Road Warriors: Behind the Scenes of Golden State's Trip into NBA History

Kevin Ding@@KevinDingNBA Senior WriterDecember 17, 2015

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry arrives before the start of their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Salt Lake City.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Bleacher Report joined the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors for their recently completed seven-city, 14-day road trip.

You know the stories of the games, how the Warriors' season-opening winning streak reached 24 games, longest in major pro sports history, before they lost on the final stop of the trip Saturday night.

But B/R sought to find the elements of what has made this team great, a group with uncommon chemistry, compassion, leadership and skill.

Here are those stories.

Salt Lake City

Nov. 30, 5:01 p.m. MT

Both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are under the weather, sniffling and coughing in the locker room. That doesn't stop them and others from relentlessly ribbing one of their teammates before the game.

Given how unbeatable the team has been through 18 games, past experience with winning streaks naturally comes up. There are a few doubts, however, about the logic of one player's claim that his high school team posted an undefeated season…with one loss.

It makes no sense, obviously. And the guy gets lampooned for it, even more obviously.

But the logic, topic and jokes are not the point here.

When it comes to light that a reporter knows about the specious one-loss perfect season and stands in position to pile on, the Warriors' circle snaps shut. Green takes the role of papa bear the most, protecting one of their own, with Andrew Bogut close behind.

The message is clear:

We can make fun of our guy. We can make fun of him all day and all night, and we will.

You'd better not.

Nov. 30, 8:49 p.m. MT

Whether it is mopping the sweat off the court or guarding the likes of Gordon Hayward, Andre Iguodala has become the Warriors' most flexible talent.
Whether it is mopping the sweat off the court or guarding the likes of Gordon Hayward, Andre Iguodala has become the Warriors' most flexible talent.Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Iguodala is mopping the floor.

Referee Mike Callahan is uncomfortable with this.

The NBA Finals MVP jumped off the Warriors bench and is laboring on his knees—propping himself up with his right hand and working a towel with his left in search of every last drop of sweat. Callahan stands over him like an apologetic maitre d' who is terribly embarrassed that a customer is cleaning up a waiter's spill.

Iguodala does the dirty work without comment. His willingness to assume a reserve role on the team last season is considered by the coaches to be the pivotal domino that initiated a suppression of ego team-wide.

But about those wet spots on the floor. The Warriors had a preseason game canceled in the third quarter because players were slipping on the basketball court (above hockey ice) at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

It was especially bad that night on the side of the court near the Warriors bench. And Curry, with his history of ankle problems, was among those who went down in that area because of a wet spot. You see the logic to Iguodala becoming an impromptu custodian.

How do you build a team where guys look out for each other this way?

No team has complete harmony, but with the Warriors, what passes for team discord is the image of Andrew Bogut, in the moments after fouling out, grabbing Marreese Speights' hand and raising it to the rafters as if he's declaring the confused Speights the winner in a boxing ring. Speights hadn't raised his hand on his own to claim the foul to the official scorer. Bogut is annoyed by this.

But almost every other picture is one of raised-arm rubs or muscle-flex poses executed with real zeal. There are no golf claps or waiting for the pivotal fourth-quarter run to stand up and roar.

General manager Bob Myers looks on from the sixth row behind the Warriors bench on this night. He's strait-laced and old enough at 40 to have an actual newspaper at his side, yet he's young and cool enough with abundant experience as a player agent to sense which guys care little about anything but their own fun.

Curry is the only player left from the roster when Myers came to work for the Warriors in 2011. He wanted to assemble players around Curry who could play multiple positions with length and versatility. From the beginning, though, Myers prioritized individual character and fit in the group.

"Ultimately, this business of professional sports somehow brings out the best in people and the worst," Myers says. "And you know you're going to face adversity, so you'd rather face adversity and scrutiny with high-character people—because they're more likely to overcome it.

"Then if you somehow find success, you are more likely to sustain it with people of high character who are selfless, don't care who gets the credit and have humility."

The Warriors are hardly changed from last season's title team. Asked if the cohesion he sees makes him more inclined to take a gamble on a talented player with iffy character as the Warriors move forward, Myers' deep-set eyes open wider.

"No, I think you'd be less willing," he says. "Why disrupt something that's good? Why risk adding a combustible component to it?"

