The Warriors visit San Antonio tonight on primetime and when the NBA slated this game for a Saturday night in March in the thick of NCAA conference tournaments, and when ABC put it on their schedule, it seemed like a no brainer ratings tsunami. On opening night in Oakland, when the Spurs man handled the new look Kevin Durant Warriors, this game took on more intrigue. Kawhi being unguardable. The Warriors without much size to deal with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. The role players on both sides and their shot making. The two coaches- winners of a title two of the last three years, not to mention teacher (Gregg Popovich) vs. student (Steve Kerr).
All that interest and intrigue is over. Kawhi Leonard is in concussion protocol which means he is probably out for a few days depending on how he advances neurologically.
LaMarcus Aldridge had an episode of minor heart arrhythmia and will need further testing, so he is out too. Tony Parker is out. So is Dejounte Murray.
Steve Kerr is sitting out his four best players. Steph won play, Klay won’t play. Draymond won’t play. Iggy won’t play. So Pau Gasol on the Spurs side and Shaun Livingston and David West on the Warriors side will determine the loss or victory.
We are used to Pop resting his players but this is a new Steve Kerr look. It’s a good one too. This is the second night of a Warriors back-to-back. The Dubs have had a brutal schedule post All-Star break. This will be their seventh road game in 13 days. They are fatigued and there is no Kevin Durant to lean on. Recently, an analyst opined the Warriors are not having fun. Duh. Their best player is out and will return who knows when. They are a thin bench. And they are tired. Particularly Steph Curry’s three point shot.
Exhaustion wasn’t Andre Iguodala’s excuse last night. Or, maybe it was.
After another typical Warriors loss- they come out flat against a team that plays zero defense but has young and skilled offensive players- then they storm back to try to win it at the end only to have Curry miss a game winner (the Warriors are 0-7 this year on last shot game winners). Iggy, clearly peeved at the game and officiating and the whole losing thing, said a little something something.
Unaware he wasn’t playing tonight in San Antonio and told by the media, Iguodala was then asked how did he feel about not playing. He had a quizzically look on his face. “I do what master says.”
The master comment felt flat, though was noticed by everyone. Iggy being Iggy, perhaps. He tried to pretty it up by saying he didn’t mean any shade against Steve Kerr. It was something that goes on in the locker room. In other words he used the inside joke card to extricate himself from a sensitive situation.
Iguodala then used the N-word when asked about how the Warriors improve. “What would dumb n_____ say? Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. You know what we used to say. Change going to come.”
Two slavery themes back to back as if Iguodala, intentionally or not, was comparing himself, a millionaire, and his teammates, also millionaires. to the 12.5 million slaves and their life of cruelty, and, by default, implying Kerr was the master. It was allegory. It was sarcasm. But it failed as a device because for it to work both sides have to be in on the joke. All it did was make everyone feel awkward, which was his purpose. Make it awkward enough so you leave me the hell alone.
Clearly he didn’t want to talk to the media and really he doesn’t have to. He can walk out without speaking to them. But he chose to be passive-aggressive and say things the media would interpret as, at the very least, awkward. The majority white media crew covering the majority black athletes occasionally run into communication black holes. So I guess, in that way he won. He got what he wanted.
He lost too. It punctured a hole in the Warriors mythology, what make them the Warriors.
Maybe it is true. The Warriors aren’t having fun.
photo via llananba