Sacrifice pays off: West delivers epic sermon after capturing elusive title

Sacrifice pays off: West delivers epic sermon after capturing elusive title

OAKLAND -- In the midst of a Warriors locker room reeking of champagne and sweat and euphoria stood a 6-foot-9, 260-pound preacher gripping a bottle with barely a sip of bubbly and holding a revival meeting.

David West was on fire, thunderous in his deliver, words spilling out of his mouth like hot lava tumbling down a mountainside.

“This feels better than any check I ever signed,” said the man who has made roughly $90 million over his career and, at $1.55 million this season was among the lowest-paid members of the Warriors.

This was West’s first championship moment in a 14-year career and he wanted everyone on the planet, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to know how it felt.

He had spent the past two years sacrificing salary to pursue the elusive championship that finally came Monday night at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors put away the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

So the muscular veteran known for his steely demeanor broke character, shattering his outer coat of iron and began shouting and shouting like never before.

“We had optional shootaround,” he boomed. “Everybody was in the gym this morning. Everybody was there. Everybody working. That’s what we do. That’s what we do. That’s why we won it. Because even when Coach says ‘Get what you need,’ it’s on you to make the decision, everybody is still working. That’s what this group is about. That’s why we got to the top. Talent only takes you so far. But details and X’s and O’s and committing to one another every single day . . .”

West paused to take his first full breath in about 35 seconds, and then continued.

“We stayed out the streets. We stayed in the gym and won. That’s all it’s about. Straight up.”

West said he was “done, man,” that he had to go.

He stayed. And kept talking.

“I’ve been a part of every single step, and it’s about winning, accomplishing a goal,” he said. “We set a lofty goal for ourselves at the beginning of the year. We talked about just winning a championship. Every single day! So we had no days off. We had no option not to work. Everybody is in the weight room. Everybody is on the court. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the work. Somebody else could have been here. It’s about being a part of a special group and putting together the right type of people. And that’s what we did.”

Acknowledging he may be intoxicated, West was profoundly uninhibited. He did plenty to earn his way with the Warriors, from counseling Draymond Green to zipping adroit passes that resulted in easy passes for a variety of teammates and, here in Game 5, standing chin-to-chin with Cleveland’s big man Tristan Thompson.

West played 11 minutes and totaled 4 points, three rebounds and a blocked shot. He was plus-16 for his time on the court.

His jubilation level was plus-infinity.

Reminded of the financial sacrifice he made by playing for a veteran’s minimum salary, West quickly countered.

“But look: You can’t take it with you,” he said. “The Egyptians learned that. You can’t bury it and take the treasures with you.

So it’s about the small things in life. The accomplishments, man. It’s about winning. And we set a goal and worked every single day toward that goal and nobody can ever take that away from us. Straight up!”

For West, this clearly made it all worthwhile. He has no plans to retire, not yet, but he also has plenty of post-career options already on the table.

For now, he’s content to revel in the moment.

“We won,” West said. “We worked. You see guys with all-world talent sacrificing. You see guys that can do anything they want every single day, yet they come in the gym. Days off were in the gym. No excuses with this group. That’s what I’m most proud of.

“I know how hard these guys worked. Kevin Durant is great because he works. Draymond is great because he works. Steph is great cause he works -- not because it’s given to him. They work. STRAIGHT UP!”

Reminded that he, like fellow 14-year veteran Zaza Pachulia, might have a particularly strong appreciation for the moment, West nodded.

“We’ve been a part of this league for a long time,” he said. “We’ve been a part of bad teams, been a part of good teams that got close. But this is what it’s about. It’s about getting over the hump, getting over the hill, being the last man standing. That’s what makes the NBA worth it, all these years, 14 seasons.”

With that, West’s sermon was over. He grabbed his son and made his way out of the room, leaving behind the wet carpet and cigar smoke and taking his tent with him.

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.