Nov. 30, 11:22 p.m. MT

About a year-and-a-half ago, on the counsel of expert sleep specialists, the Warriors broke from the NBA norm of flying out of a road city to another road city immediately after playing a night game. As long as there isn't another game the next night, staying overnight for a good night's sleep in a hotel bed and then flying out in the morning was deemed preferable for the players' functionality.

A side benefit to that type of scheduling arose for the Warriors: They began having optional team dinners at local restaurants after road games. They weren't flying out anyway, so it made sense.

Sometimes, the restaurant opens just for the team. If it's already open, a private section is set aside, with Warriors team security on watch.

There are two team buses leaving the arena after the victory over the Jazz. You might expect one to go back to the team hotel and the other to go to the restaurant. Nope, both buses are going to the restaurant (one stops off at the hotel if anyone needs to take care of anything there before continuing on to dinner).   

The expectation simply is that everyone will want to go to the restaurant and be together.

On this night, it's Valter's Osteria. Valter brings his mother's porcini mushroom and meat sauce from Tuscany, and the Warriors bring the laughter that resonates over the dark hardwood floors past the midnight hour.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Although his dad was honored during the Warriors' visit, Steph Curry found he may have been the most popular figure in Charlotte during the team's stay.
Although his dad was honored during the Warriors' visit, Steph Curry found he may have been the most popular figure in Charlotte during the team's stay.Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Dec. 1, 4:25 p.m. ET

This is supposed to be one of the simplest days of the trip.

A 9:15 a.m. bus from the hotel to the airport. A 10 a.m. departure from Salt Lake City. A 3:34 p.m. arrival in Charlotte. And a 4:15 p.m. bus arrival at the hotel.

That's supposed to be it—a basic travel day. But interim head coach Luke Walton decides to change it up and add a light practice that evening in Charlotte.

Ankles don't get taped. The guys get just enough run for a nice sweat.

Again, the Warriors are on top of their off-court analytics. The club's general inclination is to practice after long flights to get guys' bodies immediately active.

But this is more than that.

The players preferred to squeeze a practice in the day before the game in exchange for a full day off in Charlotte after the game. Part of this championship team's ideology is to let the inmates run the asylum.

Head coach Steve Kerr, away from the team amid complications from offseason spinal surgery, has gotten a lot of individual credit for initiating change with Golden State upon his arrival last year. What he did more than anything was throw open the doors not just to his office but to the entire team operation.

Change can be driven by anyone in this democracy.

"We've got an open relationship with our guys," Walton says. "They'll tell us what they think. If it doesn't matter to us about when to practice, we'll do it at the time they prefer."

It's a rare approach in pro sports, Walton admits. He chuckles at the idea that in his playing days he could have told Phil Jackson when to have practice.

"I was very close to Phil," Walton says, "but we didn't have that type of relationship."

Dec. 1, 7:09 p.m. ET

Charlotte offered a warm welcome to Curry wherever he went during his visit home.
Charlotte offered a warm welcome to Curry wherever he went during his visit home.Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Charlotte is Curry's spot. He grew up here. Went to college nearby.

Folks see him and greet him not with hello, but with "welcome home."

There's plenty of time after the post-flight practice for Curry to see his alma mater, Davidson, play that night against UNC Charlotte. His presence is so important the schools moved the day of the game so Curry could attend (and so locals wouldn't miss the game while watching Curry play the Hornets the next night).

Curry's crew for the Davidson game includes his parents and…Jason Thompson, the new guy on the team. Thompson essentially replaced David Lee, Curry's longtime friend and confidant who was traded to Boston.

Curry did offer to bring other players to the game, but there's something cool about the NBA MVP rolling in as homecoming king with a date who just moved to the neighborhood, doesn't know many people and hasn't learned the offense well enough to crack the rotation.

The evening turns out to be an opportunity for Curry and Thompson to bond. Both thought they could've gone to bigger college programs, had to settle for mid-major schools and parlayed the chips on their shoulders into NBA lottery selections. (Thompson went to Rider University, and his loyalty and alumni contributions run deep enough that the floor in the updated campus gym there will be named Jason Thompson Court.)

"I had fun," Thompson says at the end of his night with Curry. "I didn't even know where Davidson was."

