Klay was already drenched in sweat + Zaza is a great interview: MFMTM (moments from morning til midnight) at SCW-Ignite then Hornets-Warriors

More Steph pregame absence, the LaMelo-Wiseman furor that didn’t happen

It was a late morning start and I got out of Chase Center by 11:11PM, not midnight or near-midnight as usual, but I think after 12 hours of both Santa Cruz and Golden State Warriors coverage, the former of which involved a lot of stressful livestreaming which took a toll on my energy, it certainly qualified for a MFMTM (moments from morning til midnight) recap.

As I look back now, my recap of the day will differ greatly from everyone else’s. Although I grew up a contrarian and built the foundation of the LetsGoWarriors brand on Twitter from about 2013 to 2017, I’ve found myself deviating from the masses yet again and thanks to YouTube and Discord and Substack, this type of “alternative recap” is kind of what LGW is all about, you know?

Them: Gary Payton, Jr. proved he belongs and Jordan Poole broke out of his slump.

Me: That pregame Klay Thompson-in-full-regalia was really the second and third acts of a full workout and, oh btw, DubNation’s diehards love them some off-the-grid G League preseason action!

Santa Cruz Warriors: Moody & Kuminga

It was a bit of an inefficient hassle yet a cool experience to get to the Chase Center main court via the East Entrance. I can think of no cooler way to arrive courtside than hanging that left at the top of the stairs, then a little zig-zag to your right, past the regal-looking J.P. Morgan Lounge and down the escalators and voila, you find yourself walking through the tunnel that drops you to the left of the visitor’s bench. The first part of my video of the pregame warmups shows this:

The funny thing about it is I bet there actually is a better way to get to courtside somewhere in this best-arena-on-the-planet! In any case, it turned out that any inefficiencies getting through security and looking up your credential worked out for the better because there were some noticeable delays to the actual SCW vs Ignite game caused by the stanchion on the Warriors’ side of the bench not being level. While my video shows the beginning of warmups happening with Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, Chris Chiozza and the rest of the Santa Cruz squad warming up on the side of the good basket, then shortly thereafter, the teams switched later on and SCW spent the delay just sitting and waiting on the bench.

Bob Myers even came out onto the floor to personally oversee the delayed proceedings. When the crew had finished using their leveling devices, the rim still seemed a bit tight, but to my knowledge there were no complaints during the game. It didn’t seem to affect the Warriors-Hornets game that night, either. Then again, maybe no one complained because if you’ve played enough basketball, gym rats at one point or another are going to encounter a court where one rim seems more stiff than the other. It’s become par for the course. Not even the NBA is immune to this. This was not the first time I’ve seen a basket being heavily worked on in an NBA arena before a game.

Observations of the SCW game

The G League rule of only shooting one free throw until 2:00 of the fourth quarter is actually a Godsend to the fan experience, but I’m not sure it should extend to the NBA because in the NBA we’re generally happy to see our celebrity superstars on the floor as much as possible, even during dead free throw time (I’m a proponent of speeding up the time during timeouts and halftime, though, which they’ve done over the years, presumably — GSW even got called for a delay-of-game coming out of a timeout later that night).

I was asked on the livestream — more on this later, below — and on more than one occasion which prospect I’m most excited about. I love Moody’s steady approach and he plays like he’s a seasoned vet which belies his actual age of just nineteen, but it is without question the athleticism of Kuminga that I relish seeing.

My favorite move of the night was when he got downhill in transition and took two enormous Euro steps, only to draw a foul at the rim. To see that up close is just jaw-dropping. That’s an indefensible move, other than by fouling, and very Giannis Antetokuonmpo-like, and come to think of it, maybe Giannis can defend that. I never ended up writing the “Kuminga angst” article that was supposed to come out after the Draft, and after an impressive Summer League the angst of “JK” being picked 7th seemed to greatly wane among the “naysayer sect” (read: #WarriorsTwitter) of DubNation, but the whole premise of my piece was that the average fan typically does not get the opportunity to see these NBA bodies up close.

