Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

The NBA All-Star break will last seemingly forever, but we have two great opportunities between now and next Thursday (no games until Thursday? What fresh hell is this?) to treat the audience to something new and enjoyable before James Dolan decides to start banning Willis Reed from Madison Square Garden.
 
In other words, cue Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. This is right up their individual wheelhouses.

Simply, we want to see which of them wants to become the first player in All-Star Game history to get a technical foul. 
 
That’s right, no player has ever been T’d up in an All-Star Game, which is amazing since Rick Barry got called for 30 personal fouls in his All-Star career and fouled out twice, and agreed with every call? That’s demonstrably implausible on its face.
 
You may be less surprised by this fact because the All-Star Game has become a game played for laughs and layups. Nobody gets fouled, nobody gets mad, nobody has a tantrum – it’s all snicks, giggles and no-host drinking from start to finish.
 
But there is an opportunity for either high drama or low comedy this weekend in New Orleans that could energize an otherwise mega-meh event. And frankly, Boogie and Dray are our best bets.
 
Yes, we are ignoring the idea of a Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drawdown, mostly because while it is clear the two gentlemen are going to let their snit fester awhile, it is equally evident that neither would ruin the weekend for their fellow players by being caught giving the media hellhounds what they crave – a series of easy stories that make the event less relentlessly tedious.

And we all know how little they want to serve any media-based agendas.
 
We also won’t get a lot of drama from Charles Oakley or Li’l Jimmy, because everyone agrees that Dolan is a raging jackwagon, and you can’t have drama without people on both sides of an argument.
 
No, this looks like a job for Boogie and Day Day.
 
Cousins and Green have as part of their reputations a penchant for disputatious behavior that catches the eye and ear of your average official. Cousins leads the 
league in technical fouls with 17, and Green, though less consistent, picked up two Wednesday night from Ronnie Garretson and now sits just off the pace in fifth place with 10.
 
Westbrook would have 13 if not for two that were rescinded by the league’s hall monitor division, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers has 12 and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan has 11, but Cousins and Green are the two guys you think of first when it comes to back-sass. They are what the nation demands here.

Thus, one of them could decide, just on the basis of entertainment value and Twitter trendage, to get into the grills of one of Sunday’s officials (Ed Malloy, Ken Mauer and Tom Washington, in case you had a bet on it). I mean, there’s history to be made here, and surely one of them could hustle up a sponsor to get paid for the T. Say, the American Civil Liberties Union.
 
But there is another avenue for Green, and that is in the celebrity game he is helping to coach. Yes, someone had to draw the shortest straw of the weekend, and sitting through the Kevin Hart Cares Way Too Much Memorial Game is Green's.

Though there has never been a technical foul rained upon a player (hell, there hasn’t been a player foul out since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987), there is one coach to get one – the redoubtable Red Auerbach, who got thrown out of the 1967 game in the Cow Palace by Willie Smith and Earl Strom, with the kicker being that he had retired from active coaching the year before, and might have been playing it for laughs himself. After all, he coached an old-timers game, the ’84 game and got tossed from that one as well, the cranky little elf.
  
Here lies another opportunity for Green to win some eyeballs with the simple act of snapping over some bogus foul call against Candace Parker or Baron Davis, or even better, getting into a shouting match on the bench with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is playing on Green's team.
 
I mean, under what other circumstances would you watch this sneakered B-list-and-below tire fire? Draymond Green doesn’t owe us a snap, but the game could use one, and he is better qualified than anyone – except, now that we think of it, Cuban.
 
Green and Cousins should then double down on Sunday and double-team Malloy (he’s the official who looks like a coat rack on wheels), or Mauer (he’s the official who looks like he had his hair styled at a Lego factory) to get one each, maybe at the same moment, even if it’s just for comedy value.
 
I mean, the T’s wouldn’t count against their regular season totals, people would laugh, highlight clips would be enhanced, and Adam Silver could come from the stands and fine them each a quintazillion units of money from a country that no longer exists. It’s a cavalcade of cheap laughs in a game that had 369 points a year ago and can use all the useful comedy it can get. 
 
And on the rule of thumb that if you’re gonna go, go big, the weekend is in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green. Let your inner complaints department run free, gentlemen. It’s good for the game. Trust us.

Steve Kerr's absence from Warriors' bench means two things for sure

Steve Kerr's absence from Warriors' bench means two things for sure

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Steve Kerr’s physical absence from the stage in the NBA Playoffs means a lot of things. It all depends on what you want from this development.

If you think the Warriors should win anyway, you will decide it will mean something but not a lot. If you think they should lose, it is a catastrophe, and when layered with Kevin Durant’s injury, it is a three-story catastrophe with a massive entry hall, a huge spiral staircase, a vast backyard with an Olympic pool and a shooting range.

But here are two things it means for sure.

One, nobody will be able to say they were lucky if they win, which for some reason still bothers people around here, as though luck is some sort of shame-inducing insult to be avoided.

And two, they will not accept your pity if they lose, least of all Kerr. Kerr is much better at showing anger than he is acknowledging pity, and you saw plenty of the former at his presser Sunday.

In an attempt to both granularize and overthink what has been pretty boilerplate playoff series so far, many folks have gone to Mike Brown, Kerr’s new Luke Walton, to declare an Achilles heel.

