The primetime ABC broadcast of the Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs had the makings of a regular season classic. The teams had the two best records in the NBA and the head-to-head game would be a critical factor in which team secured the all-important home court advantage for the playoffs.
But instead it was a “colossal disappointment,” as ABC’s own announcers Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson angrily admitted. It was just a weird, weird game that the Warriors made no effort to win, with coach Steve Kerr resting their four best players.
- Van Gundy spent a good deal of airtime ripping into the NBA, saying: “Once again the fans are told, you don’t matter. Pay us up front, we’ll take your money and then we’ll give you whatever product we want to.”
- Las Vegas actually posted odds on the game, making the Spurs an 11-point favorite. How, Mike Wilbon asked beforehand, could they possibly know? (They didn’t; Spurs won by 22.)
- Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, asked about not starting before the game, replied: “I do what master say.” (See video below.)
- Warriors coach Kerr was actually taking a page directly from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has been conspicuously (and unapologetically) resting his stars during the regular season for more than a decade.
- The hype about the game and Kerr’s move obscured the most important piece of human news about either team: LaMarcus Aldridge’s heart arrhythmia that has taken him off the court for an indefinite period.
- TV analysts (and former NBA coaches) Van Gundy and Jackson relentlessly ripping the league for allowing Kerr’s move, “devaluing the fans” and also devaluing the NBA product, especially the regular season, turned into a running joke with Van Gundy saying his sippy cup assistant needed a rest. Then that his brother, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, needs a spa day. It kept going.
- Andre Iguodala, again, coming into the game (well, kind of — he came into the arena, not the game) after yet more controversial comments where he used the n-word to describe himself as part of an NBA minstrel act. Kerr says Andre’s such a joker.
- The game really was important, despite the Warriors not treating it that way. Ironically, perhaps, the game actually demonstrated the value of the regular season as San Antonio could ultimately secure first place as a result. (They now lead the head-to-head and will prevail even in a tie in the standings.)
- Steve Kerr said: “I genuinely feel bad for the fans who bought tickets.” Yeah, but…
- Neither Jackson nor Van Gundy blamed Kerr. They blamed the NBA for allowing Kerr to do it without penalty. (Sort of like the way the tax code allows Donald Trump and big companies not to pay taxes — Kerr, like Trump claimed he was doing in the presidential debates, was simply being smart taking advantage of the rules.)
- Popovich didn’t rest himself, despite the bandage on his nose (cause unknown). Kerr would have sat Pop out, no doubt.