This is a special night, but the Warriors' group had already welcomed Thompson. It wasn't difficult considering the players gathered in an Oracle Arena suite for the R. Kelly concert in October and got together to eat and watch the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto fight in November.

Quality time, unannounced and casual. Thompson, who played seven seasons with Sacramento, is sailing along in a different world.

"You can just tell the difference from what I've been used to—no offense to the organization I was with," he says. "Some guys on other teams are forced to hang with each other. We hang with each other even when it's not a team event."

Dec. 2, 8:43 p.m. ET

The Davidson game is the start of an action-packed few days for Curry before the Warriors continue on to Toronto.

Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Even game day against the Hornets features him stopping by his high school before shootaround and coming out of the locker room at halftime to throw his arms around his mom and sister while the Hornets honor their all-time leading scorer: his dad, Dell.

Before the game there are even more No. 30 Warriors jerseys around town than red-, white- and blue-colored ATMs, which is saying something with Charlotte being Bank of America's headquarters.

The game features a classic timely Curry takeover, as he scores 13 consecutive points in the third quarter. It's quite a show for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Curry's new buddy who is sitting courtside on a night off from his own potential MVP campaign.

Newton is impressed. The points keep coming, though.

Next time down, Curry shoots it so early in the possession and from so far out (six seconds after Kemba Walker's layup at the other end and from 30 feet out) that Newton is looking down at his phone. He only realizes what he missed when the crowd roars.

Such is the one downside of watching Curry play: You might miss something amazing because it happens way ahead of normal basketball tempo.

Golden State's resident intellectual, Festus Ezeli, will take a break from his Steve Jobs hardcover biography to impart that wisdom after the game: "You got to keep watching, because you never know what Steph Curry is going to do. Steph is going to Steph."

After not seeing the 30-footer, Newton looks up in time to see Curry flip in a quick layup on the next possession—and the QB shakes his head in awe. Newton is then handed a drink, but no one is going to fool him twice: He keeps his head up as he accepts the cup…and Curry promptly nails another quick three.

"Oh, my God!" Newton yells.

Thirty seconds later, another 30-footer goes up and then down.

Newton holds his drink up high for safety but slides down in his chair, legs splayed out to expose the red bottoms of his baby blue sneakers. He falls into the guy next to him and feigns a heart attack.

Curry, who had 24 consecutive points and 28 overall in that quarter, meets up with Newton ("My guy," says Curry, calling him his favorite non-basketball athlete today) in the tunnel after the game. Curry spends more time meeting up with many people he has known far longer; his dad crammed 80 friends and family into an arena suite for the big night.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Them boys up to something. #Undefeated https://t.co/PFJnsAJwCc

The extra stuff can be enriching but also distracting. Amid all the hoopla, where does Curry—very much a creature of habit—go for some normalcy?

Well, there is one slice of regular life before tipoff.

With the lights low for Hornets player introductions, Curry heads to the scorer's table to stretch, as usual. There's plenty of space for Draymond Green to pick another spot to get loose, but Green goes right up next to Curry, as he often does.

They stand silently, their left legs propped up on the table. Curry sees something in the stands he finds amusing. He taps Green, points up and tells him about it. Green looks up, and they hold the moment for a beat.

Then they just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Dec. 4, 12:20 p.m. ET

After a day off in Charlotte—a full day of chill for Curry, who is thankful for "a very special time"—the Warriors hold practice at Johnson & Wales University. It's a small college—campus enrollment of about 2,000—in the shadow of the Panthers' NFL stadium. The court sits inside the campus fitness center, so plenty of students are around.

As the Warriors begin devouring five huge boxes and four big bags of catered Chipotle after practice, the Johnson & Wales men's basketball team takes the floor for its practice. The captain of the team comes up to Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who at 68 looks like the wise old sage of Golden State's team—and sort of is. ("He's been around the league a long time," Bogut says. "He's been around the world a long time.")

Jason Thompson, Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry (left to right) at their makeshift lunch table, eating Chipotle and laughing, outside the gym at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.
Jason Thompson, Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry (left to right) at their makeshift lunch table, eating Chipotle and laughing, outside the gym at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.Kevin Ding

The eager team captain asks Adams: "How do you do it? How do you get your team to play so together?"

It's a testament to the Warriors' way that the world is noticing what they know from within. They play with joy, and it's because they live with joy.

