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.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.