Whether it was from producing huge dunks, playing great defence, blocking shots or showing off his freakish athleticism, Andrew Wiggins did all that and…
Michael Jordan will forever have the universal acclaim but when it comes to Chicago’s late 1990s dynasty, Steve Kerr is the player who beats even “His Airness” when it comes to respect.
For anyone who has not seen Kerr’s emotional and poignant press conference earlier this week when he pleaded for America’s politicians to finally make meaningful change on the nation’s archaic gun laws, you know why he’s a true leader.
In the wak of the school shooting in Texas which left 21 people, mainly students, dead, Kerr in a statesmanlike address told the assembled media that basketball was irrelevant on a day like that and used his platform to call out the US Senate for its failure to pass a bill to institute universal background checks for gun purchases.
“I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to devastated families that are out there. I’m tired of excuses, I’m tired of moments of silence. Enough!” he demanded.
The Golden State coach speaks from the heart because his family knows what it’s like to have a loved one taken away in an instant.
His father, Malcolm, an academic who specialised in Middle Eastern studies, was shot dead by terrorists at the age of 52 in 1984 at the American University of Beirut where he was the school’s president.
Steve was 18 at the time and a freshman at the University of Arizona. Understandably, the memories are still fresh of that January day when he was awoken at 3am in his dorm room to be told the terrible news.
In the penultimate episode of The Last Dance documentary which kept sports fans the world over occupied during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, Kerr explained how the murder of his father shaped the way he thought about the world and how it disillusioned him as well.
Kerr was never a star player during his 15-year NBA career but the three-point specialist achieved great feats, winning five championships along the way – three with Jordan’s 96-98 Bulls and another two in San Antonio before he retired five years later.
He’s added three more rings to his collection as Warriors coach and could very well snare another with his team up 3-1 over Dallas in the Western Conference finals heading into Friday’s game five at home.
Irrespective of whether the Celtics finish off Miami after going up 3-2 on Thursday or the Heat win the last two matches of the Eastern Conference finals, the Warriors will be favourites against either opposition. And they will have home-court advantage.
Kerr’s speech alone will not be nearly enough to institute change in gun-crazy America but it adds to the momentum for progress.
But he is the kind of true leader who speaks sense, the uncomfortable truth for a nation that needs to hear it.
Such has been the strength of the leadership displayed by outspoken coaches like Kerr and his old Spurs mentor Gregg Popovich, there was even a light-hearted push for them to run in the lead-up to the last US election.
The US could do worse than having people like those two in the White House. Actually we saw from the previous administration, they could do a whole lot worse.
Australian prospect Dyson Daniels could end up alongside Josh Giddey at Oklahoma City Thunder but New York or Cleveland appear more likely destinations for the teenage guard.
Daniels is certain to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft next month and it looks like he has risen into the lottery slots in the top 14 with some American college experts projecting him to be one of the first 10 names read out by Commissioner Adam Silver.
Draft Express guru Jonathan Givony even claimed Daniels had generated “top-five pick buzz” after showcasing his athleticism and improved shooting chops at the NBA Combine earlier this week.
He posted 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game with the G-League Ignite after opting to bypass the college route and earned plenty of comparisons to Giddey as he is also a tall guard – a tick over 2 metres – whose strength is his passing.
As great as it would be for him to end up alongside Giddey at the Thunder, who have the No.12 pick, it would not make sense for OKC or Daniels as they are too similar to co-exist, especially with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also in the backcourt.
The Knicks need a guard who can pass and defend and they are a potential landing spot at No.11 although a lot of mock drafts have Daniels falling to the final lottery spot at No.14, which would mean he ends up in Cleveland.
With Collin Sexton likely to be traded, the Cavaliers would be a great franchise for Daniels to launch his NBA career. He’d be partnering with first-time All-Star guard Darius Garland and with last year’s impressive No.3 pick Evan Mobley in the front court, they are a team with a young core that should be playoff contenders for the foreseeable future.
Daniels was a fan of Matthew Dellavedova during the Boomers legend’s Cavaliers days highlighted by his efforts in the 2015 and 2016 finals campaigns so it would be serendipitous if he also ended up there.
The knock on Daniels has been his shooting – he averaged 45% from the field and just 25% from three-point range in the G-League so that is likely to prevent teams from picking him in the top 10 but his camp has reportedly met
He sensibly told reporters at the Combine that as nice as it would be to be a teammate of Giddey’s next season, he’d prefer to end up at a team that’s going to be the right fit for his career. “Hopefully one day I’ll get to play with Josh for sure,” he said.
With Delly, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles entering the final stages of their international career, Dyson and Giddey will definitely end up as teammates in the green and gold as the Boomers look to improve on their 2021 Tokyo Olympic bronze medals at the Paris Games in 2024.
Friday – Mavericks at Warriors, 11am
Well that was nice of Golden State to let Dallas have a win in game four but now it’s time for them to complete the “gentlemen’s sweep” by finishing them off 4-1 to progress to their first NBA Finals appearances since their dramatic boilover loss to Toronto in 2019.
Saturday – Heat at Celtics, 10.30am
Miami had only four players reach double figures in Thursday’s 93-80 loss without anyone hitting 20. They collectively shot at less than 32% from the field. And that was in Florida – how are they going to go on the Boston parquet floor?