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The Warriors experienced Public Relations staff is highly
regarded throughout the NBA and in professional sports. Throughout
the 2007-08 season, Warriors PR gave fans a behind-the-scenes
look at the team. From practice to the locker room to cross-country
road trips, Warriors PR provided the kind of coverage that
can't be found in other media outlets.
The Warriors' backcourt duo of Baron Davis and Monta Ellis compares favorably to that of several teams in this year's playoffs. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
It’s hard to believe that the Warriors season ended just a little over three weeks ago. It feels like months have gone by since the lights went out at ORACLE Arena for the final time this season. To put it in perspective, Golden State’s magical run last year didn’t end until a 100-87 defeat at Utah on May 15th.
With this new found free time, we’ve been afforded the opportunity to watch the playoffs from a non-biased, third-party perspective. It’s always better to be involved, but we must say that the playoffs have been pretty entertaining so far. Although there haven’t been any upsets yet, some interesting story lines have arisen.
After watching Games 1 and 2 of the Boston-Atlanta series, who would’ve thought the Hawks would be able to push the 66-win Celtics to the brink of elimination?
The play and growth of MVP runner-up Chris Paul has been amazing. Can you believe that he had never played in an NBA postseason game prior to this year? In eight games, Paul is averaging 25.6 points, 11.8 assists and 2.00 steals in 40.5 minutes. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 9.4-to-1!
And we certainly have the Spurs. Every year San Antonio seems to be the mix. After losing Games 1 and 2 of their series with New Orleans, many skeptics were wondering if that was it for the 2007 NBA Champs. However, last night Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich moved 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year Manu Ginobili into the starting line-up. How did the Spurs react? Well, they went out and downed the Hornets, 110-99, and trimmed the Hornets series lead to 2-1. Ginobili and Tony Parker led the way with 31 points apiece.
The efforts of Ginobili and Parker got us thinking about some of the best backcourts in the NBA and obviously, we’ve had some great ones throughout the years. You had the Knicks 1973 championship backcourt of Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Earl “Pearl” Monroe. We had the Showtime Lakers of the early 80’s consisting of Magic Johnson and Byron Scott. The late 80’s-90’s brought Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, who teamed-up to win two NBA championships (1988-89 and 1989-90). And then you had that guy in Chicago…Michael Jordan. It didn’t really matter who was in the backcourt with No. 23, they were going to be pretty good.
We decided to take a look at the next generation of great backcourts and, while we’re no authority on the matter, we think we have a pretty good one in Oakland with Baron Davis and Monta Ellis.
This season, the pair of Davis and Ellis guided the Warriors to 48-34 record, which represented the team’s best record since the 1993-94 season. In the process, the duo averaged a combined 42.0 points on 47.3% shooting, while dishing out 11.5 assists and grabbing 9.7 rebounds a game.
Meanwhile in San Antonio, where Ginobili is technically not a starter, he and Parker usually see quite a few minutes together on the floor. They averaged 38.3 points on 47.8% shooting from the field, to go along with 10.4 assists and 8.0 rebounds. In addition, Parker and Ginobili have combined to bring the Spurs three championships in five seasons.
And, of course, any conversation about backcourts also has to include the Pistons duo of Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. Those two won a championship during the 2003-04 season, and this season, they averaged 34.3 points on 46.8% shooting, 11.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds.
Like Jordan, the kid playing in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant, forms a pretty decent backcourt himself, whether you toss Derek Fisher or Jordan Farmar on the floor next to him.
Entertaining duos, indeed, which should make the rest of the playoffs quite entertaining.
Monday, April 28 (4:25 p.m.)
Monta’s Improvement Puts Him In Select Company
Monta's signature mid-range jumper is one of the big reasons he shot over 53% from the field this season. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
As you may have heard, the NBA has announced that Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu is the league’s Most Improved Player for 2007-08 season. Congrats to Hedo, who received 61 first-place votes from a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasters from the league’s 30 markets (no more than three voters from any one market are allowed to vote on each award).
What you may not have heard is that Warriors’ guard Monta Ellis – who won the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2006-07 – received five votes (one second place and four third place) in the balloting for this year’s award. While it may not garner very much attention, this says a lot about Monta and his CONTINUED development.
Just one season after being named MIP, Ellis had a career-year for Golden State in 2007-08, averaging 20.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 37.9 minutes while playing in 81 games and making 72 starts. What’s more, he shot 53.1% (652-1,227 FG) from the field for the season…from the guard position. He was one of only seven guards in the NBA to shoot over 50.0% for the year (ranking third among those seven) and had the highest field goal percentage in the league among all guards that attempted at least 700 shots for the season (which is slightly over 8.5 per game).
You might be asking yourself, “how common is it for a former MIP winner to get votes again later in his career?” Well, maybe you weren’t asking that…but we were. So we looked it up.
Turns out that since the award was originated in 1985-86 season, Ellis is just the fourth player to win the Most Improved Player award and then receive votes for the same award later in his career. In fact, he is just the second player to win the award and receive votes the very next season AND the only player to receive multiple votes in the season immediately after being named MIP.
Who else has done it, you ask…we asked too.
The others holding this special distinction are Gilbert Arenas (won the award in 2002-03 & received five votes two years later in 2004-05), Tracy McGrady (won the award in 2000-01 and received two votes two years later in 2002-03) and Jermaine O’Neal (won the award in 2001-02 and received one vote the next season in 2002-03).
Not bad company for young Monta to be included in. Arenas is a three-time All-Star, McGrady is a seven time All-Star and O’Neal is a six-time All-Star.
NBA Commissioner David Stern presented Ellis with his award during last season's playoffs. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at Monta’s award-winning season and subsequent improvement compared to the three others on this list.
Jermaine O’Neal won the award in 2001-02 when, as a 23-year-old in his sixth NBA season, he averaged 19.0 points and 10. 5 rebounds while shooting 47.9% from the field. He received one vote for MIP the next season in 2002-03 when, as a 24-year-old in his seventh NBA season, he averaged 20.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and shot 48.4% from the field.
Tracy McGrady won the award in 2000-01 when, as a 21-year-old in his fourth NBA season, he averaged 26.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 45.7% from the field. He received two votes for MIP two seasons later in 2002-03 when, as a 23-year-old in his sixth NBA season, he averaged 32.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 45.7% from the field.
Gilbert Arenas won the award in 2002-03 when, as a 21-year-old in his second NBA season, he averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists while shooting 43.1% from the field. He received five votes for MIP two seasons later in 2004-05 when, as a 23-year-old in his fourth NBA season, he averaged 25.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 43.1% from the field.
Monta Ellis won the award in 2006-07 when, as a 21-year-old in his second NBA season, he averaged 16.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 47.5% from the field. He received five votes for MIP the next season in 2007-08 when, as a 22-year-old in his third NBA season, he averaged 20.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 53.1% from the field.
What does that tell us?
That is open for many interpretations…but it does say for sure that Monta’s performance, continued development and improvement at such a young age puts him in very good company when compared to other recent young MIP winners who continued to improve so much that they garnered MIP votes a second time.
It also tells us that Monta’s shooting percentage increase from this past season is uber-impressive. Of the other three on the list, only O’Neal improved his field goal percentage the next time he received MIP votes. And he is a low post player, not a guard. Monta improved his shooting percentage by 5.6% in the years in question, while O’Neal’s improvement was 0.5%. Again, that is a guard compared to a post player.
So there you have it. Draw your own conclusions.
Congrats Hedo. Congrats Monta. Congrats to the voters who recognized the SPECIAL year that Monta had in 2007-08.
Wednesday, April 23 (9:20 a.m.)
Busy Offseason Ahead
Chris Mullin and the entire Warriors front office will have plenty of work to do this offseason.
Well, the season is over and, unfortunately, we have to watch playoff games on TV. Nonetheless, just because the lights have dimmed at ORACLE Arena for the 2007-08 season, that does not mean that our jobs are done, too. Not in PR. Not in Marketing. Not in Corporate Sales. Not in Ticket Sales. And certainly not in Basketball Operations, where the potential of having eight free agents on the roster means the dog days of July and August promise to be as hot in Chris Mullin's office as on the streets of Las Vegas and Phoenix.
I often laugh throughout the off-season when I run into a casual fan on the street and the inevitable question is asked: Do you work during the summer? Now, if I was Jim Mora, I'd probably respond right back with the same question --- "Do I work during the summer?" I think some fans honestly think that when the 82-game grind comes to an end, the office shuts down and we all leave for a five-month vacation. I wish. However, that is not the case, even in PR, where there are no games to attend, road trips to pack for or game notes to write. But, there is plenty of work. Most people in our position work seven days a week from October 1 until the end of the regular season or playoffs. It's a Labor of Love. On average, an NBA PR representative might have five days (including weekends) during the entire season where they don't have to attend a game, a practice, another team-related event or venture into the office to pitch the next story or simply catch up. We enjoy our jobs and, after all, it is just a game.....
During the summer, we will spend a lot of time creating plans for next season and continue to cultivate our relationships with various media locally and around the country. In fact, next week, we will personally deliver our Season Review Guides (first off-season project complete!!) to each of our local TVs, newspapers and selected radio stations. We think it is beneficial for us to have an opportunity to actually visit the working locations of the people we deal with all season and venturing over to places such as the San Francisco Chronicle and KGO-TV will afford us such an opportunity.
Our 250-page Season Review Guide will be used by media outlets throughout the offseason.
Each of these media outlets will utilize the Season Review Guide throughout the summer when referring to this season. It is a 250-plus page book that will include updated player biographies, feature stories from this season and every imaginable statistic. This is where you can find out that Monta Ellis became the first second round draft pick since Drazen Petrovic in 1992 to average 20 points per game as soon as his third year in the NBA. Or, you'll also see that the Warriors became the first NBA team in 17 years to have three players - Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson - average 20 points per game. Heck, you might even be curious to know that Golden State's typical staring five this season (Davis, Ellis, Jackson, Harrington, Biedrins) was the youngest of any team in the NBA with a winning record (26.2 average age).
