Tag Archives: golden state warriors

‘This is the Most Inexplicable Story in Sports of the Last 20 Years’

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Matt Giles | Longreads | October 2017 | 7 minutes (1,769 words)

When Erik Malinowski was wrapping up the proposal for what would eventually become Betaball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in Historyhe happened to spot the latest cover story for the New York Times Magazine and his heart nearly stopped. The feature, written by Bruce Schoenfeld in March 2016, detailed the rise of the Golden State Warriors through the guise of its front office and the team’s devotion to analytics and data, which sounded much like the book Malinowski was trying to pitch.

“I was gutted at first,” says Malinowski, a prolific freelance writer who also hosts one of the most insightful and interesting sports writing newsletters. “I thought [the New York Times Magazine] blew up my spot. The story’s framework was in parallel of what I was proposing with book.” But then he took a step back and realized there was so much more to the rise of the Warriors (which has won two of the last three NBA titles) than could be covered in just one magazine piece. It was proof of concept: “If the New York Times Magazine put a story on the Warriors on the cover, then this is a thing people want to read about.”

One year later, Malinowski’s book is a deep-dive into not only the fraught history of the Warriors’ franchise, a once proud team at the NBA’s founding that had been reduced to a bumbling and mismanaged group of castaways, but also a team that had essentially redefined the NBA. Sure, having a player like Steph Curry, a once-in-a-generation talent with endless range, helped fuel its rise, but Malinowski also details how the Warriors helped to drag basketball into the modern age—and, in the process, transformed into an annual title contender.

I recently spoke with Malinowski about the ordeals of writing his book, whether this type of embedded sports journalism is still possible, and why the Warriors represent not just a shift in playing style but also political and societal awareness. Read more…

Overseas Elite: The Team Dominating the Single-Elimination, Winner-Take-All Basketball Tournament

Via TBT

Jonathan Mugar’s idea was simple: create a single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament full of ex-college stars and pros. The Basketball Tournament—or, more simply, TBT—would take place every summer and, much like March Madness, only a select few could enter, determined by popular demand and an at-large selection process.

When TBT first launched in 2014, a team made up of former Notre Dame basketball players took the title, and the squad won $500,000, but the competition was seen largely as a niche event: perfect for the summer months to ease the doldrums of choosing between golf and baseball for your sports viewing pleasure. In the years since, though, TBT has exploded, adding 32 more teams (for a total of 64) to the field and upping the prize money to a whopping $2 million, attracting better athletes and enhancing the competitive spirit.

It’s within this chasm that Overseas Elite began its dynasty. An easy team to root for—Overseas Elite is stocked with Big East favorites including former St. John’s players (like DJ Kennedy) and Pittsburgh-area stars (DeAndre Kane)—the squad has won the past two TBT titles, racking up $4 million in the process and carving a path to the 2017 TBT finals (versus the Carmelo Anthony-coached Challenge ALS, which airs Thursday night on ESPN, challenging the NFL Network’s first preseason game).

Each of the half-dozen of so Overseas Elite players all have careers playing international ball, so it’s somewhat shocking that a team of such disparate players can come together for three straight years and make a mockery of the competition.

So what has helped Overseas Elite achieve this level of dominance? The team is built much like the modern NBA—that is, chock full of positionless players all capable of driving the lane and finishing at the rim or scorching the nets from deep. During the win against Boeheim’s Army in the TBT semifinals, Overseas Elite connected on nearly 50 percent of its threes, led by Errick McCollum II’s five three-pointers. During his time as a member of the Red Storm, Kennedy wasn’t known for his passing capabilities, but the big has evolved into a point-forward as a three-time Overseas Elite member (handing out 19 assist over five games).

By mimicking the tweaks already embedded in the modern NBA—offensive spacing, perimeter shooting, and lineups stacked with multi-versatile players—Overseas Elite has essentially become the Golden State Warriors of The Basketball Tournament. Back in 2014, when TBT was still very much a cool idea rather than a proven concept, Grantland’s Zach Lowe outlined the uniqueness of such a competition:

Picking the teams is the fun part. Any group of between seven and 10 players can apply for one of the 32 spots on TBT’s website (launching today). Every team has to have a “general manager” who selects the players, manages the team, and recruits “fans” through the website. Every “fan” must fill out a simple form to become official, and any team wishing to make the 32-team field must recruit at least 100 such fans — and likely thousands more. The 24 teams with the most fans will earn automatic bids into the 32-team field. The tournament organizers will choose the remaining eight teams, provided they’ve all met a baseline of 100 enlisted fans. That allows the tournament to make sure a high-profile team can make the field even if it somehow fails to pile up enough fans to crack the top 24.

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How Family Tragedy Shaped Steve Kerr’s Worldview

Steve Kerr

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr — along with other NBA players and coaches — hasn’t shied away from speaking freely about President Trump’s rhetoric, including, this week, cracks about the “alternative facts” espoused by press secretary Sean Spicer.

As John Branch reported for the New York  Times Magazine in December, Kerr’s personal experience is unique: His family spent time in Beirut and his father, Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated while serving as the president of American University of Beirut in 1984:

Kerr also knows that sports are an active ingredient of American culture. He knows, as well as anyone, that players are complicated, molded by background, race, religion and circumstance.

And Kerr is, too: a man whose grandparents left the United States to work in the Middle East, whose father was raised there, whose mother adopted it, whose family has a different and broader perspective than most. The Kerrs are a family touched by terrorism in the most personal way. Malcolm Kerr was not a random victim. He was a target.

That gives Steve Kerr a voice. His job gives him a platform. You will excuse him if he has a few things to say.

“It’s really simple to demonize Muslims because of our anger over 9/11, but it’s obviously so much more complex than that,” he said. “The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people, just like the vast majority of Christians and Buddhists and Jews and any other religion. People are people.”

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