When you’re a gym rat like I am, you see at all levels from middle school up through high school and AAU then college and Summer League including international players, a better read on the scale of size, length and athleticism. When you see a guy 6’8” who can move on the floor and cover ground like JK can, with the requisite foundation of some skill and timing, you absolutely cannot pass that up if that drops to you (at, for example, No. 7).

Now, JK was actually listed at 6’7” on the hard-copy roster this game, but up close he sure seemed as tall as Jordan Bell, who is listed at 6’8”. I should say JK did lose a jump ball against 6’10” Michael Foster, who by the way had a very impressive game for Ignite.

It’s really too bad Kuminga will only get so many reps. Think about it. He played over 30 minutes in the SCW game, yet there was only that one opportunity to show off his downhill freakish athleticism. The good news is, he still managed to score double-digits without being too flashy, much the way Andrew Wiggins “falls out of bed” (a favorite quote of Steve Kerr’s and, really, other Warriors players like Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have alluded to similar metaphors last season) and scores 20 points. [Aside: I noticed earlier this season Kerr used the metaphor again but mentioned Wiggs with 18 points, which I think is a direct indication of Wiggs’ role reduction on offense, because normally everyone has always used the number “20”.]

JK was also very unselfish and appears to be completely bought-in to #KerrSystem’s read-and-react philosophy. There were even a couple times when JK had a slight size advantage in the post, yet he dished back out for the sake of moving the ball and getting motion. And, like his first NBA bucket four nights prior, his first shot attempt was a swish from beyond the arc.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Moody is just as intriguing and certainly more serviceable right now off the GSW bench than Kuminga. My words won’t do Moses justice. He just does everything well. I continue to allude to him as Andre Iguodala 2.0, the modern version of basketball’s Swiss Army knife, just with more of a bent on shooting and maybe less athleticism, but his poise defies his age. And Moses will be a foundation of the franchise for years to come, just as Kerr has said. It’s also fun to hear “‘Moody!” being shouted on the court by both teammates and opponents. Makes you wonder how teammates and opponents yell out Andre’s name. Is it “Iggy”? The fans certainly use that as I saw not only pregame this night, but also back in Sacramento:

Finally, Chiozza was super-solid with a high number of assists. What a pickup by Myers, although Kenny Atkinson, who was Chiozza’s NBA coach during a stint with the Brooklyn Nets, deserves credit for the acquisition. “Cheese” is just a no-nonsense type player, perhaps limited by his height and lack of athleticism at the NBA level. The two-way seems, indeed, to be a fair contract as he can seemingly step into any G League situation and be an instant floor general, if this Ignite game was any indication.

Remember Nico Mannion? The “going more vet” movement extended to him, as well, and the result is Chiozza. It all makes sense now. I’ll write about it later, as Payton deserves his own article, but the recent successes of both “GP2” and Chiozza (and a little bit of Juan Toscano-Anderson, as I’ll write in a different post) have thus far fully justified the move away from a backup rim-runner or lob threat — think Poor Man’s JaVale McGee — for both the first and more important two-way spot and the 15th roster spot. Again, I brought this up way, way back.

The livestream on YouTube & Zaza/Shaun

If you missed the game and want to see JK, Moody, Cheese or even 6’11” Chinese prospect Fanbo Zeng (did not have a good game with zero points), I actually livestreamed it here:

You can also check my notes from the game here. Fun fact: Eddie Stansberry (6’3” pg, First Team Big West out of the University of Hawaii) was acquired that morning from the Texas Legends, who had drafted him 7th overall in the G League Draft.

I’ve known Stansberry’s middle school AAU coach for years. He played in my Dream League Bay Area recreational basketball league, as did Stansberry’s brother. I’m not sure why the Legends waived Stansberry after the Draft (did they owe SCW a favor?), but credit Santa Cruz once again for making moves on a guy who has a nice local story. Stansberry was born in San Francisco and played at Archbishop Riordan High School. Can he be the next Toscano-Anderson or Payton II? We shall see.

