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Oakland native Damian Lillard understands city residents unhappy with Warriors move

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Portland point guard Damian Lillard is part of the great line of NBA players that grew up in Oakland (Gary Payton, Bill Russell, Paul Silas, Hall of Famer Jim Pollard). Lillard grew up going to Warriors games — his dad had season tickets for three seasons when the most games the team won was 21 — at a time a family could easily afford to go to games.

Next season, the Warriors will leave the loud confines of Oracle Arena for a new building in the city, a move up into the expensive part of town.

Lillard has heard from his friends and family in Oakland and they’re not happy about it, he told Mark Medina of the Mercury News.

“They’re upset about it. It’s one of those things where success comes and you’re going to up and move,” Lillard said. “A lot of the real Warriors fans, a lot of times they can’t go to the games. They can’t afford it. At that time, we were able to go to the games. Nowadays, a really good ticket is way more expensive to do everything. The people who are real Warriors fans aren’t able to get into the games…

“The Warriors are going to San Francisco; it’s just crazy to think about it,” Lillard said. “That’s such a big part of my childhood.”

The NBA would not be the first business to trample nostalgia in the name of profits. It will not be the last.

People struggling to afford good tickets to an NBA game is not a Warriors or Bay Area phenomenon. It’s league-wide for good teams (or when good teams come to town). While the NBA and teams work to make some tickets available at an affordable price nightly (high up in the building, behind the baskets), most tickets are far pricier. It was estimated a few seasons ago that taking a family of four to an NBA game — with average tickets, parking, hot dogs, a hat or shirt souvenir — cost $400, and for teams like the Warriors, Lakers, Knicks, and others it’s much higher. On the secondary market for struggling teams it can be more affordable, but it’s not cheap.

Why do teams charge that much? Because somebody (or somebody’s company) pays it. The NBA is a business and people are buying the product. Teams will charge what the market will bear. The Warriors sell out nightly, the Lakers sell out nightly, and… you get the idea.

The Warriors are moving into a new building in San Francisco next season that will essentially print money for the owners (which matters to them, their payroll is going to spike in the next few years). Oakland got priced out of the game.

The NBA is like a lot of American businesses in the past few decades, finding more profits but leaving nostalgia and some communities in the dust. People in Oakland will still be Warriors fans, they will still wear Stephen Curry jerseys, but it will not be the same. And the days of Lillard’s family affording season tickets to an NBA team easily are long gone. They have been for a while now.

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.