In the 6th chat of this season, we talk about the significance of "players only" meetings and whether it could help the Warriors. We close by talking about Jeremy Lin's d-league assignment and if this is good for him and the team.
Welcome to the weekly NBA Chats between contributor Brian Chung and Eric Perdiguerra! Week-to-week they breakdown some of the biggest headlines in Golden State Warriors Land and the NBA, including important topics such as Stephen Curry's ankles to Shannon Brown's 10-karat engagement ring to now fiancé Monica, the R&B singer. The off-court drama is just as important, if not informing how things play out on-court.
But before we get started, the weekly introductions:
Eric Perdiguerra, dj, streetwear clothing designer, and, most importantly, bay area sports historian. Eric's got archives of sports knowledge you might as well call him a microfilm. His fandom is so strong and unwavering he even has an Antawn Jamison Warriors away-jersey with the lightening bolts down the side...that is actually worn-out and worn out (in public)! If that ain't dedication, I don't know what is.
Brian Chung is a hopelessly devoted Golden State Warriors fan who misses Alton Lister, Rony Seikaly, and Larry Smith. He prays that the early ninteen nineties bay area sports dominance will return soon, which the A's, Giants, 49ers, and the Golden State Warriors will all be playoff-bound teams, again, in the same year. Brian also is a regular contributer to Golden State of Mind, the SB Nation Golden State Warriors blog.
The third week into December marks our sixth installment of the chat wrap. Time certainly flies, like a Kevin Love chest pass. Last week we chopped it up a bit about Lebron's homecoming to Cleveland and the not so warm reception he received. Since then Miami has been able to pile on six more wins on top of that, nine straight victories altogether since a loss in Dallas led the Heat to close its locker room doors to all other personnel and have a "Players Only" meeting. All nine victories have been of the double digit variety, and none of them were closer than the scores seem to display. This includes a trip to Oakland complete with guest broadcaster, writer/ columnist/ esteemed sports guy Bill Simmons, a demonstrative performance by #6 and #3, and the creative sellout crowd who sported signs like a photo of Delonte West and a sign with Lebron dressed in drag and the words "Queen James" sprawled across it. Wade even went down early to an Biedrins elbow, which was as inadvertent as a Biedrins made free throw, but he was able to return shortly and the Heat were able to withstand a spunky Warriors effort to put them away midway through the 3rd. Yes, the THIRD. The Warriors seemed to show much promise early in the season, spurning much chatter about the 7th and 8th seeds and a blanket of confidence that this team was in many ways much better than last season's version led by Don Nelson. Since a home win versus Detroit about a month ago, the Warriors have been 1-12 in probably the roughest portion of their schedule.
So what do you think B, is it time for the Warriors to have a players only meeting?
B: What exactly is a "players only" meeting? What happens at a "players only" meeting? The only thing I think of when I hear "players only" is R.Kelly's song, which features R.Kelly and The Game having some rest and relaxation on top a yacht with video vixens grinding all over the place.
If that's the kind of meeting (filled with R&R) that the Miami Heat had to get them on this winning streak, then, YES, the Warriors need get on that!
E: Can't exactly argue that. Haha. Similar events of course being, the Player's Ball, The Player's Holiday, and Bingo Night at the Player's Club. Apparently playoff caliber teams who are playing well below expectations hold these meetings reserved for the talent only in attempts to right the ship. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post described these meetings as forums for players to be honest with each other about issues and frustrations they might have that are distracting the team from playing to their utmost ability. Given the Warriors struggles as of late, doesn't this qualify as a perfect time to have this kind of pow wow?
B: After reading that article by Hochman, seems like the Warriors need a "players only" meeting everyday. But Melvin Ely's comments seem to tell me that a players only meeting might not exactly work well with the Warriors:
"I was with San Antonio, and we had a players-only meeting. And you can be for (darn) sure that we didn't lose much after that.
"I played for the Clippers. Had a players-only meeting. Still lost."