A large portion of our summer will be dedicated to writing various publications such as our media guide and yearbook. Additionally, we have the Lottery (May 20), the annual NBA Draft (June 26) and our summer league team is scheduled to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League again this season (beginning on July 11). NBA players officially become free agents on July 1 and players can begin signing contracts on July 9. Following Summer League, the possibility of player transactions (trades, signings, etc.) increase significantly and HOOPSHYPE will be full of rumors about each of the 450 players in the league being traded at least six times.
What will the Warriors do this summer? Will Chris Mullin make a trade? Will they re-sign most of their free agents? All of them? Will they move up in the lottery? Will they trade their first round draft pick? I'm not exactly sure, but I will toss some of my glass-half-full optimism in your direction. My boss always chides me about being overly optimistic about everything in life, but I think it's safe to say that I'm not inhaling helium when it comes to the future and some of the positives that happened this season.
Let's start with a very respectable 48-34 record that Head Coach Don Nelson and his team registered. And, let's also start by noting there are currently five teams in the playoffs who recorded a poorer record than the Warriors this season. The win total (48) would typically garner a team a fifth or six seed, but due to the extremely competitive nature in the Western Conference, the Warriors are on the outside looking in, instead relegated to having the best record for a non playoff team since the current 16-team format that was instituted 24 years ago. Tough to swallow, but nothing to be ashamed of, certainly.
Two of the many reasons to be optimistic about the Warriors next season are Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright.
The list of positives from this season is as long as Brandan Wright's reach ---- 14 games above .500, a winning record on the road (21-20), the NBA's top scoring team (111.0 ppg), victories over some of the best squads in league (Boston, San Antonio, Phoenix, the Lakers, etc.) and, of course, our fans, who generated 32 sellouts and an all-time franchise single-season record in attendance (19,631 average). And, best of all, the team is young, has only one starter (Stephen Jackson) over the age of 29 and has yet to see the dividends of what was a very good draft class last June. The Warriors won 48 games with a pair of 22-year olds in the starting lineup and without any significant playing time from rookies Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli. Remember, Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis did not play much their rookie seasons, either. But, by the time their second season rolled around, the kids began to scratch the surface and became contributors on a regular basis.
Although Wright played limited minutes, one statistic grabs your attention: He averaged 8.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.44 blocked shots when logging at least 15 minutes in a game (nine times). During those nine games, he averaged 18.7 minutes. If you were to double those minutes (to 37.5 minutes per game) and the other averages, that would project to 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.88 blocked shots. I'm not insinuating that he'd average those numbers if he played 37 minutes every night, but his production for a 20 year-old one year removed from the University of North Carolina certainly bodes well for the future. Now, you can see why many scouts projected him to be the third-best prospect in last year's draft.
Belinelli, of course, was the talk of the Las Vegas Summer League last July. He scored 37 points - including five 3-pointers - in his first summer league outing. As we all know, he did not play much during the regular season, but we witnessed a glimpse of what could be in store for the future late in the regular season. Coach Nelson provided him extended minutes twice in the last two weeks of the campaign and the Italian responded by registering his two highest scoring outings of the season (13 points @ Memphis and a career-high 17 points vs. Seattle). The regular season finale against the Supersonics featured classic Belinelli, who drained 5-of-6 3-pointers and looked extremely comfortable shooting the basketball. Could it be a prelude of what's to come in 2008-09? We'll see.
48 wins. A pair of blossoming 22-year olds. Two other talented rookies entering their second year. A lottery pick. BD. Jax. Sound financial structure.
It should be an exciting and newsworthy summer, which means, of course, that we'll be busy. Even during the months of June, July and August. Go figure.
Wednesday, January 30 (11:20 p.m.)
A Big Win, C-Webb's Arrival, J-Rich's Return & Super Bowl Picks
After an impressive win in New Orleans, the Wariors will return to the Bay Area for a five-game homestand and a meeting with their new teammate, Chris Webber. (Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty)
On the flight home from New Orleans, where the Warriors just posted what may have been their most impressive victory since Game 1 of the First Round in Dallas last April. Prior to the game, Nellie told the gathered media that he thought New Orleans was the best team in the Western Conference right now, and their recent play had proven it. Consider that the Hornets had won nine-straight games heading in, including seven consecutive wins by 14-or-more points – something that only one other team in NBA history (the 2003-04 Pistons) had accomplished.
The Warriors came in with a game plan and stuck with it throughout. Other than a couple of slight lapses early in the contest that Nellie noted after the game, the Warriors executed their game plan to near perfection. On the second night of a back-to-back, after a hard fought comeback effort the night before, against the hottest team in the NBA, Golden State showed the mental toughness and steady play that propelled them to their late season success last spring and walked away with a very satisfying victory. How steady was the play? The Warriors put up 90 points in the first three quarters while committing just three turnovers against a team that has been shutting teams down lately.
After the game, the Warriors staff and players were very happy with the win, obviously. Talk in the locker room centered on three topics:
1) Practice tomorrow with newly acquired Chris Webber. The Warriors almost never practice after back-to-backs, but Nellie is bringing everyone in to get C-Webb familiar with the team and vice-versa.
2) The return of J-Rich on Friday. Several Warriors commented on how well Jason has been playing lately and they look forward to seeing their old teammate back in Oakland. It should be fun. If you’ve got tickets to the game, make sure you arrive early for introductions. If you’re watching on TV or listening on the radio, be there from the start. JR will assuredly receive one of the warmest ovations of any returning Warrior in recent memory, and it will be well deserved.
3) The upcoming schedule. Following tomorrow’s practice and Friday’s game, the Warriors have five days off with no games. This is almost unheard of during an NBA season. It will give Nellie the perfect opportunity to hold what he called a “mini-camp” to get Webber up to speed with everything. It will also give the Warriors heavy-minute guys the opportunity to get their bodies right. Jack, Baron and Monta in particular have been logging extraordinary minutes lately, and this break could not come at a better time.
Speaking of schedules, the Warriors are set to play 10 of their next 11 games in the uber-friendly confines of ORACLE Arena. The only road game during that stretch is a one-game trip to Utah, which comes at the end of ANOTHER five-day break for NBA All-Star Weekend. Contrary to the perception that the Warriors have struggled mightily at home lately, the lads have gone 13-4 in their last 17 home games after starting the campaign 0-4 in the Bay Area. Over those last 17 games, Golden State is averaging 114.2 points per game. The team is excited about this upcoming stretch and hoping to take advantage.
After tonight’s game Baron Davis met with a large crowd of local media and talked about how it felt to be back in New Orleans. BD said it was great to see a bunch of familiar faces from his playing days with the Hornets and didn’t seem to mind those fans who were getting on him during the game. Following his media session, Baron spent time with a group of 25 children from New Orleans who had attended the game as part of the community outreach that each team is doing while visiting New Orleans this season.
New Jersey native Al Harrington will be rooting hard for the Giants on Super Bowl Sunday. (Getty Images)
And finally, another topic this week has obviously been the upcoming Super Bowl. Warriors PR took an unscientific poll of the players on the trip to see which team they think will win and the results were fairly mixed: seven for the Patriots, five for the Giants and one abstention.
The most interested party of all, by far, is Al Harrington. The Orange, New Jersey, native has been a life-long New York Giants fan and has been riding the G-men’s wave through playoffs. In fact, Al had Super Bowl tickets lined up to go watch his squad on Sunday, but the mini-camp has put the skids on that plan. Be assured that Al will be rooting loudly somewhere this weekend.
Below are all the predictions, we’ll see who comes closest to guessing the correct final outcome:
WARRIORS SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS
NEW YORK GIANTS Al Harrington: Giants 31-27 Baron Davis: Giants 28-24 (claims he doesn’t care about the Super Bowl unless the Raiders are playing) Monta Ellis: Giants 24-21 Kosta Perovic: Giants 27-21 (wanted to know if that score was possible…isn’t quite sure about the rules) Andris Biedrins: Giants 21-14 (claims to have NO idea about the Super Bowl)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Kelenna Azbuike: Patriots 28-24 Matt Barnes: Patriots 35-21 Stephen Jackson: Patriots 28-14 C.J. Watson: Patriots 31-21 Patrick O’Bryant: Patriots 3-2 (not a typo. POB called this after saying to take the Pats and give the points…something’s not right) Brandan Wright: Patriots 38-21 Mickael Pietrus: Patriots 21-18 (also claims to have no idea)
NONE OF THE ABOVE Marco Belinelli: Literally had no idea.
Here’s looking forward to what should be a VERY interesting month of February!
Wednesday, January 2 (8:17 a.m.)
Celebrating 2008 in Big D
After surging past the Rockets on Monday night, the Warriors headed straight to Dallas. (Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty)
It seems only fitting that Coach Don Nelson and his Warriors begin the 2008 portion of their schedule in the city and against the team that provided so many memories in 2007 - Dallas. The Warriors arrived in Big D at approximately 10:45 p.m. on New Year's Eve following their stirring come-from-behind victory in Houston. Less than 30 minutes later, several players, staff members and friends gathered in Nellie's suite on the top floor at the team hotel to help celebrate the arrival of 2008. There was some food, a little cigar smoke and a lot of laughs for a crew that was in the mood to have a good time after having won for the 19th time in their last 26 games earlier that night.
The team hotel is located less than a mile from American Airlines Center and the heart of Downtown Dallas, where a large crowd converged to ring in the New Year. Fortunately, it was much warmer in Nellie's room in comparison to outside, where it was chilly and, maybe, 35 degrees (a little cooler than the 77 degrees that was noted on the bus ride to the Toyota Center in Houston earlier in the day). The first two players to arrive in Nellie's room for the festivities? Brandan Wright and Patrick O'Bryant, possibly hoping their punctual arrival would impress the coach and result in a little extra PT in 2008. As the clock struck midnight, the 40-plus guests toasted and wished one another a Happy New Year and 2008 had officially arrived.
Ironically enough, the Warriors concluded 2007 (January 1 to December 31) having played exactly 82 regular season games. Golden State posted a 45-37 record in those 82 outings and, of course, registered its first playoff appearance in 13 years in 2007. A win total of that amount (45) during the course of the 2007-08 regular season would virtually guarantee Golden State another playoff appearance in 2008. The upcoming schedule appears somewhat favorable to help accomplish that task too, considering the Warriors will have played as many or more road games (19) than any club in the NBA following the game in Dallas on Wednesday. At that point, Golden State will have a +5 difference in its road/home ledger (19 road/14 home).