A fellow NBA coach even told Adams: "You guys are my favorite team of all time to watch."

"I get this from a lot of people: 'The team looks like it's having fun,'" Adams says.

"It's pretty true," he adds.

Adams answers the college kid as best he can, mentioning "like-minded people" and "a good give-and-take between the coaches and players."

Adams also says to the kid: "We have the advantage of having Steph as the flagship guy. A very unassuming, down-to-earth, encompassing person. A person who welcomes people in, has no airs about him. That's a factor, I'm sure.

"And we have other guys like that also."

When the Chipotle has been devoured, and it's time to board the bus for the airport, the college students who have respectfully tried to give the team its space to eat all line up along both walls of the corridor.

One of the first players in the procession out is Iguodala. He walks out stoically, jaw set and locked.

Nervous excitement flows on either side of him, yet no one is ready to be the first to say something. Suddenly, one young lady breaks the ice.

"Andre! I love you!"

At first Iguodala doesn't know how to react. He starts to smile a little.

Still, it seems he's going to walk on by…until at the last moment before he passes her, he swerves to the left and gives her a big hug.

The crowd goes wild.

When it's his turn to depart, Curry offers up his gray practice shirt to one student.

"You want this?" he asks.


That is the actual reply.

Then, practically in song: "Stephen Curry gave me this shirt. Stephen Curry gave me this shirt!" (And his friends try to grab it from him.)

Flocks of hardcore fans have begun waiting for the Warriors outside arenas and hotels for autographs or attention. But this atmosphere is different. The vibe on a college campus is pure energy—young people unafraid of experiencing new moments for growth, as nearly all Golden State's players know from spending multiple years in college.

Green stayed in school for all four years, Curry and Klay Thompson for three.

Another student is fortunate enough to get a verbal greeting from Curry. Of course, he later tells his friends all about it.

"After I talked to him, I didn't even ask him to sign."

"Aw, you got star-struck," he is told.

"No! We had had a conversation. I can tell what people I know are feeling."


Drake's hometown Raptors fell to Curry in Toronto, which turned out well before the game even began to witness Curry's shot-making.
Drake's hometown Raptors fell to Curry in Toronto, which turned out well before the game even began to witness Curry's shot-making.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Dec. 5, 3:53 p.m. ET

The Stephen Curry shooting session an hour-and-a-half before game time has officially become a thing.

It's exquisite to watch, especially because Curry throws in some eye-popping, skyscraping scoop shots and long launches from near midcourt these days.

He made 14 consecutive jumpers in Utah and is similarly captivating the Toronto fans. He's going around the world and has made it beyond halfway to the left wing.

Curry, however, doesn't shoot from right at the three-point line; he often shoots from as far behind the line as he can. That means, well, barely inbounds.

Thing is, an Air Canada Centre security guard named Masoud is standing barely out of bounds.

Curry shoots…and misses. Shoots and misses again. He glances over his left shoulder at Masoud's bright blue shirt to offer a subtle hint that he's standing too close, but Masoud is diligently facing away from the court, following proper protocol, and doesn't see it.

Third shot, third miss. The crowd rumbles at the surprising slump.

As the fourth shot goes up, Curry resorts to bumping Masoud lightly. The ball still doesn't go in, but Masoud feels the contact and looks behind him to see Curry. Ever the industrious soldier protecting the perimeter, Masoud only moves a couple of inches (or a few centimeters if you're using the metric system in Canada).

Still crowded, Curry misses again!

Suddenly, an arm reaches out and grabs Masoud and pulls him two full steps to his right. It's Kareem, the security guy closest to him, who has been watching and worrying.

"I don't want you to be that guy," Kareem tells Masoud.

Dec. 5, 8:01 p.m. ET

The Warriors have won again, and it's standing-room-only in the locker room after the game with Canadian media congregating to chronicle the latest American basketball rock stars.

Suddenly, a loud voice shakes many reporters waiting in there.

"Hoo! Let's go!"

It's so loud it scares people, but it's so crowded that it's impossible for many to know who's yelling.

"Yeah, you see it! You see it!"

Among the Warriors players, there was never any doubt who would be so voluble—and not in celebration of the Warriors' victory, either.

"Go Green and White!"

