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.

Nets claim to ‘mutually part ways’ with head coach Kenny Atkinson

Liz Roscher | Yahoo Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have made an unexpected move. On Saturday morning, they announced that they were “mutually parting ways” with head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Assistant Jacque Vaughn will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the Nets’ season.

Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement about Atkinson’s ostensible firing.

“After discussions with Kenny about the progress of the season, we mutually agreed that a coaching change would be in the best interest of the team. This was an extremely difficult decision, however the organization believes it is one that is necessary at this time.

“Kenny was instrumental in developing our players and building the identity and culture we have become known for over these past four seasons. The foundation he helped put into place here is one that we will continue to build on in the coming seasons. We are forever grateful for all of Kenny’s hard work and dedication to the Nets and the Brooklyn community. Kenny, Laura and the Atkinson family will always remain a part of our Nets family and we wish them nothing but the best in the future.”

Atkinson, a former college and international professional player, was hired by the Nets in 2016 after spending almost a decade on the coaching staffs of the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks. He has a 118-190 overall record with the Nets. Despite significant injuries to their roster this season, Atkinson has coached the team to seventh place in the East with a 28-34 record.

So why was Atkinson fired? It’s not clear, but there are reports that players weren’t happy with him.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are the Nets’ biggest stars. If they’re not happy, you can bet that things will change.

See also: Kenny Atkinson’s tenure with Nets comes to surprising end, as sources say Kyrie Irving prefers Tyronn Lue to take over

Kevin Durant admits he still utilizes ‘burner accounts’ on social media

Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS

A couple months after the Warriors won the 2017 NBA title, Kevin Durant got caught using a burner account on social media.

You all probably remember the specific tweet:

“I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter,” KD explained a couple of days later. “I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic, all those type of words. I apologize for that.”

So he no longer uses a burner, right? 

Wrong.

“I’m still gonna to do the burner thing. I’m still gonna do that,” KD said recently on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “Yeah. For sure. Certain people — I’m gonna come back on my regular account.

“But, I got the burner (laughing). I just slipped up that one time. We know why I slipped up (laughter).”

We aren’t gonna speculate on the “why,” even though based on the video above we have a pretty good idea what he’s referring to (laughing).

So heads up — if you criticize the two-time NBA Finals MVP on Twitter and somebody sends you a reply, you just might be interacting with KD himself.

Kevin Durant is finally running 8 months after his Achilles injury

Andrew Joseph | USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s been just a few days shy of eight months since Kevin Durant went down with an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with Golden State.

And while the Nets have essentially ruled Durant out for this entire season as he continues to recover, the two-time NBA Finals MVP seems to be ramping up the intensity in his current rehab progress.

During Tuesday’s practice in Brooklyn, reporters got a glimpse of Durant running at near-full speed and then trying to throw a football for good measure. The running part was great to see. The throw … uh … could use some more work.

An Achilles injury typically requires at least six months of recovery time — and in basketball where an Achilles tear can cause a major performance drop-off, it’s often longer.

But at the very least, Durant looks to be on schedule with his rehab and moving well. Nets fans will like to see that.

Former NBA players come to Kevin Durant’s defense against Kendrick Perkins

Mike D. Sykes, II | USA TODAY SPORTS

The NBA is certainly a fraternity of some sort, because what a fraternity without some type of beef.

On Thursday night, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant went at it on Twitter. Now Kendrick Perkins is receiving blowback from all sides of the NBA world.

If you missed the Perkins-Durant feud, the current ESPN analyst sparked a dialogue by saying that Russell Westbrook is unquestionably the best player to have worn a Thunder jersey. When Durant chimed in, Perkins ripped him for going to the Warriors in “the weakest move in NBA history,” and questioned the legitimacy of Durant’s two rings.

Gilbert Arenas came to Durant’s defense with an entire dissertation about why Durant was correct in leaving, why RINGZ culture is toxic and a whole bunch of typos. Yes, I read the entire thing. Yes, my eyes do hurt.

Basketball’s OG Charles Oakley also came to Durant’s defense, telling Perkins not to be like his dreaded nemesis Charles Barkley.

Matt Barnes also came to Durant’s defense as well, saying that everyone was entitled to their opinion but no one can deny Durant’s greatness.

Perkins actually responded to this one! He chose the “well, he started it” defense (which, technically, isn’t true).

Somehow, Perkins is cooking up a lot of beef this season. I, for one, am enjoying it. Don’t know if it’s him being on TV or if he was always just like this.

Either way, keep this party going big guy.

UPDATE: Perkins responded to all of the criticism on The Jump on Friday.

WATCH: Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie snubs Kevin Durant, leaves him hanging for the high-five

Ralph Orense | CLUTCH POINTS

The Brooklyn Nets earned an impressive win against one of the West’s powerhouse teams, beating the Denver Nuggets 105-102 to improve to 13-10 for the season.

Kevin Durant is happy to see his teammates playing well, especially Spencer Dinwiddie who finished with 24 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant tried to high-five the young fella during the final seconds of the game, but Dinwiddie snubbed him.

FLASHBACK…

Durant isn’t expected to play this season as he continues to recover from the Achilles injury he suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. However, he has been present during all the Nets’ home games to show support for his teammates.

NEW FULL INTERVIEW: Kevin Durant aka Easy Money Sniper Returns With Q & D Knuckleheads

Easy Money Sniper is back for his second run in on Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. KD gets right into it with details of his injury — why he felt unstoppable the night it happened, what was going through his mind, and how he feels about the entire affair.

He and the guys then get to his free agency, discussing why he left Golden State and what was appealing to him about Brooklyn, as well as his thoughts on the NBA’s most dramatic personnel changes for the 2019–20 season.

Kevin also gives his opinion on former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden teaming up in Houston, and tells Q and D-Miles why he’s so excited to watch them play together. If you want an expert opinion on today’s players, KD gives the lowdown on which of the younger guys he’ll be watching this year and what he likes about their games.

He also touches on player movement in the NFL and why he believes it’s a good thing for the league. The three then hash out what went on with Team USA not winning gold at the 2019 FIBA World Cup before reaffirming their conviction that the U.S. is still the preeminent basketball nation in the world.

Then they get nostalgic, remembering some of their favorite basketball moments, and Kevin breaks down the games of some of his favorite players in NBA history. To finish he ranks his all-time top five teammates, and also tells the guys what he plans to do after he retires.

There’s no better way to tip-off the new NBA season than by listening to one of the greatest in the game share some of his basketball knowledge.