West leaving Warriors to add new challenge in his illustrious career

West leaving Warriors to add new challenge in his illustrious career

Jerry West was the first brick.

It didn’t take long for Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to see what they were inheriting when they took ownership of the Warriors in November of 2010. They quickly discerned this franchise, toiling in the NBA doldrums for the better part of 20 years, needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

They went after West, an NBA legend as a player and unsurpassed in his success as an executive. Going after such a major figure meant the new owners were serious. West would give the Warriors instant credibility. Officially listed as an adviser and executive board member, he gave this fixer-upper of a franchise a solid foundation.

Six years and five consecutive playoff seasons later, West is ready to leave the Warriors. Not merely leave, but take his talents to the rival Los Angeles Clippers, as has been speculated for a couple weeks.

All that’s left to complete is the contractual fine print, according to multiple reports.

So why would West, two weeks after turning 79, depart the uber-successful Warriors for a team that is light years behind them on the NBA’s elite list?

West has a need to be needed. And in a brief conversation with NBCSportsBayArea.com earlier this month it was apparent he felt the Warriors were in about as good a place as they could possibly be. He gushed about the roster, about the “magnificent” Kevin Durant, about the “really strong” coaching staff, about the commitment of the owners.

Even before the Warriors finished the Cavaliers in five games to take the NBA Finals, West sounded like a man without a challenge.

Jerry West needs a challenge. Makes him feel alive. Makes him feel valuable.

He’ll get a challenge the minute he officially joins the Clippers.

Though they have been among the NBA’s better teams over the past six seasons, the Clippers during that time also have been the league’s most disappointing postseason team, bounced in the first round three times -- including the last two years -- and ousted in the second round the other three times.

They’ve changed coaches, from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers, who has been promoted twice and now also has the title of team president. They’ve even changed ownership, from the contemptible Donald Sterling to the fireball Steve Ballmer.

Through it all, despite All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have shown only flashes of promise -- consistently derailed by collapses.

This is enough to attract the interest of West, who commuted to Oakland several times a year but lives in Southern California.

If in the wake of the Warriors winning their second championship in three seasons West seemed particularly maudlin for someone not predisposed to such conduct, well, there was a reason. The man who was instrumental in the drafting of Klay Thompson, the decision to keep Thompson rather than trade him to for Kevin Love and also a voice in the recruitment of Durant was feeling he had done his work for the Warriors.

“I knew I was going to be leaving; I didn’t know what I was going to be leaving to,” West told ESPN on Wednesday. “Was this the end of me being productive? Every person is different in terms of their lives and how people age. I don’t feel old. I feel competitive.

“Sometimes, you need to be challenged. I’ve kind of been defiant my whole life, the way I was raised. And I think this is like the defiant streak in me. I don’t know.”

West becomes the second member of the Warriors brain trust to move on, as former assistant general manager Travis Schlenk left last month to become the GM of the Atlanta Hawks.

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.