Things We Love About The Warriors is a series focused on traits we admire about the team as a whole, or individual players, that extend beyond the boundaries of the court.
It takes a healthy dose of humility to play far fewer minutes per night — or games per season — than one is used to, or capable of, doing. But Golden State players do just that. Their willingness to sacrifice in this way — to give up individual playing time, which could impact their careers or legacies — is the exact reason the Warriors have been so successful.
“It’s the contributions that each player makes to the team, and to each other,” Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr said, during the Warriors’ championship parade.
What may seem like madness to some is method to Kerr, who appears committed to the idea that each contribution — no matter how small it might seem in terms of minutes played or points on the stat sheet — is valuable. He has successfully sold the idea that the overall system would not perform optimally if any single piece was missing or not functioning to potential.
It has been well-noted that Andre Iguodala set a precedent, not just with the Warriors but throughout the NBA, by agreeing to come off the bench during the 2014-15 season, which ended with a championship for the team and the NBA Finals MVP award in his hands. Perhaps Iguodala’s example is the reason other players were willing to swallow their anti-ego pills willingly, when asked to make concessions.
Two players who made some of the biggest sacrifices while on the Golden State squad were Ian Clark and James Michael McAdoo. Unfortunately, due to the organization’s luxury tax concerns, contributions by these players were not enough to secure them spots on the squad for the 2017-18 season.
Goodbye and good luck, Ian Clark!
During his parade speech, Kerr stated that Clark did not protest when informed he would not play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals because of the coaching staff’s desire to “shake things up.” Although this was an obvious disappointment, Clark was keen to fulfill his assigned duty as member of the bench cheer squad. Kerr, a voice filled with emotion, said, “This kid has helped us win playoff games two years in a row.”
Which is why it is no less than displeasing that Clark was only offered a one-year veteran’s minimum contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. Being that he is only 26, many guessed he’d be in for a few lucrative offers. (The rest of the teams in the league apparently have their own salary-cap issues, too.)
Clark often played sporadically, and for only about 14 minutes per game, averaging 6.8 points, 1.2 assists and 1.6 rebounds.
But when Clark stepped on the court, he took care of business every night — often executing the intangibles by making up for whatever deficits existed in the previous rotation. When scoring was needed, Clark got to the rim or shot from three. When defense was needed, he locked down and forced opponents into bad shots. When ball movement was needed, he used his speed to advance the ball up the court and get it into the hands of the open man, or create a shot for himself.
Clark’s career-high 36-point game against the Spurs in March 2017, a game in which he did it all, will be remembered always. His personality will certainly be missed.
Adieu, James Michael McAdoo!
McAdoo created an uproar when he shaved his head during the 2016-17 season.
Well, not really. But his transformation from thick-and-fluffy ‘fro to clean-shaven glow was pretty dramatic.
Unfortunately for McAdoo, his encounter with hair clippers was the highlight of his season (not counting that little thing known as an NBA Championship). McAdoo didn’t get much playing time, but averaged 3.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per game. Moreover, his game appearances were infrequent. McAdoo played in only 52 of 82 regular-season games.
Kerr commended McAdoo for taking his role in stride during his parade speech.
“McAdoo plays once every 10 games [or so], based on match-ups, but he brings it. And he’s one of the most respected people on this team because of his character.”
McAdoo’s willingness to accept such a minor role for the sake of team success certainly is laudable. The long-term result, however, could be a diminished career moving forward.
He has two NBA Championships under his belt (2015, 2017), but his limited floor time did not afford him many opportunities to show what he can do. For now, McAdoo appears to be left in a bit of limbo, a kind of professional basketball bardo.
So, as we bid adieu to James Michael McAdoo, we wish him well wherever he lands (and hope he gets more playing time).
Au revoir, Matt Barnes!
From “We Believe” to “Strength in Numbers,” things came full circle for Matt Barnes during the 2016-17 NBA season, culminating with the NBA Finals win. Barnes had floated from one team to another during his 14-year, journeyman career.
But a string of odd circumstances led him back to Oakland — to the new-look, good-character Warriors — ten years after his departure from the “We Believe” incarnation. If Barnes isn’t eternally grateful, he should be.
It was just a month before signing with the Warriors that the notorious hothead showed clear signs of going down a very wrong path (being accused of assaulting a woman in a NYC nightclub brawl) — on a losing team and in the company of another hothead who has a host of troubles of his own.
But, out of nowhere, came a moment of grace in the form of Zaza Pachulia doing what Zaza Pachulia does best: being a klutz. This time, the clumsiness of stumbling into another player had terrible consequences — causing what, initially, was thought to be a season-ending knee injury to Kevin Durant.
And, just like that, Barnes’s fortunes changed. With Golden State unsure of how long Durant would be out with the injury, the Warriors signed Barnes to fill in some of the gigantic gaps Durant’s absence would expose.
Shortly thereafter, Barnes’s lawyer had his criminal case delayed until after the postseason, in the likelihood the Warriors would make it to the NBA Finals, which they did and which they won.
During his parade speech, Kerr said, “Matt Barnes, being in the league  years … man, you’ve earned this.” On the day he was signed, Barnes wrote on Instagram, “… next to the birth of my children, this is the happiest day of my life!!”
But there are many who would not cheer for Barnes, of which he is aware.
During the championship victory champagne showers in the locker room, Barnes said, “There’s no words but a lot of people want to see me fail … After 15 years I’ve succeeded. So this is a good way to stick it to everybody that wants to see the worst and thank [you] everybody that’s always been behind me.”
Barnes definitely has anger-management issues and a history of violence that likely stem from his very unsavory childhood. But Kerr thanked him because he joined the team at a critical turning point in the season and did everything that was asked of him. Barnes clocked around 23 minutes per game and averaged 7.1 points, 2.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
In addition to leaving Oakland with a championship ring, it would be great if Barnes will also be carrying the Warriors’ culture, embedded deeply into his psyche and spirit.
At the end of his speech, Kerr said (with an entirely straight face):
“Talented, and committed. Every single one of you are just … ultimate Warriors.”
That goes for the players who were retained as well as those who will be moving on.