The entire coaching staff including Kerr, who sat near where Joe Lacob usually sits, was present for the game, dotted mostly along the Warriors’ baseline. I had intended to stop the livestream at halftime because aiming the iPhone at the action is actually quite tiring. If you picture a bird’s nest full of baby birds squealing for food, you can imagine all the little comments on the YouTube chat asking for the score to a meaningless game — that was a lot of physical work and I kind of don’t want to ever livestream a game again. There were even tons of complaints about the video being blurry at the start of the second half, yet I could see no such thing on my phone and it was likely the arena WiFi, which I also had no control over. Social media is full of entitled people! 🙄

But then again we had up to 750 concurrent users. That’s by far the most we’ve ever had and I don’t really know, but Coach Nick of Bballbreakdown once told me he did a stream that garnered 200 concurrents, so I assume 750 was good; Nick has around 800k subscribers! Again, we had viewers chime in from all over the world. I started seeing comments pouring in in Chinese, an strong hint that they were interested in Fanbo, whose name I inserted in the title for obvious reasons. So anyways, I had no intention of streaming so much plus normally with NBA or G League broadcast rights, you can’t do so, but since this was a un-broadcasted preseason game, closed to the public, and I was getting such incredible enthusiasm on the chat, I kept going. And yes, I even continued to type in my comments on the live thread with my free hand. Sooo tiring! Still, I should acknowledge the many, many commenters who thanked me for it. I’ll never forget it. A real highlight of my career as LetsGoWarriors.

Zaza and Hilton at halftime

So halftime came around and I was literally almost falling asleep, not from the action on the court but from the mental exhaustion of live-streaming the game and commenting on the game, looking up player names on the hard-copy rosters and the stats being handed to me on the hard-copy box scores. I decided I needed to get up out of my seat. Let’s go say hello to Zaza Pachulia and anybody else I could find. Live!

If you’ve listened to Pachulia, you know he’s a fantastic interview and a wonderfully positive and reflective person. I initiated conversation about his Georgian-made Crosty brand shoes, which apparently exude a ton of his homeland pride and a huge reason why he invested in the company. On various Instagram posts of he and his wife, I had seen them post food from Georgia and one time, I noticed some fried dough-y thing resembling my native Chinese green onion pancake, so we got to discussing that. Zaza said their version includes cheese, which I find fascinating. I think I may have also finagled a standing invite to the country of Georgia out of it, too. We shall see!

We finally got to talking about Klay and I asked the million-dollar question that’s been brewing on our private Discord server, which is free to paid subscribers on this website, hence the obligatory button:

Should and will Klay change his number this season to 77, which started as a joke to the NBA 75 list?

True to the NBA’s most superstitious players — and Thompson is one of them, of course — Zaza told me that the No. 11 has been good to Klay and so he’s not likely to change it, although the reasons for doing so (competitive fire for leaving him off the NBA’s 76-best players of all-time comes to mind) make sense.

I plan to splice the interview out of the livestream, but if you want to watch it, guesstimate it at around halfway of the entire stream.

I also interviewed Hilton Armstrong, whom I’ve known since the summer of 2009, and later said hello to Shaun Livingston after the final buzzer sounded.

Pregame Hornets-Warriors

All that bled into the pregame of the Hornets game and I didn’t even get a chance to walk the three blocks to Starbucks to get some Frappuccino-based caffeine. Luckily I had brought some leftovers from home as my in-between-games meal.

Upon arrival to the media room, I noticed that for the first time in my tenure since 2013 as season-credentialed media, I had a designated seat and placard waiting for me, right next to the legendary Connor Letourneau of the SF Chronicle. Also, NBC Sports Bay Area had a backdrop setup on the other side of the room. I had heard Kerith Burke go on the air via Zoom after the Grizzlies game from that small space and there’s even a huge monitor for their use plus a big light. Yet another innovation borne out of the COVID era.

There was a PR-made flyer for about Tim Hardaway nearby and he was on all the TV screens. Similar to the NBA’s 75, the Warriors are honoring their all-time greats at each home game. Tom Gola and Cazzie Russell were the last two. I’m not sure who PR had for the home opener, but I’ll try to find out. And on that note, I wonder if they’ll leave out Latrell Sprewell again. He was the one notable omission from the Blue Mile hallway in Oakland, especially when you consider that Chris Webber is included there. But it’s understandable. PJ Carlesimo is still an active participant in NBA stuff, so it’s a little dicey. Maybe the prudent thing to do is wait until Carlesimo fully retires before plastering Sprewell’s name around Chase.

