Jay Williams blames media speculation for Kevin Durant leaving Warriors; Stephen A. says ‘so what’

Jay Williams blames media speculation for Kevin Durant leaving Warriors

Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS

Buckle up folks. 

This is about to be a bumpy ride.

On Tuesday, an excerpt from Ethan Strauss’ new book “The Victory Machine” led to quite the stir on social media. In case you missed it:

KD wasn’t impressed and accused me of trying to “rile up Steph’s fans.”

He expressed that this was a constant theme in the Bay. All of us local guys just wanted to kiss Steph’s a– at his expense. This was KD’s consistent lament. He would frequently squabble in direct-message conversations with the Warriors fans of Twitter, frequently accusing them of favoring Steph at his expense.

So naturally, ESPN’s morning show “First Take” discussed this topic Wednesday morning. And here is what Jay Williams — who has spent a lot of time with Durant and works closely with him on ESPN’s digital series “The Boardroom” — had to say:

“As much as the media speculated about whose team it was — we act like players don’t listen to what we have to say. A lot of these players are fans — they watch shows, things trickle into the locker room — it creates awkward situations between players.

Things that people say. Bob Myers — after they won a championship — when he says, ‘Stephen earned it, right?’ And you saw Kevin give a weird reaction. Or if you ask Steve Kerr who’s in control here and he’s like, “I don’t really know.’

“When people give you insight into those tidbits, those things then get blown up to a different degree that the media then speculates on. So I’ll get back to my original point about this — as far as Tim Cook can take Apple, Apple will always be Steve Jobs.

“And I think that a lot of fans saw that this will always be Stephen Curry’s team, even though Kevin Durant got back-to-back [NBA Finals] MVPs and you know that he’s the better player.

“So I think the media — the more time (that goes by) — as guys win and they win championships, the media, we’re like, ‘Well what else can we talk about? What else can we find to make this interesting? Oh, it seems like there are challenges.’ 

“And I think those challenges naturally throughout the course of time — that every team faces, but for teams that win at a high level — get blown out of proportion. And I think we saw that trickle into the locker room and that led ultimately to this team separating.

“That’s the realness and that’s the fact of it.”

Wait, wait, wait, wait. What?!

I don’t even know where to begin.

It certainly sounds like Williams is saying that — as a member of the media who constantly speculates — he partially is responsible for KD leaving the Warriors. Let’s remind everybody about what the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft said the morning after the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference finals:

I saw something last night — and I’m not speaking for him (Durant) — but for me, it kind of bothered me. Stephen Curry was on the free throw line (late in the third quarter) and granted Steph is an incredible player, he’s MVP-caliber, two-time MVP. Take a listen to what the fans were cheering…”

The show then cut to a clip of the Oracle Arena crowd chanting “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”

And that bothered Williams?

“It’s like, ‘OK, could this ever really be my team?'” Williams answered. “I feel like if you’re a basketball player, you know that’s Kevin Durant’s team. But from the outside looking in, fans still see it as Stephen’s team. And I don’t care what anybody says, that has to sit with you in some kind of form or capacity.

“He’s back-to-back Finals MVP.”

That take was ridiculous then and always will be. And even if we take Williams at his word that he wasn’t speaking for the 10-time All-Star, then we at least can apply his logic and assume KD got wind of what he said and let it impact his perspective, right?

[RELATED: Swaggy P admits Durant would let the media get to him]

As Williams also said Wednesday morning: “So many people have agendas.”

That is correct.

L.A. mayor, health experts doubt sports will be played in front of fans before the fall of 2021

Los Angeles mayor says coronavirus will likely halt sporting events with crowds until 2021

JUSTIN WISE | THE HILL

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said Wednesday that mass gathering such as sporting events and concerts will likely remain canceled for the rest of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking on CNN, Garcetti confirmed an earlier report that he was considering barring such gatherings for at least one year. The mayor said it’s “difficult to imaging us getting together in the thousands anytime soon” and the city should prepare for an extended ban on such crowded events.