Matt Barnes provided a first-hand account of some great moments in playoff history for an upcoming NBAE DVD. (Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE/Getty)
Prior to arriving in Dallas – where the Warriors will go for their first sweep of a three-game road trip since 1992– the team posted impressive victories in Denver and Houston, two places that are not easy to win. However, the team was loose (aren't they always?) during the plane ride to the Mile High City on Saturday, despite a close loss to the Nuggets at home on Friday. Upon arriving in Denver early Saturday evening and following the long ride to the team hotel (the longest ride in the NBA from airport to the hotel, about 40 minutes), Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes sat down to do interviews with NBAE for an upcoming DVD about great playoff moments in league history (you can probably guess the topic). At first, BD was a little hesitant to go through with the interview because, according to No. 5, he needed a haircut (players are very concerned about their appearances in photos and interviews). However, he eventually relented when he was assured by the PR guy that he was still one of the best looking 15 guys on the team, even with a less-than-perfect hair style!
After the interviews, most of the players headed out to a local restaurant to watch the New England Patriots and their quest to record an unblemished 16-0 record. The togetherness of this team is really evident in situations such as this on the road, where many of the players spend a lot of time together. More than half of the roster (probably 8 or 9 guys) ventured out to watch the final half of the football game. Of course, one of the rookies was probably stuck with the bill. Regardless, it is pretty unique/special when a team bonds together as much as the 2007-08 Warriors (and last year's Warriors, too).
The Warriors endured the high elevation and picked up a 105-95 win in Denver on Sunday. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty)
The following morning, the team entered the Pepsi Center in Denver for their 11:00 a.m. shootaround and was greeted by a scoreboard that was anticipating another high-scoring affair between the two teams, much like Friday's in Oakland. The scoreboard read "Home 255, Visitors 255" when the team took the floor. And, much to the surprise of most observers, the game turned into somewhat of a defensive battle with the Warriors holding the Nuggets to 29 fewer points than their Friday night output during a 105-95 win. The Warriors have not had much success in Colorado in recent years and the talent of the Nuggets, and, to some degree, the altitude, has something to do with the results.
Speaking of the altitude, it is always interesting to visit the Mile High City, because the local teams certainly try to psyche out their opponents when it comes to the elevation. One of the first things the players see upon exiting the team bus at the Pepsi Center is a sign that reads - "Welcome to the Mile High City --- Elevation 5,280 feet." Additionally, right before tip-off, the Nuggets' public address announcer welcomes the visiting team to Denver and reminds them of the elevation and, in a joking manner, suggests that exerting too much energy in the altitude can result in shortness of breath, sickness and, in general, bad things. Nothing like a home court advantage. Maybe we'll have Matt Hurwitz (PA announcer at ORACLE Arena) mention before tip-off that listening to our fans for 48 minutes can cause a loss of hearing. (As a side note, the noise generated inside ORACLE Arena during Friday's game against Denver was a topic of conversation in the Nuggets' locker room post-game according to local media members).
After winning in Denver, the Warriors did not get to bed in Houston until approximately 2:00 a.m. on Monday. The team did not have a shootaround, but did meet for breakfast at 11:00 a.m. Stephen Jackson, a native of Port Arthur, Texas, was busy trying to score additional tickets from his teammates during the breakfast and ended up leaving approximately 25 tickets for family and friends. Meanwhile, Nellie took in the action from a different perspective during the second half of the game ---- in the locker room after being ejected late in the second quarter. He appeared pretty content, however, when approached by the PR guy during the team's fourth-quarter scoring spree, sitting in front of a TV with one foot-long hot dog in hand and another on his lap as the Warriors registered a 37-point fourth quarter in the 112-95 win. That had to taste good.
Austin Croshere will make the transition from the court to the broadcast booth for tonight's game in Dallas. (Nick Laham/NBAE/Getty)
The Warriors did not practice on New Year's Day in Dallas (typical after a back-to-back) and had a shootaround scheduled for this morning at American Airlines Center in preparation for tonight's game against the Mavericks. Of course, a large media contingent is expected to greet the Warriors, considering the impact the team had on the Dallas sports scene last spring. If Golden State could manage a win in Dallas, the team would move seven games above the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 1993-94 season.
During a portion of tonight's game, Austin Croshere, who is making good progress from his back injury, will join Tim Roye on the Warriors' radio broadcast. It will mark the first time that the 10-year NBA veteran has tackled such a challenge, but he is welcoming the opportunity. Of course, having been a member of the Mavericks last season, Austin might be able to explain Dallas' plays to the fans back in the Bay Area even before they are executed. Croshere is hoping to return to the active roster at some point in the next week.
Monday, December 24 (12:44 p.m.)
Heading Back Home
The Warriors' win over Cleveland capped another winning road trip. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty)
Put it in the books, as the Cleveland game marked a great capper for another good road trip for the Warriors. In a game where Nellie wasn’t sure whether he was going to have Captain Jack or BD available, the duo combined for 56 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists and five steals – both playing nearly the entire game (BD played all 48, Jack played “only” 45).
The win makes the LONG six-hour flight home much more bearable. The mood on the flight home is very festive. Everyone is looking forward to getting home but very happy about what just happened over the last eight days. The difference between this year’s group and teams of recent vintage…they’re not happy with 3-2 because they felt like they should have been 4-1 with a win in New Jersey. But regardless, it was a very good trip.
It was busy over the last few days since our last blog. Two full off-days in New York will do that.
On Thursday, in addition to an optional players workout, the Warriors’ tri-captains spent time posing for a photo shoot at the team hotel. The photo shoot, which was being done for an upcoming cover of HOOP Magazine, featured all three players posing in their throwback uniforms. Following that, Stephen Jackson went to a local restaurant to sit down for an interview with Ric Bucher of ESPN fame. The duo had a great time together in front of the camera playing a word association game. Jack’s wit caught Ric off guard more than once and had everyone in the room rolling with laughter.
After a free night, the team gathered for a practice on Friday morning. This was a very spirited practice and very productive. Practice sessions on the road can be tough to predict as far as what you’re going to get out of them. The starting five was on fire the whole time and the team accomplished a lot during the nearly two-hour session. That’s not to say it was all work and no play. As the players broke up to shoot free throws at the end of practice, Baron decided that he wanted to walk in Nellie’s footsteps….literally. For a couple minutes, BD trailed his coach like a shadow, mimicking every move and staying stealth enough not to blow his cover. It wasn’t until Baron started barking out the same instructions that Nellie was that he was finally discovered. Everyone had a good chuckle, including Nellie.
To watch a video of Baron's antics, plus more footage from the final few days of the road trip, check out the video below:
Later Friday evening, Kelenna Azubuike traveled over to New Jersey for a session at the NBA Entertainment/NBA TV Studios. Kelenna did a total of three interviews while at the league’s entertainment headquarters, talking about his time in the NBA Development League and the success he’s had since being called up to the Warriors nearly one year ago. He also took time out to admire all of the amazing pictures and memorabilia that cover every wall in the building. It is a mini-Hall of Fame.
Al Harrington hosted a shopping spree for a group of children at the NBA Store in New York. View Gallery (Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty)
Saturday was a long bus ride against NYC Christmas time traffic to New Jersey to face the Nets. This game was Al Harrington’s chance to play “Local Boy Returns Home ---- And Leaves Tons Of Tickets”. In Detroit it was Tom Abdenour. In Memphis it was Monta Ellis and Brandan Wright. In Minnesota it was Patrick O’Bryant and Troy Hudson. In Cleveland, it was former Cavs coach Keith Smart’s turn to stuff the ticket envelopes.
But New Jersey belonged to Al. It proved to be a busy few days in the Big Apple for Al, as he held an event to launch his charitable Al Harrington Foundation on Thursday night, hosted a group of kids for a shopping spree at the NBA Store in Manhattan on Friday and left a total of about 65 tickets for friends and family (including youth groups from his foundation) at the game on Saturday. To view a photo gallery of Friday's shopping spree, click here.
Anyway, we’re somewhere between St. Louis (where we stopped to refuel) and the Bay Area. It’s late. But the flight is still all good coming off a win and a winning trip. With nine road wins before Christmas (something the Warriors have not done since the mid 70’s), this is becoming a common feeling.
Fellow Blog Squad contributor Andris Biedrins also just finished up an entry about the road trip. Read his blog entry here.
Tuesday, December 18 (5:48 p.m.)
Back On The Road
The weather conditions in Detroit resulted in many empty seats during Sunday's Warriors-Pistons game. (Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty)
The Warriors are back out on the road and back on the East Coast. It wasn’t that long ago that the club made their first East Coast swing and posted a 4-1 record to get the season headed in the right direction after a slow start.
This trip, just like the last one, started with a day game on a Sunday in the Eastern Time Zone. But this time, the team had to hunker down as a blizzard hit the Detroit area on Saturday. Several feet of snow blanketed the area and as the team bus crept slowly on the snow-covered roads to the Palace at Auburn Hills, the team watched as local residents dug their cars out from under the snow.
After the game, the team was forced to bus to Detroit Metro Airport instead of the much closer Pontiac airport because the conditions would not allow the plane to leave from Pontiac. Upon getting off the bus at the airport, Andris Biedrins quickly whipped up a snowball and launched it at assistant athletic trainer Frank Bernard, claiming “This is how we do in Lativa!” Dre talked about missing the snow and much more this morning during his interview with the KNBR Morning Show.
Because of the snowfall, the usually large and loud crowd at the Palace was a fraction of its usual self, and the lack of energy showed in the Warriors performance, although that might have had something to do with the very early wake-up calls. The wake-up call for Warriors PR was 7:30 a.m. – which was essentially 4:30 in the morning on the old body clock. For the players, who had a 9:00 a.m. breakfast meeting and a 9:45 a.m. bus ride to the Arena, the wake-up call came no later than 8:45 a.m., which was 5:45 a.m. back home. Not sure if you know too many NBA players’ sleeping habits, but I assure you that they don’t include waking up before 6:00 a.m. – not to mention playing a GAME at 9:30 a.m.