Anyways, I’m a huge fan of Hardaway so I made a bee-line to the Bill King room, where I’m not allowed at the pregame or postgame Q&As with Kerr due to NBA media COVID protocols, to take a video clip of the life-size screen showing Hardaway and the Warriors’ logo, the backdrop for the Zoom calls.

It was a good thing I did that, because on the way out of the room, Klay was heading to the court. And he was drenched in sweat, so he had already done a workout — possibly the Achilles rehab version, who knows — downstairs at the Oracle Performance Center.

I immediately started filming, although Klay was at the far court in front of the Hornets bench, where later I would film Payton II working out at [Aside: I’m planning on doing a GP-only article so look out for that.]

The NBC Sports Bay Area camera man removed his TV camera from his industrial-strength tripod and headed over and I waited to see if he would get yelled at by Klay, as I’ve written before that in 2019, he angrily yelled at an NBC cameraman and myself not to film him (after I caught him pretend-DJ’ing). It seemed like Klay would be okay with getting filmed this time, unlike recently downstairs, but I kept my distance.

He later moved to the Warriors’ side as the rim got checked and approved again, and the reporters raced to be the first to post on Twitter 🙄 I’m sorry, I will forever eye-roll this because their combined efforts probably garnered at least a million views on Twitter and none. Of. Them. Got. Paid. For. That.

Without going into a rant once again about how shitty Twitter is on literally all fronts (not just the user side where people are addicted to being outraged), let me say respectfully that I get it. I get why a reporter kneels to the power of Twitter. After all, Woj and Shams are at the top of the career food chain on it. The higher you are on the food chain, the more zeroes are at the end of your paycheck. And that’s the key thing: reporters are generally paid a handsome sum, regardless. So the rush to be the first to tweet Klay shooting pregame in full new-black-Warriors-uniform regalia, I get that. It’s almost required as part of their job (but fyi: technically it isn’t! And the effect of a retweet is kind of overrated). But it’s just still funny to me that (a) Twitter ought to pay people who generate six-figures of views, but they get away with not having to, and (b) well, everyone is in a rush to tweet and read tweets when getting the news an hour later really isn’t that big of a deal; we are seeing the same issue on our Discord server as well and… I’m sorry, it’s just funny to me this rush to be first all because of two guys named Woj and Shams!

The worst part about Twitter is this: there are quite a few YouTube channels out there that just copy reporters’ videos and put them on YT’s monetizable platform. I’ve even done that sometimes, although it’s because I don’t have footage myself and I always credit and, again, the reporters are still getting paid by their respective employers. So by that notion, I’m glad reporters do post videos. I just wish it wasn’t on that vile app.

But to think that all this icing-on-the-cake revenue isn’t happening for reporters, that kinda sucks. I’ve actually talked to a few of them about this, the rampant copying of Twitter content — even postgame interviews — on YouTube that gets monetized by somebody else, but it’s too hard to manage and the addiction to Twitter seems insurmountable. That’s also why I try not to allow the reverse. I try to prevent LGW content to be posted on Twitter for free, which has resulted in me being the “most hated” Warriors media member on that wretched platform, although the fact that I ran LGW as an optimist’s view as well as fiercely defended Kerr and Myers and Kevin Durant and any other Warrior that was thrown under the bus at any given time by #WarriorsTwitter, started the wheels turning towards “most hated” long ago.

Oh, for the record, technically my video of Klay walking through the tunnel was actually the first video of Klay:

Sigh. Only 34,000 views combined from the three Klay clips I posted (one was super-late as I forgot I had it on my phone and was uploading other views constantly), but at least I still get paid in the aggregate by YouTube. Very small in comparison to the reporters, but it’s something and it does put food on my table.

And finally, I caught Klay’s workout-finishing dunk (i.e., “third act”), too. It was on our Twitch. More about Twitch some future date, hopefully.

Steph missed the national anthem (again)

Well, all this and I’ve been writing and proof-reading now for close to four hours before the sun rises and I haven’t even reached tipoff of the Hornets game.

