The NBA took a moment before Game 2 of the Finals to remember Muhammad Ali, the charismatic former boxing champion who died Friday at age 74.
Before tipoff, a brief video tribute to Ali played on the scoreboard. The crowd at Oracle Arena then was asked to observe a moment of silence before Carlos Santana, accompanied by his wife and drummer Cindy Blackman, performed the national anthem.
Warriors consultant and Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Jerry West briefly became acquainted with Ali when they competed in their respective sports on the U.S. Olympic team in 1960 in Rome. West, who spoke at length Saturday about his respect for the three-time world heavyweight champion, said he has read several books about or authored by Ali and was awed by Ali’s courage.
“The things he went through … ” West said, shaking his head, before Sunday’s game. “I can’t even talk about it right now.”
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The things he went through … I can’t even talk about it right now.
Warriors consultant and NBA legend Jerry West on Muhammad Ali
Several members of the NBA TV broadcast crew, including Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill, wore “G.O.A.T.” (Greatest of All Time) T-shirts during their pregame show. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement Friday saying that Ali “transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights and social justice.
“While we are deeply saddened by his loss,” Silver said in the statement, “Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on in every athlete who takes a stand for what he or she believes.”
Sweet Beats – After the Cavaliers lost Game 1 of the Finals to trail in a series for the first time this postseason, LeBron James deployed some motivational tactics.
James gave each of his teammates gold-plated Beats by Dre headphones accompanied by an inspiring message, according to forward Richard Jefferson, who shared a picture of his gift on Snapchat. The message: “You have worked, trained and dreamed of this moment. It’s your time now.”
Coach Tyronn Lue apparently was not among the recipients. Asked about the move before Sunday’s game, Lue grinned and said, “I didn’t see the headphones.
“But I heard he gave the guys some, which is great. LeBron being here (in the Finals) six straight times, it’s unbelievable. He’s been here; he knows what it takes. Guys are looking to him, and he’s been helping guys out throughout this process.”
Temper, temper – Warriors coach Steve Kerr earned some bemused attention after Game 1 for destroying his whiteboard in a fit of anger during a second-half timeout. Before Sunday’s game, Kerr was asked what gets him most riled up during games.
“Probably turnovers,” Kerr said. “What makes me the most angry is careless play. It goes both ways, offense and defense. Careless turnovers drive me nuts. Losing vision on a backdoor cutter and giving up a layup drives me nuts. So I don’t know if it’s weighted any different, but when we lose focus, that’s what gets me upset.”
The Warriors committed six turnovers in the first quarter of Game 2, leading to five Cleveland points.
Et cetera – Warriors forward Draymond Green became the fourth player in franchise history with at least 500 rebounds in his postseason career by grabbing two in the first quarter Sunday. The others are Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond and Clyde Lee.
4 Warriors, including Draymond Green, with at least 500 career rebounds in the postseason
▪ Dell Curry, the father of two-time NBA MVP Steph and Kings free-agent guard Seth, attended Game 2 wearing shorts and sneakers – and a large brace on his left leg. His explanation: “I broke my kneecap and tore my patellar tendon a few months ago.”