Tim Duncan versus Chris Kaman. Tony Parker versus Baron Davis. Manu Ginobili versus Eric Gordon. The kind of player personalities seem to differ drastically and you have to wonder to what extent the brilliant coaching by Greg Popovich has rubbed off on how these players think about accountability on and off the court. Something tells me a Warriors player meeting might end up more like the Clippers, meaning more losses. But maybe I'm underestimating the new blood on the Warriors? Considering how (championship winner) Vladimir Radmanovic called out Monta Ellis and other "stars" publicly for not practicing hard, I'm wondering whether some of the Warriors can handle it. Thoughts?
E: I definitely see the difference there. Maybe one of the hardest parts of transforming a team like the Warriors into a playoff caliber team is changing the attitude and the culture. There won't be a players only meeting because the urgency just won't be there. This is how it's been, this is how it will be and anything drastic and out of the ordinary to try and right the ship just probably would not be effective. What are they going to say? Hey, Dre you'd be a force if you just tried to make your free throws and stay out of foul trouble. Monta, I don't think you trust your teammates enough to help you with the scoring load. Hey, Steph, what's the deal with your ankles?
Maybe players only meetings are for teams that are being held back by just a couple of personal issues that just need to be aired out and talked over. Whereas in cases with teams like the Warriors and Clippers, there would be too many issues to resolve and there just wouldn't be enough pluses to be effective. There's just too many problems to tackle at once without the help of the coaching staff. Teams like the Heat and Blazers that just hit speed bumps in the road, can come togeher, huddle up, and get themselves in the right direction, along with the other 15-18 teams with playoff aspirations.
B: Urgency? I guess that brings up the problem of whether losing 7 in a row demands a sense of urgency. Or is there no ‘urgency' at all because this season is just about coach Keith Smart re-programming the Warriors to play "normal" basketball? Either way, there needs to be a sense of urgency I think with this Warriors team, considering how they were disrespected by the Jazz this week, getting hit with playoff fouls in what was already a blow out during that 4th quarter Jazz run. There's got to be a sense of pride when people are hitting you like that.
But I would agree with you, there doesn't seem to be a clear leader on the team who's able to lead by example. Nor is this squad built with enough talent, skills, and athleticism. Training Biedrins to NOT shoot hook shots like Shaquille O'Neal shoots free throws seems to be an impossible task. How do you correct a guy who's hands are not meant for shooting ... in a sport where using your hands skillfully is the norm (not to be confused as a ‘talent' for big men). How do you think a Warriors team-meeting would go down if people started accusing each other with the questions you posed above? Fight? Confusion? Crying? Would they hug it out afterwards?
E: Early on during the positive start (which now seems so long ago) there was definitely chatter surrounding the camaraderie of the team. And if all of that is true, I would think a players only meeting would be the perfect place to find out who your leaders are. They should just take the team bus over there to Merritt Bakery and let it all hang out. There would probably be a little bit of everything from finger pointing to practical jokes, to a Grey Goose personal. But if it all initiates some brainstorming, some more trust within each other and the system Coach Smart is trying to install, and some more well needed confidence in each other as teammates, then I don't see how a players meeting would not be beneficial. Granted I agree the problems with this team seem much deeper than that, but any step in the positive direction is a humongous step.
Even during halftime versus the Heat, and Miami was only up by 3, ESPN broadcasters reflected on the potential this Warriors team had, including referencing their own Triple Threat they have in Curry, Lee and Monta. I guess I can't help but go back and forth with the 2010-2011 Warriors. I too have endless questions and issues with this team. Are Curry and Ellis dynamic enough offensively to overcome their short comings on defense? Do Amundson and Udoh provide enough depth to the front court? Can David Lee play to the All Star caliber form he was traded for? Can Dorell Wright somehow manage to build some consistency to his surprisingly lethal yet streaky game? Does the system that Keith Smart is trying to install suitable for the group of players currently on the roster? Who's going to get traded first? Monta? Gadzuric? Bell? Interesting stuff to think about considering who would be involved if the Warriors indeed had a players only meeting.
B: Haha. Grey Goose for the center formerly known as "Goose." I think you're right, though. Judging what looks to be another kind of "players meeting", Grey Goose has been the drink of choice for the Warriors for a short minute.
But I'm thinking these guys will go to Chinatown for the meeting. Seems like in movies, the characters always end up eating some sort of Chinese food -- whether it's take out straight the box or dine-in with random plates of grease. New Gold Medal, probably. But Shooting Star, maybe, for the snacks.