The Michigan State Spartans have yet to take the field for the Big Ten football title game against Iowa, but Draymond Green is still loudly cheering his college team from a nation away as the Spartans appear on TV in the stadium tunnel.

Green is sitting in a folding chair two feet from the lone TV in the room, still wearing his slate gray game shorts, ice packs on both knees and Nike flip-flops on both feet. He has a sandwich in hand.

During his MVP speech late last season, Curry said to Green: "You're the voice of the team."

Often, that's painfully true in decibel level—which is why the players almost gave formerly quiet and oft-spacey Klay Thompson the gold medal over Green for being the most "turnt up" at the extended team party in Las Vegas after the championship parade in Oakland.

But it's no gag how important Green's place is on this team.

In a group without cliques, he's the main connector—and he backs it up with basketball skills and what Myers calls a freakish "hatred of losing."

Green is as comfortable weighing the merits of Bojangles', Waffle House and Steak 'n Shake (be advised how superior the Waffle House locations in the South are than elsewhere, he says) as the psychological, sociological and political underpinnings of leading a group.

"You can't just hang around guys or associate with guys you feel are very similar to you," he explains. "In order to be a great leader, you have to be able to mix and mingle with everyone. You have to know how they react to stuff. You have to know how to talk to certain people.

"Can't talk to everybody the same way. Can't approach everybody the same way. Can't lead everybody the same way. Everybody don't respond to the same thing.

"Part of that is getting to know 'em. You're not going to get to know no one on the basketball court. So you've got to know how to relate to 'em in other areas.

"Then not only do you know them, they know you. I think that makes a big difference as well. It's a two-way street. In order to be led, guys got to want to be led, as well. Nobody really wants to be led by someone they don't know."

Right there, in a nutshell, is the explanation for how off-court chemistry transfers into on-court execution.

Green credits Michigan State coach Tom Izzo for teaching him how all that stuff works.

Go Green and White, indeed.

Dec. 5, 8:28 p.m. ET

After he finishes his postgame media session, Curry starts to head out. Waiting down the hall to visit with him is Drake, the noted musician and Raptors fan whom Curry gave a friendly stare courtside earlier after drilling a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 90-87 lead.

But before Curry can get there, writer Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle has one more question for Curry.

So it comes to pass that Drake stands idly by in his black hoodie…having been placed on hold by the NBA MVP who opts to talk to a newspaper reporter.

This underscores Kerr's broader theme about everyone in the organization being a worthwhile human being with a real voice. Curry pretty much treats people the same everywhere.

He singled out the equipment manager (Eric Housen) and team security guy (Ralph Walker) with extended accolades in that NBA MVP speech. He actually plans his charity endeavors instead of dropping in for a few moments to shake hands.

When a serious health issue sent Simmons to the emergency room during the 2015 NBA Finals, Curry sent him a Bible verse about endeavoring to find joy in the face of trials, even though Curry had his own problems at the time. The Warriors had just lost Game 2 at home, with Curry going 5-of-23 from the field and setting an NBA Finals record with 13 missed three-point shots.


Luke Walton was named the NBA's Coach of the Month for November despite the fact that all of his wins were credited to absent head coach Steve Kerr.
Luke Walton was named the NBA's Coach of the Month for November despite the fact that all of his wins were credited to absent head coach Steve Kerr.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Dec. 6, 5:09 p.m. ET

Klay Thompson is visiting with his uncle, Andy Thompson, on the court before facing the Nets. Klay's 14-year-old nephew, Marcus, puts up a pretty left-handed shot from three-point land: swish. Then another one: swish.

Klay just grins. The family prides itself on its shooting. Andy is a vice president for NBA Entertainment and younger brother of Klay's famous NBA father, Mychal.

Luke Walton knows about having a famous father, as well. When asked about his dad's view of the team his son has coached to a 21-0 record, Luke says Bill loves the Warriors' style, but his dad is very good at just being supportive and not trying to get involved.

Not that Luke needs much help these days.

He's far more comfortable in his usual black baseball cap worn backward and dropping the F-word in for timely emphasis, but Walton looks sharp in his suits and in front of the press. He's making this head coaching thing look easy.

He's doing it at 35, young enough that he was college teammates with Andre Iguodala and still gets a hand slap and a full hug from Draymond Green before tipoff like the players get.