So, after staying close in the first quarter, the Pistons took over and the game got out of hand quickly. Coach Nelson gave the starters about five minutes in the second half to see if they could cut into the lead before essentially taking his medicine and resting his veterans for the next day’s game in Memphis. The players were not happy about the result. Stephen Jackson spoke pointedly after the game about how they are NBA players, paid very well to be ready for every game no matter what the situation. Baron Davis did not want to be pulled from the game down 20 points in the third quarter, feeling that they might be able to get some of that recent Warriors comeback magic.
(As an aside…several people outside the organization have commented since the game that it was a “scheduled loss.” I don’t think the players buy that, but it makes some sense. And that is what makes the Warriors win in Toronto last month in the exact same situation even more impressive.)
The Warriors bounced back from Sunday's defeat and picked up a 125-117 victory over Memphis on Monday. (Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty)
In retrospect, ole Nellie probably made the wise decision on this one. The team was fresh in Memphis and raced past the Grizzlies in a high-scoring affair.
The crowd in Memphis was pretty small, and it will probably be the same way in Minnesota tomorrow. It’s weird. It is night and day from what we have all become accustomed to at ORACLE Arena, where, as the great Bruce Jenkins recently wrote in the Chronicle, the atmosphere is “world-class every night.” After playing home games in front of a packed house that is noisy and intelligent and into every game, it’s strange to be in empty, quiet buildings. Makes you appreciate the ORACLE scene even more. As one travels the league, it becomes more and more apparent that what the Warriors have is truly the best thing going in the NBA. The fans should be proud of that…and happy that they get to share in it every night. The team is very aware of it and is very happy to have it.
Now Golden State is 1-1 on a trip with fairly rested players headed into tomorrow night’s game in Minnesota. Today is an off-day for the squad with an optional workout that was held earlier today at the Target Center. Several players attended and worked up a good sweat in a number of shooting contests with the coaches. Austin Croshere was the big winner of the day, teaming with Stephen Silas, who has a sweet stroke by the way, to take the two-man shooting contest.
Then came the halfcourt shootout. Riding the hot streak, Coach Silas was the first to knock one down from the midcourt stripe. However, when Austin made one as well, it was one-tie-all-tie and everyone was alive again. After a couple rounds with no makes, Marco Belinelli sunk one to take the honors and some financial donations from his fellow competitors. After the official competition, both DJ Mbenga and Patrick O’Bryant sunk halfcourters, but it was too little too late for the big fellas.
Pat also did his best Dr. J impression, working on his version of the free-throw line dunk. After several attempts that were a little closer to the restricted area semi-circle than the free-throw line, Keith Smart got involved with some tips. On his final attempt, Pat was pretty close to the free-throw line and made the dunk pretty easily. You know how in football when the kicker makes a 55-yard field goal and the announcer says, “It would have been good from 70,” … it was kind of like that.
For a quick video recap of the past few days of the Warriors' road trip, check out the video below.
After the workout, there was a lot of star gazing going on in Minnesota. No, not fans standing outside the hotel waiting for players’ autographs.
Baron Davis and Al Harrington are big fans of Rachael Ray of Food Network fame. (warriors.com photo)
This time, it was players doing the gazing and looking for autographs. Baron Davis and Al Harrington got the chance to meet Rachael Ray of Food Network fame at the Borders Books store located next to the hotel. The players could not have been more excited to meet the cooking star. They even got the chance to have their picture taken with her. The guys were so grateful to Rachel and the nice people at Borders who helped make it happen.
It’s funny to see who the NBA stars are fans of and how stoked they are when they get a chance to meet someone they admire. It’s just how all their fans must feel when they get to spend some time with their “heroes” – very cool.
With the rest of the day off in Minnesota, the players are trying to find a way to stay warm. It’s cold here. They said it was going to be in the 20s today with wind chill of 10 degrees. CALIFORNIA DREAMIN! But, at least it’s not snowing.
Monday, December 3 (9:24 a.m.)
Life on the road has made the Warriors a very tight-knit team. (warriors.com photo)
Following Sunday’s night’s victory at Seattle, the Warriors bused to Boeing Field and boarded the team plane. Once on the plane, the team waited about 15 minutes for Mickael Pietrus and assistant athletic trainer Frank Bernard to join everyone on the plane after they visited a local hospital for MP to undergo some tests on his nose and face (the tests all came back negative, which, in medical lingo, is actually positive…don’t ask…Bottom line is, nothing’s broke). With everyone on board, the team was ready to take off for home.
However, there was a technical issue on the plane that needed to be taken care of and the team was forced to wait on the rainy tarmac in Seattle for about an hour before the problem was fixed and the plane was ready to take off.
There…see. Not EVERYTHING is going great for the Warriors on the road right now.
Other than the delayed takeoff, however, just about everything else is working out quite nicely for the Road Warriors 2007-08 edition. The team is now 6-3 on the road and has won six of its last seven contests away from the Bay. It seems as if this team learned how to win on the road during last year’s late-season playoff push and has carried that over to this year.
The road has also been great for other reasons beyond just winning games. It has been widely reported that the Warriors have great team chemistry, and each road trip this season has been an occasion for that chemistry to grow even better.
The Warriors recent five-game East Coast trip, for example, turned out to be a great eight-day team building session. While on those long trips, the team is constantly together. Practices, team meetings, team breakfasts, team lunches, hotel rooms, morning shootarounds, team planes, team bus rides. Everything is TEAM. And with a squad that gets along so well, all those team building opportunities are taken advantage of.
These guys really enjoy being in each other’s company and they have fun when they’re together.
That brings out a lot of fun moments. Things like Basketball 101 With Stack Jack in New York (see the latest edition featuring the 'Electric Slide Jumper'…it’s even better than the first) or MP bringing out his camera and playing paparazzi on the team plane or everyone poking fun at each other like brothers during team meals. To see exactly what we're talking about, check out the video below:
That also brings a lot of deeply personal interactions, like the entire squad rallying around Matt Barnes before and after the recent passing of his mother, Ann.
It’s all of that stuff and much, much more that makes this group what it is. A team. A fun-loving, tight-knit, passionate team. And a team that is now just as comfortable on the road as it is at home.
FINALLY, a big thanks, once again, goes out to Catfish Corner in Seattle. The restaurant, which is owned and operated by relatives of Stephen Jackson, fed the entire travel party following Sunday night’s game in the Emerald City. Everyone got a meal that included fried catfish, chicken wings, hush puppies, mac & cheese and yams. It was incredible and much appreciated by everyone. The food actually made the previously mentioned delay on the tarmac bearable. Big thanks to CATFISH CORNER!
Monday, November 19 (5:29 p.m.)
Welcome to New York
Like the players, the team's beat reporters met DJ Mbenga on Monday. (warriors.com photo)
After spending nearly 45 minutes working on defensive rotations both in man-to-man and zone defenses, Nellie sent most of the veterans and heavy minute guys down to the far end of the gym to shoot, while another group that included Monta Ellis, Mickael Pietrus, Austin Croshere, Marco Belinelli, Patrick O’Bryant, Brandan Wright and newly acquired DJ Mbenga played a series of spirited 3-on-3 games under the watchful eye of the coaching staff.
Mbenga introduced himself to some of his new teammates with a putback dunk and some rebounds and steals that showed off his length, while Monta used his quickness to zoom though his opponents’ three defenders. Nellie stopped action a few times to offer some pointers to his big men, stressing the importance of setting strong screens in an effort to free the team’s shooters and ball handlers.
After practice, Stephen Jackson showed off some of his improvisational moves/comedy routine to Andris Biedrins. The moves, which he called “Basketball 101 by Stack Jack,” included the “kick-your-opponent in the shins jumper” and the “electric slide fade-away.” As Jack told Andris, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.
It'd be safe to say that the Warriors are enjoying their road trip so far. (warriors.com photo)
While Jack was giving lessons, Baron Davis was working on some new shots of his own. After climbing into a nearby laundry cart on wheels, Davis had Belinelli maneuver him around the court so he could work on his rolling fade-away and rolling finger roll.
The team is obviously in good spirits. Having Jack back in the fold will do that. While Jackson was around the team during his recent suspension, you could tell that things are finally back to normal now that he REALLY is back. You could tell during the game in Toronto how important he is to this team, and you can tell on the planes, on the buses and at practices how much he rubs off on his teammates. There has been a lot written about Stephen the last few days as he’s returned to action about what he means to this team. Just being around the team the last couple days proves everything that has been writing about his impact on this team – both on AND off the court.
To watch Stephen and Baron in action at today's practice, watch the video below.
Kelenna Azubuike has certainly opened some eyes in the media with his play on the court. (warriors.com photo)
Once back at the hotel, BD sat down with a crew from NBA Entertainment to film an NBA Cares PSA. After he finished, Kelenna Azubuike took his turn in front of the camera for a lengthy interview that will be featured on NBA Access W/ Ahmad Rashad. The interview was about Kelenna and his journey as an undrafted player who went through the D-League before finally arriving in the NBA. After about a half-hour in the suite, the interviewers took Kelenna down to the streets of New York to film him and talk to him as he walked through the big city.
For an “off-day,” it was fairly busy. But that’s what happens in New York. Tomorrow, it’s back to work as the Warriors go for their third-straight victory and try to get this road trip off to a REALLY good start.
Monday, October 29 (8:26 p.m.)
TNT Commercial Shoot
Al and Baron's TNT commercial is sure to be a crowd pleaser (warriors.com photo)
Following practice on Tuesday, Baron Davis and Al Harrington filmed a promo commercial for TNT’s Inside The NBA, and Warriors PR was there for some behind the scenes action. Both Baron and Al (who BD kept reminding everyone was making his acting debut) had a great time with the shoot and really got into their roles.
We are sworn to secrecy about the plot of the commercial, but let’s just say the creative geniuses at Inside The NBA (and they are geniuses…it’s simply one of the best shows on TV) would never do a TNT promo featuring the Warriors that didn’t have SOMETHING to do with the Chuckster. Keep an eye out for the commercial – the director said it might begin running “within days” so chances are that you might see it before the Warriors take on the Dallas Mavericks on TNT’s exclusive Thursday night coverage on November 8. The Warriors are one of only 3 or 4 teams that TNT has decided to use for this campaign.