“I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Garcetti said. “I think we all never wanted science to work so quickly. But until there’s a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention or herd immunity, the science is the science, and public health officials have been very clear. We’ve got many miles to walk before we’re going to be back in those environments.”

Garcetti suggested that sporting events and concerts without crowds could be a possibility in the months ahead. But he emphasized that it would be “very difficult to see” packing thousands of people into a stadium before 2021.

“Nothing I’ve heard would indicate that we’ll been in large thousands of people gatherings anytime soon and probably not for the rest of this year,” he added. 

The U.S. has reported more than 630,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and roughly 27,900 deaths caused by it as of Wednesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The outbreak led major sporting leagues last month to cancel their seasons and a broad range of musicians to postpone tours.

President Trump late last week began more aggressively pushing for reopening portions of the economy, as signs show some areas are passing the peak of the outbreak.

Still, health officials have insisted that more comprehensive testing and contact-tracing must be in place before states and cities lift social distancing requirements. 

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert and a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Tuesday that pro sports could return this summer as long as fans were restricted from attending.

Resume sports? The idea sounds more realistic with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s blessing

Dan Wetzel | Yahoo Sports

Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in America, leagues, teams, coaches, players, fans, television executives, media, sports talk show callers, internet message board geniuses and so on have been racking their brains for how to get them to return … safely. 

Ideas have been plentiful. Implementation nonexistent. Even attempting to stage an event under heavy restrictions, the way UFC president Dana White tried using a casino on isolated tribal land in California, with no fans and significant precautions, has been met with resistance, criticism and eventual cancellation.

White is a very successful and fearless — to a fault sometimes — businessman, but he didn’t have the credibility to sway opinion and make UFC 249 a reality this weekend.

Now comes someone who most certainly can change minds, a former high school basketball captain (Regis in New York City, 1958) and devoted baseball fan (Washington Nationals) with an opinion rooted in science, unaffected by personal financial gain and not viewed through a political prism.

Hey, Dr. Anthony Fauci, can we play some games soon?

“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci, America’s point person on the pandemic, said on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” Show

This is the single biggest development in the potential return of sports since the pandemic broke. 

Fauci’s blessing on a proper plan (whatever it may be) can alleviate local concerns, provide political cover and turn the discussion into how to do this safely rather than just argue about whether anyone should even try.

Fauci agreed with what has emerged from the non-infectious disease experts among us as the most attainable, if still logistically challenging, plan. Specifically: One location for the games. No fans in the stands. Players, coaches, officials and television broadcast crews separated into hotels in a pseudo-bubble until the season is over.

The NBA playoffs from the MGM Grand? The NHL out in population-low but rink-rich North Dakota? MLB at a slew of spring training facilities in and around Phoenix?

Doable, according to Fauci.

“Nobody comes to the stadiums,” Fauci said. “Put [the athletes, coaches, etc.] in big hotels, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well-surveilled, but have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their families and just let them play the season out.”

Officially, the NBA, NHL and MLB remain in a suspended status and will only say that they are considering numerous contingency plans in the hope of getting the games and their businesses back. 

“Nothing’s been ruled in,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Nothing’s been ruled out.”

Part of that is because there remain so many unknowns — will testing improve, will treatments improve, will warm weather curb the spread of the virus, etc.?

President Donald Trump has started a task force with numerous sports leaders seeking a way to get the games going again. He complained Tuesday he was tired of watching “baseball games that are 14 years old” on television, the lament of just about every sports fan.

The issue with getting the games back as they are normally staged isn’t up to the president or a league commissioner. Playing games in dozens of different locations leaves things up to the whims of local health officials and politicians, who may be dealing with different levels of outbreak. 

It also requires travel and the challenges and expense of keeping so many arenas open. 