Walton is the head coach for now, but he's also someone with an innate sense of player connections. Heck, Bill named Luke after one of his Portland teammates, Maurice "Luke" Lucas.

Luke Walton's favorite team of all time remains the 1985-86 Celtics, because he so deeply admired Larry Bird's willingness to share the ball with teammates such as Luke's dad. This Warriors team reminds Luke of that team.

And the chemistry of these Warriors, according to Walton, is even better than that of the 2009-10 Lakers, who repeated as NBA champs with Walton playing a supporting role behind Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher.

"We were really close, but there was still a little bit of separation from group to group," Walton says of those Lakers. "Our second unit was really tight. And some of the starters were. There just wasn't as much hanging out off the court on our team as there is on this team.

"These guys are hanging out together on the road. They're going to movies. They're going to dinner. And that's not the most important thing in the world, but it's a little thing that helps. That is important, in my opinion, as far as winning ballgames."

Dec. 6, 7:58 p.m. ET

Leandro Barbosa's fourth-quarter three-pointer puts the Warriors up 15 on the Nets, and Curry celebrates on the bench with some sort of robotic run with exaggerated arms. They look like whacked-out jumping jacks.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Up next - the Dubs head to Indiana for a Tuesday matchup with the @Pacers. https://t.co/0RWpjWFilY

Three little boys, each about five years old, are in the third row behind the Golden State bench. Their eyes are glued to Curry, and they see his little dance.

Immediately, all three of them begin to move in the exact same way, mimicking whatever it is that Curry is doing.

Arms up, knees high, smiles really big.

The "Be Like Mike" era is long gone, but this younger generation wants to be similar to Steph. Yes, Steve Nash already did a lot of this stuff, including the deep commitment toward team building, but Nash never won like Curry is winning.


Golden State Warriors @warriors

Family & friends made the 200 mile trek to Indiana from Peoria, Illinois to support hometown hero @ShaunLivingston. https://t.co/zGVjFcQPhn

Dec. 8, 9:41 p.m. ET

Fifty people representing Shaun Livingston's high school in Peoria, Illinois, make the four-hour bus ride in for the Warriors-Pacers game. Livingston especially wants the school's basketball team to see this elite level of teamwork.

Livingston, 30, is so unlike the flashy kid he was as a prep star. He was injury-prone back then, too, and maybe it has all turned out the way it was meant to for him: as a really good player in a less taxing role…but for a winning team.

The Warriors were interested in acquiring him for years and finally signed him before last season, becoming Livingston's 10th NBA stop.

Nevertheless, he got an early start on the process of being a meaningful teammate as opposed to a token one after signing. He reached out to the then-injured Festus Ezeli, whose knee complications had cost him the entire 2013-14 season. Livingston hoped his own experiences in recovering from a devastating injury could pull Ezeli up from the muck of negativity and insecurity.

That's the kind of stuff the Peoria High Lions should know about.

What they see is the Warriors winning again, but something else they miss is just as inspiring.

After the lead shrinks from 28 points to 16 points midway through fourth quarter, Thompson and some other starters are sent back in to win the game one more time. They do, but Thompson sprains his right ankle when he lands on Livingston's foot late in the game.

Livingston apologizes in the locker room but not for what you would expect.

After turning his ankle in a win over the Pacers, Klay Thompson missed only one game on the Warriors' seven-game road trip.
After turning his ankle in a win over the Pacers, Klay Thompson missed only one game on the Warriors' seven-game road trip.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Rather, Livingston apologizes for the second unit not holding the lead early in the fourth quarter. He takes the blame for Thompson even being on the court again and being at risk for the injury.

Thompson, who wound up in pain despite a ridiculous 39-points-in-30-minutes run through three quarters, doesn't accept the apology. He reminds Livingston how the second unit put the game away in Brooklyn two nights before.

"And it's a team game," Thompson adds.

Is this how life works in a more evolved society?

People work hard and hold themselves accountable rather than reflexively criticizing others, all while having fun or meaningful dialogue together in person—or in the hilarious or motivational group text messages the Warriors always have going?

Dec. 8, 11:20 p.m. ET

It's time for another team dinner after the game, this one at St. Elmo Steak House.

A celebration of a perfect season, one both rare and well done.

But first, one more quote from Livingston worthy of toasting, an understanding of who these guys are and where they're at.