Except that (a) players determine success in the NBA, and only the very worst coaches impede talent from achieving its true level. Mike Brown is not among those coaches, and those who think he is are fools.

Except that (b) Kerr will be around for planning sessions, and there will be the rest of the coaching staff at Brown’s side so that continuity will not be an issue unless Brown’s voice is so alien that a group of veteran players who have won one title and nearly won a second will somehow lose their way.

The danger here is that we might be minimizing his absence, when in fact we don’t have the slightest idea how it will affect the Warriors. Even with the 43 games Walton coached in Kerr’s absence after this first back reaction, when people feared the team would fall off the earth, the Warriors played more than half those games against non-playoff teams, while playoff games are almost by necessity are high-leverage situations piled atop each other in a gigantic heap.

It’s not comparing cats and dogs, but it is comparing terriers and rottweilers. In short, this could be a lot tougher than we think it is. We have no idea, because there is no real metric for this, only a lot of half-educated guesswork.

You know, what we do best.

Even Five-Thirty-Eight.com, The Place Where Twos And Fours Go To Find Love, took the Warriors’ two wins last week, factored in Kerr’s absence and decided that the Warriors are now 67 percent favorites to win the title, up from 63 percent.

But if the Warriors cannot navigate the postseason without Kerr, then they’ll have failed, pure and simple. Context is all well and good, and we believe in context with all our might, but one of the contexts of this Warrior team is that no excuses will be accepted. It is the price they pay for being a 2-to-1 favorite from the second they signed Durant. After all, life is as windy as it is lonely at the top.

Kerr will return when he can, and it is hoped that he won’t do it until he knows he can, rather than thinks he can or hopes he can. But as it affects the Warriors . . . well, the nation has spoken.

No alibis. No luck. Until there is new evidence, they do, or they do not. Period.

This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body

This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

PORTLAND -- Steve Kerr can’t golf. His body won’t allow it, hasn’t in two years. He has spent most of his life being able to golf, enjoying it immensely, and not being able to do so now saddens him deeply.

He can’t play basketball, either. Can’t even shoot free throws, not comfortably, and he spent half of his adult life playing the game at the highest levels.

Kerr, 51, can’t enjoy even the simplest things in life. Not now. So coaching an NBA team, the job he loves, a vocation that fulfills his lifelong need to compete, is out of the question.

Coaching the Warriors in the playoffs, in pursuit of a championship, is put on hold all because 21 months ago he made a reasonable, rational medical decision he may regret for the rest of his life.

Kerr opted for back surgery.

The after-effects have been devastating. He is imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body. Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com earlier this season that he felt he had exhausted just about every possibility he is willing to trust, all in a quest for physical normalcy. He has researched hundreds of books in search of relief. He has talked to dozens of specialists. He has tried opioids and other medical treatments, herbal treatments, spiritual treatments and marijuana in a form he reluctantly revealed. And his reluctance, once revealed, was easily understood.

“I can tell you if you’re listening out there, if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery,” Kerr said Sunday in his first comments since Friday. “I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anybody get in there.”

The covers were pulled back on Kerr’s condition Saturday afternoon, when it was announced he would not coach Game 3 of the Warriors-Trail Blazers series. Now it was public, everybody knowing what those of us who work closely with him already knew. Much of what we’ve known, and some of what we’ve suspected, came tumbling into the open Sunday, when Kerr told the world that his condition, which had nagged at him ever since the summer of 2015, which he had suppressed with an admirable degree of success, finally had gotten best of him -- at least for now.

In private conversations this season with NBCSportsBayArea.com, Kerr has acknowledged his agony. He has admitted that he has never been more miserable and expressed his regret over having the first back surgery, which resulted in a spinal fluid leak, which led to a second surgery -- which has sent him plummeting down this path of torment.

Kerr lives with pain that most commonly might be associated with sinus headaches or, worse, migraines. Now that it has reached a level of utter despair, he no longer can even pretend to hide it. Gutting it out, a term often linked to competitive sport, was possible until this weekend.

“I was able to manage the pain and the discomfort over the last year and a half and, suddenly, things got a lot worse,” he said.

“I don’t know why. I’m trying to figure out why.”

This is cruel, and Steve Kerr knows cruelty. He has a great job, a great wife, a solid family -- yet none of this can completely eclipse the tragic death of his father. Dr. Malcolm Kerr was the president of the American University of Beirut when he was assassinated by a group of terrorists in January 1984.

Losing a father to senseless violence in a faraway place is not something a son gets over, not completely. Steve Kerr doesn’t often reference his father, but every time he does it is beneath a cloud of melancholy.

To have a great childhood, followed by unimaginable heartache while entering adulthood, leaves open the possibility for bitterness, maybe even the desire for vengeance. Not with Steve. He chose to continue living following the example set by his father, namely that the world is a place in need of healing.

It’s why anyone who knows Steve Kerr can only admire his principles and dedication. His innate goodness always shines through.

And now he has this great job, one in which he has more than earned his salary. He is a championship coach who always points to his players and his staff. He has a policy of openness that put everyone around him at ease.

And now this, such an unkind cut it seems profoundly unfair.

Kerr has so much that enriches him and can’t savor any of it. He wants nothing more than another Warriors championship and to be pain-free. At this stage, who could blame him if he yearned more for the latter than the former?