While using a single location or city with participants isolated from the public as much as possible is a massive undertaking, it seems easier and safer than going back to normal. You’d need only one locale to approve.

Is there the will for such a thing? There hasn’t been yet.

White attempted to stage a fight card this Saturday but was asked to stand down by his broadcast partner, ESPN, when the backlash and concerns became too significant. That was last week. Things can change quickly. White is now pointing to May 9 as the date for UFC 249, trying to fulfill his vow to be the first sport to return. Maybe he pulls it off this time.

What if the country can turn the corner? Does this get increasingly plausible in, say, late June? 

Does some place such as Las Vegas welcome the chance for the NBA to overtake the MGM Grand, the nation’s largest hotel with 6,852 rooms (lots of workers) and an arena attached to it, sort of like an extended NCAA subregional?

What if none other than Anthony Fauci is behind it?

Can the NHL do the same? How about baseball? Football — both pro and college — may be impossible under these conditions, but in a time when trusted voices are in short supply, the doctor’s comments were significant.

This is Dr. Fauci, not Dana White, even if they seem to be saying, and hoping to attain, roughly the same thing.

Health expert doubts sports will be played in front of fans before the fall of 2021

Dan Wolken | USA TODAY SPORTS

At least one prominent public health expert does not believe sports will be played in front of fans until the fall of 2021. 

Speaking as part of a New York Times panel discussion about how to re-start America amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration on health policy and the Affordable Care Act, said he did not think large gatherings would be possible until after a vaccine is widely distributed in 12-18 months. 

Emanuel, the older brother of former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel who now chairs the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the American economy would have to be opened up in stages, beginning with workplaces that can maintain more social distancing practices.

But he was less optimistic about playing football in big stadiums, for instance, as the NFL and colleges would like to do this fall if possible. 

“Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility,” Emanuel told the Times. “I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, during his news conference Tuesday about how to reopen businesses, said it was unlikely that mass gatherings, such as sporting events, could be held this summer.

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” he said.

Emanuel pointed to colleges and universities as potentially one of the areas of society that could re-open more quickly if testing and contact tracing measures are readily available, pointing to the lower virus’ lower mortality rates — “not zero, but pretty damn close,” he said — for people under 30.

That could potentially point to an avenue for college football to be played without fans, though obviously there would be concerns about coaches and other officials involved in the games. 

“I don’t know how else we’re going to do it, frankly,” Emanuel said. “You can’t just flip a switch and open the whole of society up. It’s just not going to work. It’s too much. The virus will definitely flare back to the worst levels. So I think you are going to have to do segments. Again, this requires testing and tracking, so you reduce the risk of the infection spreading, even if it doesn’t come down to zero.”

NBA Community Mourns Karl-Anthony Towns’ Mother, Who Died Of COVID-19 Complications

“Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced,” a family statement said.

Kimberley Richards | HUFFPOST

The NBA community sent its love and support to Minnesota Timberwolves player Karl-Anthony Towns after his mother, Jacqueline Towns, died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19, according to a family statement released by the Timberwolves. 

“Jackie, as she was affectionately known among family and friends, had been battling the virus for more than a month when she succumbed on April 13th,” the statement read. “Jackie was many things to many people ― a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.”

“The matriarch of the Towns family, she was an incredible source of strength; a fiery, caring and extremely loving person, who touched everyone she met,” the statement said. “Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced.” 

She was 58, according to The Associated Press

Last month, Towns, 24, revealed in an emotional video on Instagram that his mother was in a medically induced coma after showing severe symptoms of a coronavirus infection, including a high fever and difficulty breathing. He encouraged viewers to take the virus seriously and to practice social distancing

“This disease is deadly,” he said in the video.

Prior to sharing his mother’s condition on Instagram last month, the NBA star announced that he would be donating $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.


“Thank you to the Mayo Clinic workers and all healthcare workers who are working around the clock to treat us,” he said in a statement. “You are our heroes.”