"We're just enjoying this moment, and we're grateful for the moment. We understand it's not an obligation. It's a privilege to be here."


Stephen Curry has impressed Warriors personnel and media members alike with his willingness to answer almost every question in a thoughtful way.
Stephen Curry has impressed Warriors personnel and media members alike with his willingness to answer almost every question in a thoughtful way.Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Dec. 10, 1:30 p.m. ET

Perhaps if Steve Kerr were around, the Warriors would go off on some patriotic adventure in Boston as they did last season in Washington. They toured the Pentagon and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

But there's an extra event already on the schedule after practice: a media training session.

Kevin Sullivan, former White House communications director and Dallas Mavericks public relations director, brings a PowerPoint presentation and mock interview tutorial to ensure the Warriors' success isn't derailed by outside forces. One of the PowerPoint slides is titled: "CHAMPIONS IN THE SPOTLIGHT."

Sullivan tests Harrison Barnes on his ability to control his message when confronted with questions about turning down the Warriors' money to set up restricted free agency. Sullivan encourages Thompson to share more fun tales about his dog, Rocco, on social media.

Sullivan also retraces the recent missteps of Jahlil Okafor and the public mistakes of Colin Kaepernick (posting an Instagram joke about the deadly Houston floods) and Kaepernick yet again (tweeting at a critic, "you got eight followers bruh; your own family don't even want to know what you doin'! Get better at life!").

Maintaining a pleasant media face isn't always easy, even when it appears the games have been. There have been a few occasions during the trip when the players seem slightly weary of being asked how great Curry is, but it's hard to find dissent when everyone on the team agrees he's a great player and maybe a greater guy.

Warriors vice president of communications Raymond Ridder declares Curry the nicest guy he has ever known—not just in basketball but in his whole life.

Even Chronicle beat writer Simmons says of Curry: "He's a spectacular human being."

Yet as the demands and attention on him and his family mount, is Curry going to have to retrain himself?

He considers it part of his mission as a Christian to share religious beliefs that many don't want to hear. He looks reporters in the eye, even in mass sessions, and expends energy trying to answer even the most awkward questions.

While in Boston, the question comes at him: "What is the first thing you think of when it comes to Rhode Island?" Curry spends nearly 10 seconds searching, waiting for anything to come to mind. Finally, he says: "Tough question. I don't even know."

Dec. 11, 6:08 p.m. ET

Julian Edlow @julianedlow

Hundreds of people here an hour and a half before tip to watch Curry warm up. #Warriors #Celtics https://t.co/MeuA9C0jOt

Shaun Livingston comes out for his pregame shooting warm-up and is greeted by Warriors coaching staffer Nick U'Ren in the mock voice of a circus ringmaster.

"It's what you have all been waiting for," U'Ren faux-announces.

Livingston looks around at the mass of humanity surrounding the court. Curry is practicing his shot on the other side of the half court with assistant coach Bruce Fraser.

Livingston then dramatically throws his arms out to the side, tilts his head back and basks in the…utter disinterest in him.

He and U'Ren have a good laugh about it, but the Curry pregame show is only gaining strength.

ESPN posts a shot chart of the makes and misses of this Curry shooting warm-up session. What's next? Keeping stats of how many grapes Curry drops while eating them in the locker room before the game? Sometimes he puts them in a cup and tries to pour them directly into his mouth, which can be a low-percentage play, you know!

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Ever wonder how @warriors Stephen Curry shoots in warm-ups? Here's how he did tonight. That right corner...🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/DJhfrEnits

Dec. 11, 11:04 p.m. ET

After the Warriors' thrilling double-overtime victory, Green howls with pride in crediting two teammates, specifically.

First is Curry (38 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists), which is no surprise. But Green isn't acknowledging the stats as much as how Curry's level of competitiveness is being glossed over because his "dipsy-do" moves make everyone ooh and ahh.

"That man is one of the biggest competitors," Green says. "That's what makes him special—along with all the stuff you love."

The other teammate Green singles out is Leandro Barbosa (six points, one rebound, one assist). Why?

When it was determined Thompson wouldn't play because of his ankle sprain, Barbosa decided he would. He had been sick for days, sitting and shivering during practice the previous day with a white plastic CVS pharmacy bag in front of him and a puffy winter coat with a hood enveloping him.

