Warriors owner Joe Lacob on Steve Kerr: ‘I knew him through friends — and through golf, quite frankly’

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The Warriors fired Mark Jackson, because he didn’t fit.

They hired Steve Kerr, because he did.

I believe both those moves were made without any malicious intent and without considering race. But that doesn’t mean race didn’t play a factor.

Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group and David Aldridge of NBA.com have already written thoughtfully about the role of race in the firing of Jackson, who is black. Given how the Warriors and Kerr, who is white, have discussed their courtship, the issue should not fade silently into the background without further consideration.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who is white, via Sam Amick of USA Today:

“I knew him through friends — and through golf, quite frankly,” Lacob said of Kerr. “I’ve been on golf trips with Steve before, so I know him socially for many years. He’s best friends with one of my best friends and some other people, so I’ve known him, but not necessarily that close or that professionally as has been portrayed.

“He is certainly somebody who we have always liked, sort of a great, intelligent guy. So he was on our list, and when we decided to make a change he was on our short list of people who we wanted to talk to.”

Kerr, via Tim Kawakami of Talking Points:

And I’ve known Joe actually a long time through a mutual friend, a venture capitalist in the Bay Area. So we’ve been on golf trips together.

The familiarity for sure was helpful and it helped everybody relax and just sort of… be themselves.

This is how racism manifests itself.

What percentage of black families relative to white families have opportunities to belong to the type of golf clubs Lacob belongs to and plays at?

For a long time in America, country-club membership was exclusive and limited by ethnicity. Even as those walls are falling as society becomes more tolerant, that past racism still lingers as all clubs tend to attract members with previous connections, and those connections can trickle down generations.

There’s also the issue of wealth, a requirement for access to the nation’s top golf courses. Through discrimination, blacks have been denied access to housing, schools and jobs — opportunities to accumulate wealth. Without that in, blacks have fewer opportunities to make impressions on those, like Lacob, in position of power.

Personal connections matter. There’s no denying that. Kerr’s hiring proves it.

Kerr might be incredibly qualified and absolutely worthy of the job. I’m not suggesting otherwise. But his prior relationship with Lacob got his foot in the door and helped him rise to the top of the search.

When there are multiple qualified candidates, those connections matter. Kerr had a tiebreaker other candidates like Lionel Hollins did not.

There’s no easy solution. Lacob is entitled to have a coach he’s comfortable with.

Perhaps, the best solution is introspection during situations like this – Lacob consciously evaluating whether factors, even ones out of his control, have led to bias due to race. That would help ensure the Warriors have the “best” coach, whatever that means to Lacob.

Maybe that happened here. I’m not privy to Lacob’s internal dialogue.

But for Lacob to wantonly discuss his and Kerr’s friendship through golf suggests it didn’t.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.