But yeah, those are definitely good questions to ask at a "players only" meeting. One of the good things at least is that no one on this team has a "superstar" attitude ... or rather, no one should have one. Most players on this team look like they've got things to prove in the NBA, so nobody should get too defensive.
E: The best part is when the whole team starts heading into the locker room and as the last couple of guys head on in, Brandan Wright starts closing the door. He stops Tom Abdenour in his tracks and says, "Sorry Tom, players only."
B: HAHA. Poor Tom, he's been bandaging up ankles and knees for decades, he's practically a player "in spirit." I wonder if players would say the same for Brandan Wright. As Wright walks in, Dan Gadzuric says to him: "Hey man, who are you? The opposing team lockeroom is down the hall." Considering that the guy has barely played 82 games over a 4 year span, I would wonder who this tall lanky guy was.
Do 10-day contract players have to ... or rather, get to attend these meetings?
But jokes aside, it seems as if we're both in agreement that the Warriors "culture" needs to change first, if not the player personnel, for a "players only" meeting to work. Whether or not it's purely skill and talent (i.e. teams like the Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups or the Spurs with Duncan), maybe the Warriors need to watch the local feel good movie "Coach Carter" for some inspiration. Without some sort of leadership -- and by leadership I mean some honest self-reflection even from ‘superstars' as Melvin Ely re-accounts his time with the Spurs -- this team is going nowhere.
E: Well said. So what do you think? I'm sure a victory at home against Minnesota will ease some worries for a moment. But should the team hit another losing streak do you think a players only meeting is the answer? If not, then what would this team need to do to turn things around?
B: Well, I know from our conversations earlier that the Warriors have hit a rough patch not only getting reprogrammed by Keith Smart to NOT play Nellie-Ball but with the injuries. Some pretty basic things they could do is learn to draw some fouls and just as important, make the foul shots. Getting beaten on average 10 points a game on free throw attempts AND made is something they can clearly control. Charge calls is an easy fix and you can tell opposing players watch their tape as they sit waiting for Ellis, Curry, or whoever right outside the restricted area (see last night's game). For the most part, there seems to be a lot of minor mental errors, like general court awareness or bad passes, that can be easily dealt with like piling up on charge calls. This won't necessarily produce wins, but at least I won't be yelling "oh my gosh" every few minutes when I watch Radmanovic telegraph a pass, see Monta get a charge call 2 possessions in a row, or see Biedrins bobble a dump pass in the post.
To close out our weekly chat, lets talk briefly about Jeremy Lin's alleged pending d-league assignment now that the Warriors have Acie Law in a backup point (versus the Timberwolves, 9 points on 3-4 shooting). What do the Warriors get in Law that they don't get in Lin? And is this d-league assignment a sign that Lin was a failed PR experiment? What is your sense as a fan or from other fans?
E: I'm trying not to make too much of the resurgence of Acie Law in his second stint with the Warriors. He did ignite the offense (not to mention the crowd) with realy gutsy bench play. But he's got to definitely show a little more against better opponents to accept his ‘resurrection'. Unfortunately, that's where Lin takes the hit. He should at least take advantage of his current opportunity. You know, learn as much as he can about Keith Smart's offense, hit up Sabor on Thurdsays, Infusion Lounge maybe, Bijou in Hayward, and let the groupies know the #7 train is about to leave the station.
B: Hahaha. From his bay area groupies to the new ones he's going to meet in Reno at the Silver Legacy and Circus Circus. Beware of the Pai-Gow Tables, Jeremy! You know they'll be waiting for you there.
Like any rookie point guard, Lin is struggling to be the leader. But Acie Law's few extra years of professional experience clearly show how that extra time has helped him make decisions out there. I think Lin will benefit from the d-league and I bet he'll get the call up, just in time for Asian Heritage Month in April!
Which makes me wonder if the Reno Bighorns will try to capitalize on his Asianness and also throw an Asian Heritage Night. Will fans still give Lin a rousing standing ovation anytime he does anything?
That's all the time we have for today, but we want to know what you think about Lin's pending d-league assignment. And whether a player's only meeting would happen with the Warriors, what it could bring, and how you think it would go down!