Barbosa told the team that he would try to play and give the team what he could. He wound up being called on for most of the second overtime.

"We believe in each other. We trust each other," Green says proudly. "Nothing new. Same ol', same ol'."

It's in these moments one ponders how this puzzle might not have fit, how Dwight Howard or Kevin Love might have been Warriors, and if such lyrics of devotion would have been sung with a different roster mix.

The multi-superstar plan is understandable in the NBA, but would Barbosa be his full "L.B." with different team leaders? And would the team leaders be different without supporters such as Barbosa?

Consider what Bob Myers said when he brought up Barbosa's name earlier on the trip.

"Leandro Barbosa! You ask people around the league, and he's beloved. By everybody. I didn't exactly know it: Steve Kerr knew him from Phoenix. He's a joy to be around. He's a sweet person!

"People think that doesn't matter. Who you go to work with every day, who you compete with every day, if that is a good person and a joy to be around, I believe—we believe—you will be better at what you do by the fact that you're surrounded by good people."


After 28 consecutive wins, the Warriors' run toward history came to an end in Milwaukee, where the Lakers' 33-game winning streak ended in 1972.
After 28 consecutive wins, the Warriors' run toward history came to an end in Milwaukee, where the Lakers' 33-game winning streak ended in 1972.NBA Photos/Getty Images

Dec. 12, 10:03 p.m. CT

A postgame food spread is waiting in the locker room. No staying over for a team dinner at a local restaurant; no way. It's time to get home as soon as possible.

Too many legs had gone dead on the last night of these two weeks away. The Warriors finally lost. Everything—the beef empanadas, wild caught Atlantic salmon, stout-braised beef short ribs, citrus- and herb-brined chicken, cavatappi pasta with truffle Parmesan, bratwurst sliders and Korean fried chicken wings—is about to taste strangely sour.

Then the voice of the team speaks up, saying there is a positive to be taken home now that the streak is over. The pressure of cutting corners to win at all costs is gone, and the purity of building a better team through the regular-season process is available.

Once the steam from the nearby showers has filled and heated up the room, Green sits in front of his locker and starts killing some chicken wings before cleaning himself up. He acknowledges it's rare he formally addresses the team.

"Not too often," he says. "Like right now, I think it's a perfect time after everybody's been floating for so long. Now it's back to reality."

Green didn't think twice about speaking up this time.

"If something come from my heart, I'm gonna say it," Green says. "Because I think it can help this team."

Green is asked to look back and name the highlight of the long trip for him.

"My favorite part is always just spending time with my teammates," he says. "That may not be too exciting for your story. But that's always my favorite part. The dinners, the bus rides, the jokes before the game…that's always my favorite part.

"Y'all would want the Boston game to be the highlight. Nah, ain't no game going to be the highlight for me. It's the time with my brothers that I enjoy the most—because on the road, our families are not there, we just got each other. And we enjoy that time. That's where you build that camaraderie."

Dec. 12, 10:39 p.m. CT

Curry spent the moments after the Warriors' first loss of the season offering a welcome hug to Becky Hankel, a woman with cancer who had just lost part of her leg.
Curry spent the moments after the Warriors' first loss of the season offering a welcome hug to Becky Hankel, a woman with cancer who had just lost part of her leg.Kevin Ding

Curry is trying to squish all his stuff in and is mumbling something about being so sick of suitcases.

He worked so hard on his conditioning over the summer, and it's paying off…but he's drained.

Even though he agrees with Green about the silver lining and is proud his teammates aren't too down about the defeat, Curry did want this. After victory No. 28 in a row in Boston, Curry had quietly brought up "the 33 number" for the Lakers' all-time record streak and said: "How many times are you going to get the opportunity to do this?"

But he does all his interviews, offering nothing more than the usual slight head tilt when he doesn't quite agree with a reporter's point. It's all over anyway—the streak, the trip, the demands of his public.

Fly back to the Bay; a full day off at home with the family is coming, plus five consecutive home games. Let's go.

Wait. There's still that one thing he agreed to do.

A woman who is a big fan of his. Her cancer fight. The leg they had to amputate.

And, of course, Curry makes the time, hugs her warmly and poses for all the inevitable extra photos.

He knows what matters: the people around him.

Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.


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