Monday, October 29 (1:02 p.m.)
PR Push As Opening Night Approaches
Brandan Wright pulled off a trifecta of sorts this morning, appearing on three different radio shows in the Bay Area. (warriors.com photo)
The preseason is officially over and the Warriors are steaming full-speed ahead into Opening Night. Last night’s Open Practice was great…what an amazing crowd! The players and coaches were blown away by the support. Seeing how much enthusiasm was there last night, it's safe to say that ORACLE Arena is going to be rocking tomorrow night.
To help build that excitement, several Warriors have been taking part in a wide-spread PR push over the last 24 hours. Last night, following the Open Practice, Mickael Pietrus made an in-studio appearance at KPIX on "Gameday," the station’s Sunday night sports show. Also last night, Stephen Jackson was a guest on the "Street Soldiers" radio program on 106 KMEL.
This morning, the oldest and youngest members of the Warriors team both took early wake-up calls to take part in some A.M. interviews.
Brandan Wright (he being the youngest Warrior), took a pre-dawn drive across the Bay Bridge to pay visits to three local radio stations in San Francisco. After taping a quick interview with Peter Finch at KFOG, Brandan went in-studio for an extended segment with Murph on Mac on the KNBR morning show. For a rookie, Brandan proved very solid as an in-studio guest for the boys. Following his stay on The Sports Leader, the 6-10 Wright ducked into the small studio of the Lamont and Tonelli show on 107.7 The Bone. Along with super-producer Sully, Lamont and Tonelli peppered Brandan with a wide-array of questions … all of which the youngster handled with ease. Along with doing the interviews, Brandan brought along T-shirts, schedules and media guides for each of the stations, as well as two pairs of tickets to the November 14th Warriors-Pistons game for each station to give away to their listeners. Back in the car and back at his pad in Oakland by 8:30 a.m., it was a quick but productive trip for Brandan and the team’s PR push toward Opening Night.
Don Nelson (he, of course, being the oldest Warrior) also awoke early for an in-studio appearance on KTVU’s "Mornings On 2" program. Nellie sat down with Ross McGowan to discuss his thoughts for the upcoming season. From there, Nellie returned to the Warriors’ practice facility, coffee in hand, and went to the players lounge to catch up on the overnight sports news.
The Baron Davis media machine was in full effect on Sunday before the team's Open Practice. (warriors.com photo)
In addition to the media events geared toward Opening Night, the never-ending Baron Davis media machine was in action on Sunday, just hours before the team’s Open Practice. Baron invited photographers from DIME Magazine into his San Francisco home to conduct a photo shoot that will be profiled in the magazine’s December/January issue. For the first part of the shoot, the photographer captured Baron playing NBA 2K8 on his x-box (during which time he was KILLING his buddy while playing with the Warriors, of course). After that, Baron stepped out on to his balcony for a few shots before heading over to the facility to get some treatment before the Open Practice.
The FINAL practice before Opening Night begins in a couple hours. A few weeks ago, it seemed as if the regular season would never start. Now, we are just hours away.
Wednesday, October 24 (9:32 a.m.)
An Overtime Victory and Catfish
There were many positives to take from last night's overtime victory, including the return of Monta Ellis. (Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty)
Overtime in the preseason: It isn’t really at the top of anyone’s agenda, but there were plenty of positives for the Warriors down the stretch of regulation and into the extra frame last night. Namely, a trio of rookies (Brandan Wright, Stephane Lasme and Marco Belinelli) teamed with vets Matt Barnes and Monta Ellis to play the final 4:36 of regulation and the ENTIRE overtime against a Sonics crew that included vets Damien Wilkins, Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison (5:00 each of overtime) and Wally Szczerbiak (2:29 of overtime PT), along with rookie Jeff Green (2:29).
Not only that, but the young Warriors crew trailed by five points (109-104) with 3:16 left in regulation and battled back to force the extra period. Wright and Lasme were particularly impressive, using their athleticism and length to get hands and, when needed, finger tips on several balls down that stretch. Wright led all players with five points and four rebounds in the overtime period. The Warriors bench, consisting mostly of veteran rotation players at this point, was up on their feet for most of the overtime period, encouraging and "coaching" the young trio.
All in all, it was great experience for the rooks to be on the court in crunch time of a game, preseason or not. Certainly, to them, it was not a meaningless preseason game. To them, it was a time to show their coaches and teammates that they belong and can handle tough situations. And that is exactly what they did. Good going rooks! Now carry everyone’s bags to the bus!!!!!
Despite the great efforts from the rookies, the MVP of the night, if you ask any Warriors player, was Stephen Jackson. Although Jack was given the night off by Nellie (and looked mighty nice in his grey suit on the bench by the way), he was still the team’s MVP because of what was waiting for the players in the locker room after the game. Jackson had arranged for the post game meal to be catered by Catfish Corner, a restaurant in Seattle owned and operated by his relatives.
As the players returned to the locker room after the final buzzer, they were greeted by the sweet smell of catfish and fried chicken. Not the kind you find at a wanna-be catfish restaurant either … this was the real deal. A special thanks from everyone in the Warriors travel party goes out to Jack’s relatives for the great food …we can’t wait for our return trip to Seattle! And if you are in Seattle for any reason, Catfish Corner is highly recommended.
The next trip for the Warriors into Seattle, however, probably won’t have the same beautiful weather that we experienced over the last two days. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. On the flight into town on Monday afternoon, the buildings downtown were shining brightly and it looked as if you could reach out and touch the Space Needle. On most flights into Seattle, all you can see is dark clouds. The local news was highlighting record-setting temps all around the region as the Warriors boarded the bus to head over to KeyArena for the game.
Warriors radio broadcaster Tim Roye interviewed Brandan Wright on the plane ride home last night for tonight's Warriors Radio Roundtable. (warriors.com photo)
Let’s see … Great weather, an overtime win and fresh catfish after the game … Now that makes for a great trip. AND, no one got hurt. Baron Davis did suffer from a leg cramp at one point and did not return, but that was not due to any sort of injury. Nellie was already planning on giving him the night off after that particular timeout anyway, which explains why BD did not return.
On the plane ride home, Warriors broadcaster Tim Roye sat down with Brandan Wright and taped an interview for tonight’s Warriors Radio Roundtable, which can be heard this evening on KNBR 680 at 9 p.m. Although Roye had wanted to interview Brandan regardless of the outcome of last night’s game, the timing worked out even better after the rookie’s eye-opening performance against the Sonics. Additionally, Tim will be interviewing USA Today basketball writer David Dupree, so be sure to tune in.
Coach Nelson has given the team a day off from practice on Wednesday, with the exception of the rookies who are required to come in and workout both on the court and in the weight room. However, as the team deplaned a little after 1 a.m. this morning, many veterans were making plans to come into the facility as well to get some extra work.
Tuesday, October 23 (6:31 p.m.)
Just a last-minute update before the game tips off...
Mickael Pietrus arrived at the arena 29 minutes prior to the opening horn and was promptly inserted into Head Coach Don Nelson's starting lineup. Pietrus, who was away from the team over the past day and a half for excused personal reasons, will join Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Kelenna Azubuike and Andris Biedrins in the starting lineup. The group is comprised of exactly who Nellie proclaimed would be his starters on Opening Night, so it will be interesting to see them play together tonight.
Saturday, October 13 (12:52 p.m.)
Back in the Bay
Don Nelson has always been very vocal with his young players. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Following two impressive wins over the Lakers in Honolulu, the Warriors concluded their 12-day stint in paradise on Friday. Coach Nelson elected to give the players the day off from practice and the team had a 12:00 p.m. departure time from the Halakalani Hotel and a 1:30 p.m. charter flight back to Oakland. Unlike flights during the regular season, the team chartered a commercial airline for this particular excursion and had a chance to experience what a typical traveler would upon their arrival at the Honolulu airport. The players and staff had a chance to mingle with people at the airport, including many autograph seekers, and went through a long security line.
Additionally, it is customary for Hawaiian airport authority to have dogs smell for various substances that are banned from flights, including fruits. The dog on hand on this particular day was about the size of Lucky, Coach Nelson’s little pet, and of course the team had some fun with its presence. The security dog did not find anything abnormal in the Warriors’ party, with the exception of a couple of apples in the bag of one member of the traveling party.
As a side note, we asked a security representative at the airport how long it takes to train a dog for this particular job. He indicated that it takes a year to train a dog and about two years it to become extremely good and very reliable. Apparently, it is the kid of job where you can’t dog it.
Thursday’s 119-106 win over the Lakers at the Stan Sheriff Center featured another solid performance by the Warriors. It was good to see some of the young players – Patrick O’Bryant, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and Stephane Lasme – play well for Golden State. The youngsters did a nice job and certainly will benefit from the experience. Coach Nelson complimented the players after the game, although he is extremely vocal when it comes to his young players and their mistakes during the course of the action.
Nellie has always been vocal with his young players and does a great job of making an animated point during the game and following that up with a pat on the back in the locker room. The NBA is not a place for timid young men and that becomes apparent immediately when a player steps on the court. If a player does not have the strength to endure a little criticism, he will not last long in this league.
Baron Davis, who did not play in Thursday’s game, wore a wireless microphone on the bench for the Warriors in-house broadcasting department. Reportedly, BD was very engaging with his teammates on the bench, the referees and even a few fans. Baron is very receptive to doing many of the media-related requests that come his way during the season and, as one would imagine, he receives more requests than any player on the squad. Fans can look for highlights of this behind-the-scenes look at Baron on warriors.com in the near future.
Stephane Lasme was one of several Warriors players to attend the NBA's Rookie Transition Program. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Rookie Brandan Wright showed the maturity of a 10-year veteran in the locker room post-game on Thursday. When the beat writers asked him exactly what Nellie was saying to him in a rather loud tone during the game, his response was ideal – “We’ll keep that in-house. He was just trying to help me.” Such a response was a perfect way to handle the question from the media and proved that the youngster has learned how do deal quite well with the media at a young age.
