Saturday Sports: Tensions Among Golden State Warriors Players

Nov 17, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some weeks, I just kind of wade through the news to be able to say time for sports.

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SIMON: The gold standard, Golden State Warriors, play the Dallas Mavericks tonight. But is their greatest foe a quarrel between two of their stars? And, hey, anybody here want to host the 2026 Winter Olympics? Hey there, Duluth, you hear us? Are you just going to stand there with your hands in your pockets? We're going to turn now to Howard Bryant of espn.com and ESPN The Magazine. Howard, thanks very much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. And how are you doing?

SIMON: I'm fine. Thank you. There is real bad feeling between Draymond Green of the Warriors, who has used what I'll refer to as intemperate sexist language, to question the commitment that Kevin Durant has to their team. But is this just part of what comes with winning - that pressure?

BRYANT: Well, that was very artful - very artful description there, Scott. Yeah, I think that...

SIMON: Thank you. I worked at that one, if I say so myself.

BRYANT: What you've got is that the Golden State Warriors are human, after all, and I think that the challenge of winning these championships and to be a great team is starting to show. And I think that the other part of it, too, is that everyone knows that Kevin Durant can be a free agent at the end of the season, and they had a blowup. And there's no question at all that this is not just run of the mill we're part of the family disagreement here. These two guys had a real blow up, and it's about a real issue, which is about Kevin Durant's commitment to the team, even though he is the best player on the team. He's the one of the greatest players who ever played the game. And this is the - this is sometimes what you see at the end of a dynasty. It'll be very interesting to see how they play going forward because it is early in the season. But this is a major fracture. Steph Curry's injured, so when he comes back, maybe they'll get some unity there. But for a Draymond Green to question - essentially to say that Kevin Durant had one foot out the door for a team that is easily one of the greatest teams that we've ever seen in the history of this game is no small thing.

SIMON: He's got to be looking at the Lakers and LeBron, right?

BRYANT: (Laughter) Or the Lakers or the Knicks or wherever he wants to go or to stay in Golden State. Once again, any team that's got Kevin Durant on it is going to be a championship contender. He's that good.

SIMON: Yeah. Quickly, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors played last night - a real thriller in overtime. The Celtics won 123-116. Are we looking at the finalists for the East?

BRYANT: You sure are. At least, you should be, and Milwaukee is in there as well. But you saw a playoff game last night - playoff-level intensity. Toronto had beaten the Celtics earlier this season. The Celtics knew they had to get this game. They're trying to find their way in the East. And I've always said that the NBA is the best player wins game, and right now, Kawhi Leonard of Toronto is the best player to me in the Eastern Conference. And Kyrie Irving reminded everybody not so fast. This was playoff-level intensity. Anyone who saw that game saw something really, really special. I'm looking forward to seeing what these two teams do as they go forward for the rest of the season.

SIMON: Howard, they can't seem to give the 2026 Winter Games away at the moment. There are lots of cities saying no. I had some fun mentioning Duluth, which actually would be a brilliant choice if they're interested. I don't know if they have the space or hotel rooms. But what are the reservations that a lot of cities have?

BRYANT: Well, the reservations are that this is a scam. It's done. This is - the allure of hosting the Olympics is not what it used to be. The money is as severe as it's been before - as it's ever been - in terms of the cost. If you look at what happened in Brazil, the infrastructure - it sits there. For the Summer Olympics, it's been sitting there, and it's overgrown, and it's unused. And the bang that you're supposed to get for having the Olympics - it just doesn't come back in terms of getting your money. So it's not something that's as prestigious as it sounds. And I'm really happy, actually, in this this time of private companies and sports teams really shaking down cities to get team - or to get teams or to get the Olympics that there's pushback. This is not what it should be.

SIMON: I mean, are resort towns and dictatorships all that want to host the games at this point?

BRYANT: Well because those are the - those are the last places where you actually do, where the dictator wants to show that his city or state or country has some sort of prestige on the world stage, that's where the - that's where the allure is. But for established places, the money - it's just not worth it.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.