Towns’ father, Karl Towns Sr., had also contracted the coronavirus and has since recovered, according to the family statement Monday. 

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry shared his condolences on Twitter Monday. 

“Praying for you and your entire family @KarlTowns,” he tweeted. “Aint no other words man I’m so sorry.”

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul sent his thoughts and prayers on Twitter, too, on Monday. 

Other members of the basketball community publicly shared their support for the Towns family:

Poll: Sports fans won’t attend games without coronavirus vaccine

Kelly Cohen | ESPN

The sports world has been at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic for roughly a month, and despite the widespread eagerness to restart games, a majority of Americans said in a recent poll they would not attend sporting events in person just yet.

Some 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business.

When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.

Only 12% of all respondents said they would go to games if social distancing could be maintained, which would likely lead to a highly reduced number of fans, staff and media at games. For example, fan capacity for a Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers game at Staples Center is around 19,000.

The poll shows that the coronavirus pandemic would affect sports for the foreseeable future, even if some resume.

Just 13% of Americans said they would feel comfortable attending games again the way they had in the past.

“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll. “Those who identify as sports fans, at all levels of interest, line up closely with the general population in regard to their own safety and that of the players.”

According to medical experts, there might not be a coronavirus vaccine until 2021.

A compromise could be found in having games with no fans, an idea that garnered sufficient support. More than three-fourths — 76% — said they would watch broadcasts of games without fans and do so with the same amount of interest they had before the pandemic. Only 16% said they would be less interested, but 7% said they would be more interested.

Though there has been discussion of games without spectators, nearly half of respondents — 46% — said they think sports will be canceled through the end of 2020.

Steve Kerr reminiscing about Warriors’ dynastic run amid coronavirus halt

Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS

It was Steph Curry on the fast break throwing a blind, over-the-shoulder pass to Kevin Durant for the easy dunk.

It was Andre Iguodala stripping Damian Lillard or LeBron James and igniting transition offense.

It was Klay Thompson running through a maze of screens before getting the perfect pass from Shaun Livingston and firing one through the net.

We’re 24 days into this cycle of sports nostalgia — it’s all we have in the absence of live events — and rarely does a day pass without images of recent Warriors supremacy flashing across TV/computer screens. Fans are allowing themselves to reminisce. So, too, is the coach.

“That was pretty special era, with special teams,” Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “The one thing that has always stood out to me, whether I was a part of a special team as a player or coach, or a fan of a special team, is that It’s not just wins and losses. It’s the style, and the connection with fans.”

The Warriors entered 2019-20 coming off the most impressive five-year run in NBA history, compiling a 322-88 record, for a .785 winning percentage. The three championships and five consecutive trips to The Finals are well-chronicled.

But the level of mastery on display is, in retrospect, nothing less than startling.

“There’s been this incredible momentum and connection with our fans over the last five or six years, and it’s tough to match that,” Kerr said. “Some of that is due to the incredibly high level of play. People come … that’s what they want to see. Whether it’s like seeing a rock band at the height of their powers or an artist, it’s the same concept. They just want to see something beautiful and experience something beautiful. That’s the connection.”

It was Draymond Green squaring up to defend James Harden and stripping him for the steal.

It was Durant, staring down LeBron and then walking into a top-of-the-key 3-point kill shot.

It was Andrew Bogut slyly slipping an exquisitely timed pass to Curry and diving toward the rim.

“I always thought Bogut was one of the most underappreciated parts of our team,” Kerr recalls. “Those first two years, his passing, his dribble-handoff game, his defense, his working with Draymond on that end … Bogut was incredible. Just an incredible basketball player, and he complemented that group perfectly.

“And then the team kind of morphs, different guys coming and going, and it’s still really about Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andre. But you see these key figures come in. Like David West, playing 15 minutes a night and picking people apart. It was beautiful to watch.”