Brandan was among the group of NBA rookies who attended the Rookie Transition Program in New York in late September. Part of that program deals with media relations and how to answer questions. Many of the players who enter the league today have had very little media exposure in terms of interviews, especially those who attended college for only one year or those who jumped straight from high school to the NBA. The league and its teams, however, have implemented several methods to assist the players in their dealings with the media. In addition to the Rookie Transition Program, every team in the league must conduct a media relations seminar with its players each season. In fact, it is part of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the players.
The Warriors, for example, will conduct several group sessions with their players in November and December this season. These group sessions will consist of four (4) players per group and will feature Bob Fitzgerald and Raymond Ridder (Warriors PR), who will cover many different topics in regards to media relations. The topics will range from how to answer questions to how to approach different types of interviews (TV, radio, newspaper, etc.). The most entertaining part of the seminar takes place when the players have the opportunity to view a DVD that contains some of the worst media-relation nightmares in the history of professional sports (players ripping coaches, coaches ripping the media, players criticizing teammates, etc.). Nothing hits home more than actual footage of “how not to do it.”
The Warriors fan base has grown tremendously since last year’s playoff success.. (photo: Monique Saenz)
Last year’s playoff success has certainly paid dividends for the Warriors and has increased its fan base on a national level. The two games in Honolulu, which in previous years had 99 percent of the crowd rooting for the Lakers, featured a large number of Warriors fans. It would not be inaccurate to say that possibly 25 percent of the crowds were cheering for the Warriors. And, if they were not directly cheering for the Warriors, they were certainly impressed with the team’s style of play.
For those of you who are curious, the Lakers were the home team for the games in Hawaii. The home team in the preseason is determined by the teams and deals they work out with promoters. The Lakers, for example, play several out-of-market preseason games each season and hire a promoter to market the games. The promoter will pay the Lakers a fee to play the games in a particular city and the Lakers will control the ticket inventory and are responsible for all of the game operations (statistics, PR, towels, cheerleaders, PA announcers, etc.).
In this situation, the Lakers will also pay the Warriors a certain fee for playing the games. Other than the two games in Hawaii, the Warriors do not have a preseason game in a non-NBA market this year. The Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii is a very good venue for a preseason game. The arena holds a little more than 10,000 fans, the locker rooms are adequate and the press accommodations are pretty good. There are some arenas around the country (which will remain nameless) that are not exactly ideal to host preseason NBA games. However, it is always good for the NBA to showcase its product in non-NBA cities.
The Warriors practiced at home on Saturday morning in preparation for their two preseason dates at ORACLE Arena (Sunday against the L.A. Clippers and Monday against Zalgiris of Lithuania).
Sunday, October 7 (1:27
Day 5 Practice Recap
Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson have been two of the fiercest competitors at training camp. (photos: Monique Saenz)
The Warriors were in good spirits on Saturday after learning that guard Monta Ellis had been released from the hospital late Friday night after suffering a sprained neck during practice. Ellis fell to the floor after attempting to split a double-team and hit his head on the hip of rookie Brandan Wright. It is always a tense time when a player leaves the practice court on a stretcher, but we were able to filter a report out to the media on Monta's status shortly before midnight on Friday (Hawaii time). The report was obviously a positive one, indicating that he walked out of the hospital on his own accord and that all tests conducted proved normal. Hopefully, we will see Monta back on the court at some point in the near future.
Monta, who was seen walking around the team hotel on Saturday afternoon, issued a statement to the media regarding his fall the previous night. He said, in essence, that he was coherent after the fall and that he had feeling in all parts of his body, but had a sore neck and a little tingling in his arms.
Prior to Saturday's lone practice, the Warriors attended a mandatory team meeting with members of the NBA's security department. Each team in the NBA must attend a similar meeting at some point during training camp. The meeting is designed to inform the players about many of the security issues that they might face during the course of the season. All 18 players attended the meeting, which was a good thing, because their wallet would have been a little lighter had they been unable to attend.
Coach Don Nelson turned Saturday night's practice over to his assistant coaches as he watched from the stands. Nellie enjoys observing on occasion throughout the season, providing him a different perspective. He was probably impressed with a practice that was high-level and intense as it was on Saturday. Assistant Coach Keith Smart said that it is hard to fathom the intensity the team has practiced with during their stay at BYU-Hawaii. "It is really hard to believe," said Smart. "These guys have gone really hard every day and we've had some great practices."
Matt Barnes looked sharp in his return to practice on Saturday. (photo: Monique Saenz)
One interesting development at practice on Saturday occurred when Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson – on opposite teams – became involved in a friendly and verbal battle as they guarded one another during a scrimmage. Davis' team was scoring with regularity and he was jawing at Jax about his team's inability to stop his squad. At that point, Jackson became extra intense and eventually screamed, "You are making me better BD" as he guarded him with a little extra vigor. Eventually, the two embraced. This is the kind of animated moments that have made this training camp extra special and productive. The players' focus and serious attitude has been incredible.
Saturday's practice was again filled with some impressive shooting performances from the likes of Austin Croshere, Troy Hudson, Kelenna Azubuike, Marco Belinelli and Baron Davis. Croshere, in particular, stood out during the scrimmage, when he nailed several three-pointers and other mid-range jumpers. The 10-year NBA veteran provides another dimension for the Warriors with his perimeter shooting ability from the center position (he will also see time at power forward). Based on this training camp, Croshere has turned many heads with his ability to put the ball in the basket and rebound. He's had a great camp.
During one 5-on-5 stretch on Saturday, a team consisting of Croshere, Baron Davis, Troy Hudson, Andris Biedrins and Carlos Powell were in an incredible shooting zone, scoring on about eight straight possessions, including three-pointers from Croshere (two), Hudson (two) and Powell. Hudson looks as though he is completely free of the ankle problems that have hindered him the last couple of seasons. He is running free and easy and putting the ball in the basket. It is hard to think of many teams that might have signed two players to veteran minimum contracts this summer that could have more of an impact then Croshere and Hudson. They are clearly not one of the top four or five players on this team, but for second-unit players, they will give this squad a ton of options during the course of the campaign. They might play a lot for certain stretches of the season and might not play a ton at other times; but they will be ready and most importantly, able, when called upon.
The shooting touches of Croshere and Hudson appear to be contagious. It makes you wonder how many teams in the league have more three-point weapons than Golden State. You could claim that the Warriors have nine players – Azubuike, Barnes, Belinelli, Croshere, Davis, Harrington, Hudson, Jackson and Pietrus – who are pretty decent three-point shooters. And, that list does not include Monta Ellis, who is an improving 3-point shooter. Also impressive is the fact that these shooters cover every position on the floor from point guard to center.
Some Warriors also stood out within the three-point line. Hudson closed Saturday's practice with a nice little shooting exhibition from the charity stripe – sinking 124 consecutive free throws. Sidney Moncrief was seen shortly thereafter speaking to Chris Mullin about a raise. Hudson said the 124 were a personal all-time best, topping 104 that he nailed earlier in his career.
Forward Matt Barnes, who did not practice on Thursday and Friday due to a sore left foot, returned to practice on Saturday. He looked sharp and moved freely.
Troy Hudson closed out Saturday's practice with an impressive free throw display. (photo: Monique Saenz)
Coach Nelson made a confession on Saturday without visiting a Church. He told the Warriors' two beat writers that he aided Stephen Jackson in his bid to win a bet with Baron Davis during the team's written exam on Friday. As noted earlier, Jackson bet Davis that he would earn a higher score on the test. Upon hearing this, Nellie also bet BD that Jax would have a higher score. What BD did not know was that the second-winningest coach in NBA history had slipped Mr. Jackson a copy of the test the night before. Only Nellie. I guess that explains Jackson's perfect score on the exam.
Prior to Saturday's practice, Baron Davis taped a special segment for the Warriors preseason TV special near the outdoor tennis courts at the team hotel. The interview was conducted by Jim Barnett and was wide-ranging, hitting on topics from last season's incredible finish to Baron's ability to take over a game and what it feels like to be in that situation.
The Warriors will enjoy their first off-day since the beginning of training camp on Sunday. However, in lieu of practice, Coach Nelson has scheduled a "team-bonding" session for the afternoon. The activity? Paintball.
Following their fun non-basketball activity, the players will attend a "Business of Basketball" meeting at the team hotel. This meeting, which will be conducted by Warriors President Robert Rowell, will educate the players on some of the business aspects of the NBA and, in particular, the Warriors. The team and the league believe it is important to let the players know what makes our business run and what is expected of them to help achieve certain goals of the organization – other than winning games. Each team in the league will have a meeting on this subject at some point during the early portion of the season.
The Warriors will practice one final time on the North Shore of Oahu on Monday afternoon before venturing over to Honolulu late that afternoon. They will battle the Lakers in their preseason opener on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Hawaii time (10:00 p.m. in the Bay Area). The game will be televised by FSN Bay Area and will be preceded by a live 30-minute pregame show that will include interviews with President Robert Rowell and Special Assistant Mitch Richmond.
We’ll be back with another update following practice on Monday. In the meantime, for another prospective on the Warriors, check out the latest Tim Roye Journal. His most recent entry features an interview with Troy Hudson.
Saturday, October 6 (4:15
Monta Ellis Injury Update
(photo: Jordan Murph)
Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis, who was injured during the team's evening practice session at BYU-Hawaii on Friday when he hit his head on the hip of rookie forward Brandan Wright during a full court scrimmage, was released from the hospital late Friday night (Hawaii time, just before midnight). Ellis left Castle Hospital in Kailua, Hawaii on his own accord with what was diagnosed as simply a neck sprain. The 6'3" guard underwent a battery of tests - including an MRI and CT Scan - which all proved normal. His status is listed as day-to-day and his availability for the team's preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers in Honolulu on Tuesday and Thursday will be determined early next week.
