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9:43AM

Kerr gets a ‘moment of joy’ for Craig Sager

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr is special. But you already knew that. He’s a great coach, of course. That’s a given. One year, his Warriors win the NBA championship. The next, they set a record for victories. What really counts is that he knows how to act, knows what to say.

He is measured, perceptive, logical and — as we learned again Tuesday night, when the Warriors (yawn) won again, defeating the New York Knicks 103-90 to improve their record to 23-4 — understanding.

What his Warriors did, moving the ball brilliantly (36 assists on the first 36 Warriors field goals, eventually 41 of 45), playing efficient defense (the Knicks shot 41 percent), was impressive.

No less impressive than the remarks of their head coach.

Kerr used to be an announcer, an analyst for TNT. After he had been a three-point specialist, most notably on the Chicago Bulls. Kerr’s TV career made him teammates with Craig Sager, as surely as Kerr’s NBA career made him teammates with Michael Jordan.

Sager died Tuesday, age 65, after a gallant fight against leukemia. His partner of eight years, Kerr, was not going to allow us to forget how much Sager meant to him and certainly, because of Sager’s national presence and good-humor enthusiasm, how much he meant to pro basketball.

During the second half of what quickly, as so often happens for the Warriors, had become a non-competitive game, Kerr told the audience for TNT, which conveniently was doing the telecast, that what was taking place on the court was secondary to the loss of Sager.

That came after an unusual tribute at Oracle Arena before tipoff. Holding a public address microphone, as warm-ups were concluding, Kerr asked both the Knicks and Warriors to stand near him. Then, surprising all, for Sager’s memory Kerr requested not silence but “a moment of joy.” Oracle erupted in an explosion of cheers and applause from players and fans.

Later, after expressing displeasure with the Warriors’ play — “I didn’t think there was much purpose to anything we did,” Kerr insisted — he again referred to Sager.

“We all know we make a big deal about playing basketball for a living,” said Kerr. “We are lucky to do so. It’s entertainment, a game, and it brings a lot of joy to people. But that’s all it is, a game.

“We lost somebody very important in our lives. The players know Craig so well from being interviewed. Craig’s death far outweighs anything that happens in the gym.”

Earlier Kerr had been asked about the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Cavs coach Tyrone Lue had left their three stars, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, in Cleveland when the Cavs came to Memphis for the second night of back-to-back games against the Grizzlies.

The question wasn’t so much conceding a loss — and yes, the Grizzlies won — but about preventing the fans in Memphis the chance to watch in person the players they hoped to see, especially LeBron. Athletes get injured, certainly, and miss games, but not even permitting them in the same city, simply to rest them for the future, would seem another issue completely.

The smaller the lineup, 11 men in football, nine in baseball, five in basketball, the more significant is each player.  Additionally, in basketball one man can play offense and defense, rebound and shoot, do it all.

Entertainment, Kerr correctly called it. Built on a star system, something created in Hollywood nearly 100 years ago. People who don’t know opera line up for Placido Domingo. He’s the attraction, the way LeBron is the attraction. And then LeBron is a no-show.

“I did this two years ago in Denver,” conceded Kerr about the situation. “I rested our guys. We were in the midst of seven games in 11 days. I felt bad about it afterwards. I got a lot of emails from people that had come all over the place and driven a couple hundred miles and bought tickets to come see Steph (Curry). And they didn’t get to see him.

“I understand both sides. As a coach your responsibility is to keep your players healthy, and there are times when guys need a night off. I know the popular thing is that they make millions of dollars, and they should be able to play every night. But what if you play them and they get hurt?”

Nobody got hurt Tuesday, Curry scored only eight — he was 3 of 14 — and Klay Thompson had 25. An uneventful night, except for Kerr’s call for a moment of joy and the boisterous response. We’ll remember that for a long while.

9:18AM

SF Examiner: Jeremy Lin leaves Warriors wondering 'What if?'

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

"This is unbelievable. I’ve never been part of something like this," Jeremy Lin said. But not about becoming the toast of New York, about signing with the Warriors.

Hey, the young man had to start some place.

He was a curiosity, a hometown kid...

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2012 SF Newspaper Company

9:45AM

RealClearSports: NBA's All About Glamour Teams

By Art Spander
For RealClearSports.com


So, Denver, the city and the team, symbolically lies bleeding and battered. It was overmatched and under-financed. The NBA is a league for the Big Guys, figuratively as well as literally.

In the so-called ultimate team game, everything is under the control of the individual.

Read the full story here.

© RealClearSports 2011