The Warriors posted successive seasons with 39-2 records at Oracle Arena. Regular-season records piled up: 73 wins, 54 straight home victories, 34 road wins and 24-0 to open a season.

The shooting was superb, the ball movement wizardly, the defense ravenous. Above all, there was a visible synergy that often resulted in sequences that appeared choreographed.

It was Kevon Looney switching out on DeMar DeRozan and giving up nothing. It was JaVale McGee catching lobs, maintaining a presence in the paint and resuscitating his career. It was Zaza Pachulia setting a perfect screen or dropping a bounce pass backward between his legs.

It was Curry single-handedly destroying a defense, Green single-handedly stifling an offense.

“Even within that five-year run, the core was the same, but there were different guys who provided different things, different dynamics to our team,” Kerr says. “That was the apex. I don’t know that we ever reached a higher level as a group than we reached 2016, when we won 73, but the ’17 team was the best because of Kevin. Just the unstoppable nature of having the ability to always go to him anytime we needed to. That team was just devastating.”

Perhaps no accomplishment was more impressive than opening the 2017 postseason with 15 consecutive wins and becoming the first team to hang a 16-1 record on its challengers. They won closeout games by an average of 18.5 points.

One game, however, sends Kerr practically into a dreamlike state.

After coaching Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kerr stepped away to cope with unrelenting physical discomfort. Lead assistant Mike Brown took over, and the Warriors posted a tight (119-113) win in Game 3. Win Game 4 and the sweep is completed.

“Our first quarter was almost unfair,” Kerr recalls. “I think we scored 40 points.”

Make it 45. The Warriors rolled to leads of 14-0, 22-3 and 35-9 before closing the quarter with a 45-22 lead and eventually coasting to a 128-103 rout.

“It’s like we had everything going,” Kerr says. “JaVale was getting dunks because (the Blazers) were so worried about all the shooting on the perimeter. We defended like crazy. That game just felt unfair.”

Indeed, it did, as did many others over a five-year span that might be better appreciated in hindsight and will be exceedingly difficult to equal, much less surpass.

Because God Won’t Give Us More Than We Can Handle, Michael Jordan Docuseries The Last Dance Will Now Premiere in April

Jay Connor | THE ROOT

Our prayers have been answered.

With the coronavirus condemning us all to our couches indefinitely, the world as we know it will never be the same again. Thankfully, ESPN has stepped up to be the hero we need during these perilous times and announced that its highly anticipated 10-part docuseries, The Last Dance, will debut on April 19 instead of its original June release date.

The Last Dance puts Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls under the microscope and according to The Athletic, it will air on ESPN every Sunday night from April 19 to May 17—two episodes at a time.

With professional sports leagues experiencing an unprecedented work stoppage that has turned ESPN’s programming schedule into a nightmare, this isn’t a perfect replacement, but it’s a damn good alternative to watching nothing at all.

“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience,” ESPN said in a statement. “We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that.”

ESPN continued, “This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”

Considering some of our favorite shows and most-anticipated movies have either been canceled or derailed entirely by this pandemic, who do we have to thank for this timely miracle?

Fans have been clamoring for weeks for ESPN to move up the date, and during a recent appearance on Richard Jefferson’s Road Trippin’ podcast, LeBron James echoed their sentiments.

“If they release that thing right now? The views on it?” James said. “Listen, if I’m Michael Jordan, I’m going in there and I’m making a conference call and I’m like, ‘OK, what’s the reason that we’re going to hold on to it until June now? Compared to now when everybody is at home?’ Because it’s done [being edited]. It’s done. Yeah, it’s done.”

And as for the new release date, it’s safe to assume that it’s been met with universal acclaim.

Much like everyone else, I can’t wait to revisit my disdain for all things Michael Jeffrey Jordan—anyone care to remind him that my team, the Orlando Magic, gave him that work in the ‘95 NBA Playoffs?—and that the 19th can’t come soon enough.

Check out the extended trailer for The Last Dance below…