Friday, October 5 (6:25
Day 4 Practice Recap
Baron Davis had to laugh despite losing a friendly bet to Stephen Jackson. (photo: Monique Saenz)
Although the Warriors have now been on the campus of BYU-Hawaii for about four days during Training Camp, they really just returned to school today. Prior to Friday's morning session, Coach Don Nelson and his 18 players entered a private ballroom at the team hotel on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The room looked just like the classrooms that you and I entered on many days in high school or college. There was a lectern at the front of the room and 8 or 10 six-foot table with notepads and pens. Now, I'm not sure if we ever had a teacher with a round belly, silver hair and 1,232 NBA wins under his belt, but Nellie played the part to a T. After all of his pupils were seated, Nellie stood behind the lectern as his assistant coaches handed out a test that covered much of the material that the team had been taught during the first part of training camp. The test covered a little bit of everything --- offense, defense, play numbers, etc. The test consisted of 10 questions and the players were provided 15 minutes to complete the exam, which demanded not only written answers, but also a few offensive and defensive diagrams. A little art, if you will.
As the team bus made the drive from the hotel to BYU-Hawaii after the test, assistants Travis Schlenk, Russ Turner and Stephen Silas graded the papers. Prior to the start of practice, the results were in and Nellie addressed the team with the good....and bad news. Kelenna Azubuike and Stephen Jackson, who have both had outstanding training camps on the court, were also the standouts in the classroom. They were the only two players to score 100% on the test. Baron Davis and Austin Croshere each missed 1/2 of a question. Of course, a few players missed more then one question, but we'll protect the guilty parties.
Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis had a friendly wager as to who would earn the highest score between the two. Of course, BD was not too happy to learn that he had missed 1/2 a question and questioned the integrity of the graders. However, he later handed Jax his payment and all was forgotten. Jax simply commented "I'm just smarter" as he walked away from BD.
Speaking of Baron Davis, he has certainly enjoyed his veteran standing during training camp. As the team concluded Thursday night's practice, BD informed rookie Stephane Lasme that he expected two grapefruits and two coconuts before practice on Friday morning. 12 hours later, there was the Mr. Lasme, walking into the team breakfast with his hands full. The rookies are learning fast.
The night practice on Thursday continued to elicit rave reviews from staff members. The team seems to have a hunger and really enjoys practicing, as strange as that sounds. Several players continued to stand out, including Marco Belinelli and his shooting stroke. As we noted earlier this week, Davis and Belinelli spend the end of each practice shooting 35-40 foot jump shots. Belinelli walked away with Thursday night's contest when he nailed five consecutive shots from about 37 feet to end the session. Davis, who led the NBA in steals last season, has his sights set on leading the league in assists this year. Belinelli will certainly add to his total based on what we've seen in camp.
The players shared a laugh when shown this 1978 Sports Illustrated with new shooting coach Sidney Moncrief on the cover. (photo: Sports Illustrated)
The entire team and staff got a kick this morning when they were shown a photo of Sidney Moncrief, the team's new shooting coach, on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1978. In the photo, Moncrief is seen leaping for a dunk and has the ball cocked behind his head as the basket looms in front of him. The caption says "High on the Hogs; Sidney Moncrief leads No. 2 Arkansas." Monta Ellis, who was several years away from being born in 1978, was quite impressed with Moncrief and had no idea that he was such a good player when informed of his career accomplishments.
Mickael Pietrus, who practiced for the first time on Thursday, has looked good. His jump shots have been falling regularly and he still has his same, outgoing, fun-loving personality. He spent part of Thursday night at the home of ESPN.com reporter Chad Ford. Ford, who has worked for ESPN.com for several years, is a professor at BYU-Hawaii and has attended a couple of practices this week. Ford met Pietrus several years ago when he traveled to France as part of his annual International scouting trip. ESPN's other reporter in Hawaii, Ric Bucher, attended practice again on Friday and is expected to write a piece on the Warriors in the near future.
Baron Davis taped an NBA training camp correspondent piece for Jim Rome's TV show today after the morning practice. Davis introduced several of his teammates and front office staff and gave the viewers a report on the team's camp. The piece is scheduled to air on "Rome is Burning" at some point in late October before the regular season opener.
Rookie Brandan Wright celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday. Wright, who enjoyed his best practice of camp on Thursday, was wished happy birthday by Davis during his TV correspondent piece. The former North Carolina star knocked down several shots during Thursday's scrimmage and his athleticism and ability to get his hands on a lot of balls around the basket will pay big dividends during his career. The Honolulu Advertiser did a feature story on the 20-year old in today's newspaper, which you can read by clicking here.
Young rookie Brandan Wright turned 20 on Friday. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Coach Nelson also was a guest on Rome's radio show this morning. As a humorous side note, Nellie was twice cut off while talking on his cell phone during the initial stages of the interview, so he casually took a seat behind the front desk at the team hotel and answered the questions on a land line. After he ended the interview, a guest approached and Nellie asked him if he "wanted a free room?" It seems as though a long summer of relaxation has the Coach in a great mood to start the season.
On Saturday, the Warriors will practice only one time after four consecutive two-a-days. After practice, the team's six International players - Mickael Pietrus, Andris Biedrins, Marco Belinelli, Kelenna Azubuike, Kosta Perovic and Stephane Lasme - will tape a special segment that will air on the Warriors' special preseason show. Additionally, Baron Davis (Saturday) and Chris Mullin (today) will sit down with Warriors TV for special segments on the show. The broadcasting department has elected to tape many of the interviews in Hawaii this year in order to give fans a real "training camp feel" to the preseason special.
As noted earlier, Matt Barnes was unable to practice again today, but the x-rays that were taken on his left foot were negative. To read warriors.com's recently-posted feature story on Barnes, click here.
Thursday, October 4 (7:46
Day 3 Practice Recap
We are three days into practice and the overall feel for the club is extremely positive, almost to a point where you want to harness the enthusiasm. Assistant Coach Larry Riley called Wednesday's night practice the best second day of training camp that he has ever seen during his 15-plus years in the NBA.
During Wednesday's scrimmage, a few of the new guys shot the ball exceptionally well. Austin Croshere, Marco Belinelli and Troy Hudson were draining shots with regularity and returners like Stephen Jackson, Baron Davis, Kelenna Azubuike, Al Harrington and Monta Ellis were in rhythm, too. Basketball is a fun game when the shots are falling and it seemed as though everything was falling on Wednesday night.
Croshere is going to help this club. He has enjoyed a very good training camp and will not only provide additional shooting, but he seems to be a very vocal player who is constantly pointing out little aspects of the game to his teammates. He has the ability to stretch the defense with his perimeter shooting ability and he can rebound the basketball – two intangibles that will help him get on the floor for Coach Nelson. It will be interesting to see how often – if at all – we see a lineup of Croshere, Harrington, Jackson, Davis and Belinelli. Each of those players can shoot the three-pointer and create defensive chaos for an opponent.
Speaking of guys who can knock down the three, forward Mickael Pietrus arrived in Hawaii on Wednesday night and greeted many of his teammates and Executive VP Chris Mullin in the hotel lobby. Prior to Thursday morning’s practice, Coach Nelson asked all of the new players if they knew MP, to which Stephen Jackson quickly stepped forward and blurted out, "He's fresh, he is Mr. Clean." The chemistry and likeability of the players on this team is pretty evident by their interaction.
Pietrus, who spent the majority of his summer in France, looked in shape and was doing his usual things at his first practice – hitting three-pointers and dunking the ball. He told the beat writers that he is happy to be back with the team and that he enjoys playing for Coach Nelson.
One thing that is very apparent during camp is that this team is deep. The second unit at Thursday's morning practice consisted of Monta Ellis, Marco Belinelli, Mickael Pietrus, Austin Croshere and Patrick O'Bryant. And that does not even include the likes of Troy Hudson, Brandan Wright and Stephane Lasme. Coach Nelson might have a difficult time distributing playing time this season, but that is a good problem to encounter for any coach.
Baron Davis concluded Thursday's morning practice by engaging in a three-point shooting drill with Brandan Wright and Pat Burke. Wright does not have three-point shooting range that he would utilize in a game at this point, but he did show some surprising range during the drill, knocking down several shots from behind the arc. Wright has demonstrated very good quickness around the basket and his athleticism will allow him to eventually become a very good NBA player.
Ric Bucher of ESPN visited practice on Thursday morning and spoke briefly with Coach Nelson, Stephen Jackson, Marco Belinelli and Andris Biedrins. Bucher visited the Lakers camp in Honolulu on Tuesday and Wednesday and will post a Warriors story on ESPN.com at some point in the next two days. During his interview with Andris, he asked him what new aspect of his game we can expect to see this season and the young Latvian replied, smiling, "my three-pointer."
Coach Nelson has called Al Harrington the best player in training camp so far. (photo: Jordan Murph)
I'm not sure anyone is anxious for Manute Bol, Part ll. However, Coach Nelson did indicate after practice that he has installed a play in the offense for Andris this season. Nellie said they ran a play for Andris eight times last season and he scored on four occasions. Andris was given an opportunity to expand his offensive arsenal during an Olympic Qualifying tournament in Europe this summer and it will be interesting to see how much he can develop offensively over the next couple of seasons.
One player who won’t be able further develop his game in the short term is forward Matt Barnes, who became the first player to miss practice time during training camp on Thursday. He did not practice during the morning session due to a sore left foot and is scheduled for x-rays at some point in the next 24 hours (Update: The x-rays on Matt’s foot were negative, but he will remain sidelined for the immediate future for precautionary reasons.)
Despite Barnes being sidelined for the time being, the entire team is in great shape for this early in the season. It does not appear as though a single player is out of shape or hoping to utilize training camp as an avenue to get into shape.
Following Thursday's morning practice, which was held in an auxiliary gym at BYU-Hawaii, Nellie told the media that Al Harrington has been the best player in camp thus far. You can really see that Al is in better shape this year and that his summer weight loss is going to allow him to be better suited for the Warriors' fast-paced system. He looks like a man on a mission.
After Thursday's practice, the four rookies – Wright, Belinelli, Lasme and Kosta Perovic – recorded interviews oceanside with TV color analyst Jim Barnett. The interviews will be used during next Tuesday's broadcast from Honolulu on FSN Bay Area. Coach Nelson has indicated that the four rookies "have looked like rookies" during training camp, but you can certainly see the potential in each of them. They have each played well in stretches of camp, but Nellie is referring more to the young players picking up the system and different aspects of the game that come with their transition.