Curry was later deemed as “under the weather” in the postgame by Kerr and he missed the national anthem again, heading to the locker room. You can actually see him leave somewhere in these two minutes:

Is there a correlation to him being under the weather and his absence from the national anthem? I have no idea. I can’t even remember all the variables that went into my pregame rituals when I played in high school. I’m not even sure if I had rituals. Steph definitely does, but you’d figure nature can call at any moment.

Our live commentary with Rebecca

I asked Rebecca Licht, our most-tenured LGW content producer, sports management student at NYU, and often our live commentary host, to provide a quickie recap and she said this: “GP2 destroyed Kelly Oubre and kept picking everyone's pocket, Jordan Poole hit seven threes and was the most outwardly emotional I've seen, and Dray, Steph, and Andre showed more veteran leadership by involving others as they led the team in assists.”

As for me, the loss of Oubre’s (massive, yikes, MJ!) salary slot seems like ancient history, and painless at that. The addition of just a couple of shooters can really alter chemistry, can’t it? But come on, if you’ve ever played at the local Y, you should know this! I’m sure the nitpickers on Twitter will find something in hindsight Myers should’ve done prior to this haul of Otto Porter and Nemanja Bjelica on minimum contracts, though.

I can remember Kerr do a fist-pump after GP2 snuck in for the second time under the hoop for a bucket via pass into him, and Iguodala doing a lot of campaigning with refs on behalf of Poole and Green, using his usual “shrug” 🤷🏾‍♂️ approach. I’m also just happy LaMelo Ball had a “meh” performance, otherwise we would’ve heard the James Wiseman naysayers come out in full force. Maybe they already did on Twitter? Idk, I’m off that app these days and it’s been like kicking a bad habit. Feels great. You should do it, too.

One thing I’ll say about the live commentaries, which serve as an alternative to listening to Fitz and Kelenna on the air (or TNT or ESPN, depending), unlike Twitter we are able to shape and influence some of the (dumb/snap) comments that we get. I guess maybe there’s something actually cool to getting mentioned by Rebecca by video on the livestream, like you got recognition that seemingly all social media commenters thirst for, but even through instantaneous written chat conversation, we’re able to get viewers and commenters to change their point of view, and largely in a more positive manner.

That flies in the face of Twitter, as I recall from our years of livetweeting the stubbornness of Twitter users and their penchant for doubling down on every outrageous claim they make. On YouTube, despite the occasional flippant remark you always get on any free social media platform, it’s just… better.

It was actually nice to see a recent paid subscriber named Mark come to the following similar independent conclusion: “it’s slowly devolved into a horrible-content-hosting and B.S. amplification platform, but there’s still a few good peeps worth following out there.”

The postgame tunnel had E-40 sparkling again, Poole did radio from the scorers’ table, and GP2 did the postgame interview, where I was told he prefers the nickname “Young Glove”. That sounds like the best one to me and I’m all for that. I also recall Draymond spending more time with fans in the tunnel, seemingly doing more of that this year.

In the postgame interviews via Zoom and out of my reach in the Bill King room, GP2 stayed on long to get a question from San Jose State journalism students on the call, which is not something you see from the average NBA player. I’m sure I could’ve come up with some question to extend the content just a little bit more, but by then my tank was an “E” and I still hadn’t compiled the notes & quotes article. That’s a good thing to remember for the future: GP2 is more than happy to do media availability and I think it’s a reflection of how truly grateful the 28-year-old is to reach this point after five years.

I know this was a long read and didn’t really touch on the game, which did get touched on thoroughly in my Hornets game notes & quotes, but I still plan to do some short-burst articles coming up (hopefully, barring unforeseen circumstances).

Another subscribers-only Warriors Beats post from the last practice is around the corner as well.

In the meantime, come join us on YouTube. It’d be great to increase our average of like 25 concurrents each game. I’m also posting behind-the-scenes clips aka “Stories”, YT’s copy of Instagram’s feature, from wherever I am, even more so than on IG itself, which is because that’s also a non-monetizable platform like Twitter.

Alright, one more hour of sleep and I should be good to go for today’s morning shootaround plus pregame, in-game commentary, and postgame vs the New Orleans Pelicans…