Livingston turned 30 a couple weeks ago. Hey, close enough. The Warriors’ core is young, and they’re all looking to get better.
Nash is no gimmick
“I still think (Curry is) just scratching the surface on how good he can be and how good he’s going to be. And it’s exciting, exciting to watch,” Green said.
“I think a lot of guys on our team are in that same position, that same boat to where you’ve seen how good — some of the things that you can possibly do, and you see how good you can be, but not there yet.”
How does Curry reach another level after last season? Based on what the reigning MVP said yesterday, signing Steve Nash as a consultant isn’t just hype.
“I’m just trying to be more explosive in what I do, create more space with the dribble, getting stronger and trying to hold my lines more when they’re attacking the basket and things like that. I’m going to be smarter. That is the key for me is to continue to try to make the best decisions with the ball as a point guard, get my teammates involved, feeling the flow of the game and just watching film and learning from last season,” said Curry.
“I’m looking forward to chop it up with Coach Nash, a guy that can hopefully, as we watch film and talk and have that back and forth, that will maybe show me things that I don’t see on the floor and be able to help me even more. So it should be fun to go out and kind of show what we’re working on. I’m still going to be doing the same things I’ve been doing and not going to be a different player but just try to be better.”
Not your parents’ Warriors
The last part of that Curry quote translates to the entire franchise — still the same, but with an increased profile and hopefully better than before. Besides the absence of David Lee and the addition of Jason Thompson, the same players were there yesterday that we chatted with last year. The players looked the same (other than Bogut’s new haircut), Bob Myers strolled around in a slim-fitting expensive suit, and the public relations employees were all familiar faces.
But this version of media day was much different than any of the last four I attended, and the main difference was obvious when I walked into the team’s gym in downtown Oakland. Interview sessions in years past took place at big, round tables. Two or three players were always available at the same time, so there were opportunities to get one-on-one time with role players, along with decent back-and-forth conversations with the stars. I must have asked Curry at least three or four questions in a row last year.
Yesterday was different, with a podium set up in the same area on the practice court and rows of tables and chairs facing the podium. Two men toted microphones on long poles, which they’d thrust in front of each person who asked a question. Instead of a free-for-all situation, one player came to the podium at a time. The answers were still the same, but instead of a casual setting this was an official press conference.
And I don’t blame the Warriors for this. There were more national reporters than I ever remember seeing, and the demands on the players have surely risen exponentially. That’s the new, glorious, uncharted reality. This franchise, on the NBA’s periphery for decades in several ways, is now big-time. They don’t have the craziness that follows the Lakers and Knicks, but they have more talent and recent success, which makes them more relevant and interesting to fans and media alike. How will the Warriors handle the extra attention throughout an entire regular season? That could prove just as vital as injury avoidance and staying hungry as they defend their crown.