Coach Nelson will be a guest on Jim Rome's radio show on Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. Additionally, Baron Davis will shoot a brief "training camp correspondent" piece for Jim's TV show – “Rome is Burning” – on Friday.
Wednesday, October 3 (7:22
Day 2 Practice Recap
The Warriors have been practicing at the George Q. Cannon Activities Center on the campus of BYU-Hawaii. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Baron Davis and Marco Belinelli are staging daily shooting contests before and after practice, when they line up about 40 feet from the basket and shoot looooooong jumpers. Both players knocked down several of their attempts this morning. Belinelli has a seemingly effortless release, even from 40-feet. Through the first three practices, Baron holds a slight advantage over his rookie teammate.
It hasn't taken long for rookie Marco Belinelli to impress Baron Davis. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Davis has taken a liking to Belinelli in drills. He is constantly encouraging the rookie to take open shots. He realizes that he might get a lot of easy assists this season if Belinelli can be a dangerous perimeter threat. This morning during the drills, Baron continued his camp-long trend of referring to Kosta Perovic as "Number 19" and refuses to call him by his name (all in a joking sense). Kosta reminded him this morning that his name was Kosta and Baron just nodded back --- "You're number 19 in my book."
Sidney Moncrief made his rounds throughout the gym at the end of practice this morning when all players were required to shoot 100 free throws (all players have to shoot 100 free throws at the end of every practice). Moncrief looks anxious to work with the players, not only on their free throw shooting, but their overall shooting technique. Moncrief was interviewed by Jim Barnett on the first day of practice in Hawaii. Watch the interview by clicking here.
After three practices, Kelenna Azubuike has probably raised the most eyebrows with his solid play during training camp. He has made open jump shots and has seemed more assertive. Coach Nelson has changed up his rotation during practice quite a bit, but Azubuike has spent a good majority of the time participating in drills with the starting unit (BD, Andris, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington). The team is anxious to see Mickael Pietrus, who is scheduled to arrive in Hawaii later tonight and practice for the first time with the team on Thursday morning.
Last night's second practice was filled with a lot of contact drills and more running. Coach Nelson enjoys making guys run when they don't execute a play or drill very well during practice. And, to say the least, execution is not always at its best 48 hours into training camp.
Coach Nelson also credited Patrick O'Bryant following last night's practice, indicating that it might have been his best practice since he joined the Warriors. Nellie had also complimented O'Bryant's summer work earlier this off-season. O'Bryant spent much of the summer working out in Las Vegas and spent the last five weeks prior to camp in Oakland working out. It is very apparent during practice drills that O'Bryant has many gifted attributes to his game, including athleticism, the ability to block shots, his length and a nice shooting touch. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Nellie provides O'Bryant during the preseason, but the bottom line is that he is a talented 21-year old seven footer. Those guys don't grow on trees.
When not competing on the floor, Stephen Jackson has been wearing a constant smile over the past few days. (photo: Jordan Murph)
Stephen Jackson, who has shot the ball very well during the early stages of camp, continues to be the fun-loving guy who has endeared himself to his teammates. Jack, as he is called by his teammates, is constantly running around and patting teammates on the back or, in the case of Stephane Lasme, on top of the head. Lasme, who garnered a nice offensive rebound and finished with a strong basket during last night's practice, received a nice slap on the side of head after the play. This is nothing new for Jackson. He walks on the team bus every morning and gives every person a fist-hit or high-five. Not just his teammates -- everyone --- coaches, staff and players. He is one of the most pleasant individuals you would hope to encounter.
The Warriors spent a portion of Wednesday's morning practice installing a few offensive plays into their system. Coach Nelson, who allows his assistant coaches to run the specific drills, is very talkative during practice and is not a coach who likes to sit back and observe. He is always teaching and pointing out various aspects of plays if something goes wrong. He is also not afraid to stop a play right in the middle and give the team an earful if they don't execute it to his liking. Last night, a few unnamed players took a little heat. With that said, it is hard to imagine a team that respects, likes and enjoys its head coach more than the Warriors. His track record provides instant credibility and some of the little nuances of the game that he has already pointed out during training camp are pretty amazing.
Thus far, camp has been injury free, with the exception of the expected bumps and bruises. However, with the fourth practice in the last 36 hours scheduled for tonight at BYU-Hawaii, players will probably begin to feel a little exhausted by the time they head back to the hotel around 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 2 (6:55
Time to Start Practicing
The Warriors arrived in Hawaii focused and ready to start training and practicing as a unit. (photo: Jordan Murph)
The team arrived at BYU-Hawaii on Tuesday morning at 9:45 for the first practice of the season. Prior to practice, all the players ventured into a reserved ballroom and had a little breakfast. The players do not have to eat at a set time, but rather have a two-hour window when they can grab some food. It makes for a perfect chance for several of the new players to meet and find out a little about one another.
To begin practice, Mark Grabow, the Warriors Director of Athletic Development, conducted his annual conditioning test. All players were required to run 10 lengths of the floor four different times (with about 90 seconds rest in between). The players were completely exhausted at the end, but everyone made the desired time. Those who looked especially good ----- Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.
The focus of the first practice was primarily defensive rotations. Davis and Jackson were, by far, the most vocal players during the initial practice. With four rookies on the team, BD and Jax will have plenty to chirp about. Under rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the team can only have one "contact" practice per day and the Warriors will make that the second practice this evening. Wanting his team to be in top shape for the beginning of the regular season, Coach Nelson announced that the team will have four sets of two-a-days to begin camp (Tuesday - Friday). The evening practice each night will include scrimmages and contact.
Prior to arriving at the gym, Coach Nelson welcomed the newest member of the coaching staff, Sidney Moncrief, who earlier in the day was named the Warriors Shooting Coach. Coach Nelson, who coached the five-time All-Star while the two were with the Milwaukee Bucks, hugged his former player when he saw him on the bus for the first time this morning. Moncrief will not be with the team full-time throughout the season, but he will be here for all of training camp and periodically throughout the season.
Baron Davis and company will go through two-a-day practices all week long. (photo: Monique Saenz)
Following practice, the team held their first post-practice media availability of the season. Several local reporters and photographers - including one from the Honolulu Star Bulletin - attended practice, as did the Warriors' two beat writers, Geoff Lepper and Janny Hu. The most sought-after individuals after the first practice were Coach Nelson, Sidney Moncrief, Brandan Wright and Baron Davis.
USA Today reporter Greg Boeck concluded his "24 Hours with the Golden State Warriors" after practice on Tuesday morning. The story is scheduled to run in tomorrow's paper and has been allotted an entire page that will also include several photos. In addition, there will be additional text and photos online at usatoday.com beginning on Wednesday.
The players were very receptive to having the USA Today reporter and photographer with the team over the last 24 hours. It is not very often that a media outlet is granted behind-the-scenes access (flights, team dinners, etc.), but the players and staff were happy to have them around. They all understand that this will be good national exposure for the team, and that it will be read by millions of people at airports, hotels and home on Wednesday.
Weather has been a little overcast and windy, but still warm, and it provides a great chance for the players to sweat and get into great shape.
Stay tuned for more blog updates, photos and exclusive video straight from Hawaii!
Tuesday, October 2 (11:55
Welcome to Hawaii
Team captains Matt Barnes, Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson are making sure that the 2007-08 Warriors will again be a loose bunch. (photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
ALOHA!!! Coming at you from Oahu, Hawaii, the home of the 2007 Warriors Training Camp. The Warriors left Oakland at about 3 p.m. on Monday on a chartered flight on Aloha Airlines, roughly 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time, and arrived in Hawaii at about 5 p.m. local time.
Forty-four passengers boarded the flight, including Greg Boeck, a reporter from USA Today who is doing a behind-the-scenes story on the team – “24 Hours With The Golden State Warriors.” The story will likely run in either Wednesday’s or Thursday’s edition, so we will keep you posted.
A couple noteworthy bullet points from the five-hour flight:
Head Coach Don Nelson and Assistant Larry Riley broke their own unofficial record by playing cards for the flight’s duration.
Equipment manager Eric Housen, who has been with the team since the 1985-86 season, said that the amount of luggage on this trip was the most he has ever seen.
Upon arrival, the entire team and staff were greeted by Hawaiian residents, who presented everyone with a lei. No matter how many times you go to Hawaii, that kind of a welcome never gets old.
From the airport, the team then had a one-hour drive along the scenic coast of Oahu to the North Shore, where the team was staying at the Turtle Bay Resort. Baron Davis, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, who have been named team captains by Coach Nelson, kept the bus alive with their jabber during the entire trip. Last year’s Warriors team was known to be a loose and humorous bunch, and judging from the bus ride, not too much has changed on that front.
In between all of the jokes and laughter, Jackson attempted to soak everything in. This is his first-ever trip to Hawaii, so he spent a lot of the drive looking out the window and taking in the beautiful scenery.
Like Jackson, several of the Warriors are making their first Training Camp with the Warriors – 12 players to be exact. In fact, only four Warriors players were on the team during the last time the team had Training Camp in Hawaii in 2005 (Davis, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Mickael Pietrus). Speaking of Pietrus, the team was happy to hear that he had accepted the team’s qualifying offer and would join them in Hawaii in the next day or two.
After checking into the team hotel, the Warriors held their annual pre-training camp team dinner. Nellie and Jackson addressed the team in a short and sweet meeting. Earlier in the day, all players were provided a copy of the team’s playbook and also a handbook which detailed the team rules.
One of the great things about having camp in this location on the North Shore is the lack of distractions. With no real night life in close proximity – Honolulu is about 45 minutes away – the players get the chance to spend a majority of their time together. They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, which is great for team unity and great for a team with six new players.
Hopefully, the players got a good rest last night because prior to today’s practice, Mark Grabow, the team’s director of athletic development, will run every player through a series of wind sprints. This test will determine who is in good shape and who still needs some work. Fortunately, several players have lost weight during the summer and the entire squad appears to be in excellent condition.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for much more behind-the-scenes coverage of the Warriors at Training Camp in Oahu.
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