SAN FRANCISCO – When the Six-Degrees-of-Sacramento came to an end Saturday night at the Chase Center, where Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé made a surprise appearance at the Golden State-Memphis game that included coaching his vacant head for two primary finalists. position, his team still didn’t have a new coach. But that didn’t mean the surreal scene was fascinating to watch unfold.
At midcourt of the Warriors’ 142-112 Game 3 win, you had ESPN analyst and former Golden State coach Mark Jackson on the microphone – as always – along with Jeff Van Gundy. On the Warriors’ sideline, assistant head coach Mike Brown has been playing the same pivotal part he has had for the past six years on this Steve Kerr-led program. And not far from the Grizzlies bench, Ranadivé enjoyed the game on the baseline with his daughter, Anjali.
The Kings connections, present and past, didn’t stop there, either. Former Kings coach Luke Walton was in attendance, as was Alvin Gentry, the coach who replaced him in an interim fashion when he was fired in late November. Both men are former Warriors assistants and, thus, part of the same Golden State tree that Ranadivé has been fixated on since his days as a minority owner with the organization. (That chapter ended for Ranadivé when he became the lead owner of the Kings in 2013.)
Sources say neither Jackson nor Brown was aware that Ranadivé was planning to attend, so it was unclear if there was any substantive meaning to the visit. What’s more, sources say neither Brown nor Jackson was offered a job as of late Saturday evening. As our Shams Charania reported on Friday, Jackson has already been interviewed for the Lakers’ coaching job as well.
With the Kings’ decision between the two men expected soon, and fellow finalist Steve Clifford appearing to be in a distant third at the race at this point, maybe Ranadivé’s appearance was a case of him wanting Brown and Jackson up close. As he crystallizes his own view of their respective candidates. Or, of course, he may have been living vicariously while plotting for the day when the playoffs return to Sacramento.
After all, it has only been 16 years. And another coaching decision awaits.
Phoenix’s ‘Revenge Tour’ continues
Full disclosure, I’ve always been intrigued by the mental aspect of a would-be championship run.
Beyond the obvious desire to taste champagne at the end of it all, you find that players and coaches often have very unique motivations that compel them to keep pushing during the playoff run that can be so utterly exhausting. In the case of the Suns, the inspiration that unites them is rather obvious: Their NBA Finals loss to Milwaukee last July.
It wasn’t just the fact that they fell to the Bucks, though. In case you may have forgotten, they were up 2-0 before being obliterated by Giannis Antetokounmpo and losing four straight. In terms of the emotional element of the Finals experience, the only thing worse – in this armchair psychologist’s opinion – would be losing in a Game 7.
From this vantage point, the most memorable evidence of this fact was there for all to see in the 2013 Finals. A quick review: San Antonio was up 3-2 on Miami, only to see Ray Allen’s yellow-tape 3 rip the Spurs’ hearts out in Game 6 before the Heat won it all in Game 7. From that moment until the Spurs avenged. Losing against Miami in 2014, Gregg Popovich was brutally honest about how much hurt he had fueled them.
But in my experience, players are more than willing to be honest about the pain they may have felt in falling short. And who can blame them? Rehashing it all, one can surmise, only reopens the wound.
So when the Suns star Devin Booker was referred to as a “revenge tour” this season after Phoenix’s win over Dallas in their Western Conference semifinals series, I was struck by the statement that the 2021 Finals nerve, so to speak, was still raw. General Chat Chat Lounge
“Yeah, I kind of let that slip,” he said with a smile afterward as we chatted in the Footprint Center hallway.
Booker, whose Suns dropped in Game 3 in Dallas and will take a 3-1 lead in Game 4 on Sunday, shared a few more thoughts about his admission as he headed for the exits.
“That’s the biggest hurt in our careers, especially up 2-0 and then dropping it,” said Booker, who is averaging 23.3 points (48 percent shooting overall, 50 percent from 3-point range), five assists and 4.3 rebounds. against the Mavs, told The Athletic on Wednesday. “So, you channel it the right way, and we understand that it happens, (but) it’s the deepest hurt of our careers. And now, we have another chance at it.
“We feel that hurt. It’s something that you’ll never get over. Even if the day comes when I get one, you’re gonna look back and be like ‘I should’ve had two,’ you know what I’m saying? It’s one of those situations. “
The natural next question came next: Have you watched the video of the Finals loss or avoided it completely as a way of sidestepping the miserable memory?
“Yeah, I’ve seen it plenty of times,” he said. “I watched the highlights of it more than the full series, but I watched it.”
A slice of Oracle at Chase
First things first, let’s make this clear: Chase Center is not Oracle Arena. Not even close.
It’s an architectural marvel, and the crowd is very passionate about their warriors in ways that don’t require an ounce of shame. But nothing will ever match the unadulterated chaos and elation that so often bounced off the walls of that legendary Oakland, Calif., Building for all those years before moving to San Francisco in 2019.
As Draymond Green recently made clear, the comparison is just not fair. Oracle was a one-of-a-kind place.
Yet for those Warriors fans yearning for something – anything – from the Oracle days that make it all feel a little more familiar now that their team has crossed the Bay, there’s this: The delightful Curtis Jones, the famed Steph Curry assisted man for his The legendary tunnel shot and longtime usher, is up to his old tricks again.
As Jones told me on his way out, he was teaming up with Curry again these days during the pregame routine that he became the stuff of basketball lore. But instead of the tunnel shot, which is not possible in this landscape, Curry is relying on the oldest Splash Brother to find them all in a variety of places and around the floor.
“(Saturday), Steph shot from one end (to the court) to the other, standing about 10 feet outside of the end of the bleachers,” Jones said. “And he almost made it tonight. When he warms up at the other end, he comes back with the ball, tosses it to me, gets in position; I get in position and give him an underhand pass, and then he goes from there.
“Earlier this season, he was shooting the ball over the glass in the back. So, when he finished his warm-ups, he ran back towards the locker room, and he waved his hand, and I saw him and tossed it to him. And then, he went from there to the suites (near the deep corner of the court), and he shot it from the suite area to the basket, and then now, we’re going from one end to the other. “
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(Photo of Devin Booker, Monty Williams and Mikal Bridges: Kevin Jairaj / USA Today)
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