Warriors bring broadcaster Jim Barnett back after underestimating how important he was to the fans

OAKLAND – Warriors television analyst Jim Barnett announced he would return for all games next season in his 30th with the team, tweeting that he was “unretired.”

The mutual agreement before last season that would have ushered Barnett away from the television booth and into a role as a team ambassador did not go through in part because of the fans, Warriors president Rick Welts said Monday.

Welts said initially the plan was to celebrate Barnett’s final season as a full-time broadcaster.

“When we sat down with him (before last season), we actually thought we had a great game plan in place, and I think over the course of the year we in fairness probably underestimated just how important he was to the fans, and I think he underestimated how much as he got closer to actually stepping away how much he would miss the day-to-day of being on television,” Welts said. “So I think it came to a totally appropriate great conclusion that we’re thrilled about and he’s thrilled about.”

Barnett, who turns 70 next week, was “overwhelmed” by the support from fans, who tweeted using #KeepJim and #keepjb.

“He got a lot of love, which was very deserved and part of the plan at the beginning, but I think how he was looking at it and what we heard from the fans, I think it made it a very, very welcome conclusion at the end to bring him back next year,” Welts said.

“We listen to our fans on everything, and as long as he was willing, to come back in the role he’s going to come back in is going to be great.”


Warriors’ Stephen Curry expects his Under Armour signature shoe to be released in early 2015

ALAMEDA – Stephen Curry’s Under Armour signature shoe is in production and is likely headed for a release at the beginning of 2015, the Warriors guard said Monday.

“I’ve seen it here and there with updates and things like that,” Curry said at Leydecker Park, where he and Under Armour and the Warriors partnered to refurbish a basketball court. “It’s supposed to stay on the low until it’s ready to be released, but that’s a dream come true to be able to be a part of the design, the development of your own shoe that’s going to be your inspiration.”

Curry, who participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil a court that features his personal logo, is the face of Under Armour’s basketball division. He left Nike for a multi-year partnership with less-established Under Armour in October coming off setting the NBA record for made 3-pointers in a season.

“Just from Day 1 our relationship with them, they’ve always preached a commitment to family and dedication to everything that we do we try to be the best at it,” Curry said. “So I like that fight, that underdog mentality they have. It hits right at home for me. Everything that we’ve done has been top notch.”

Curry and Under Armour this week held the first SC30 Select Camp , allowing 20 top high school guards from around the world to work with the Warriors star at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School.


Warriors look to preserve Oracle Arena atmosphere in San Francisco with seats closer to court

OAKLAND – Warriors president Rick Welts called this past season “an unqualified success” from a basketball and business perspective.

Despite firing their coach after not advancing past the first round of the playoffs, the Warriors did make it to the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time in 22 years. The Warriors also entered into an agreement to purchase land in San Francisco’s Mission Bay for a new arena slated to open in time for the 2018-19 season.

Welts knows that while the Warriors go for an NBA championship, the team also achieved a degree of certainty in purchasing private land. The project is doable as the team no longer has to wade through the politics of building an arena on the public property on Piers 30-32.

“The things we can focus on now for the arena are much more – how should I say it – rewarding,” Welts said Monday on the final day of the team’s fiscal year.

Golden State, which was recognized by the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily as the “Sports Team of the Year,” now can turn its attention to designing what co-owner Joe Lacob has said will be the “best arena in the world” and one that doesn’t lose what Oracle Arena already has.

“The issue is will we maintain the same atmosphere?” Lacob told KGO-TV earlier this month. “That is something that I worry about every single day. We’re concerned in the sense that I don’t want to make a mistake and have it not be the same atmosphere.”

Welts said he would call it “a mandate to architects” that the atmosphere at 19,500-seat Oracle Arena not only be preserved, but perhaps enhanced even though the design has not yet been finalized on a new arena that seats about 18,000.

“We believe we’re going to be able to say that every seat in the new arena is going to be as close if not closer than every seat currently is in Oracle,” Welts said.

“One of the ways that we’re going to accomplish this when we haven’t shown a lot of the interior design is that there will only be one ring of traditional suites instead of two stacked like at Oracle or at Staples (Center), where there’s three stacked suites. That really gives up the opportunity to more than maintain the intimacy.”

Welts said there is a design trick involved — he declined to reveal it — that would enable the new arena to have almost exactly the same number of suites on only one ring while fans get closer to the action. The goal is to have a smaller arena not be “too cavernous,” which is what Lacob said is the case at Staples Center where fans sit high up from the court.

Warriors fans are apparently responding to the team’s success on the court and the promise of a new arena, with the team having renewed 92 percent of its season ticket holders for next season. Welts said having a renewal rate of more than 90 percent for any team is “extraordinary.”

While the Warriors had a season ticket wait list of 5,300, about 1,000 of those seats were filled by fans from the wait list able to select seats this past weekend.

“Our hope is that we’re going to be bringing the fans that make Oracle such a special experience with us (to San Francisco),” Welts said, adding that he expected the vast majority of season ticket holders to renew for the new arena.

“Giving up your seat now makes it very unlikely you’re going to get a seat back when we make the move, so I think people are excited about the team, but I also think they’re protecting their real estate.”


Warriors’ summer league team expected to include ex-Vanderbilt teammates Rod Odom, Festus Ezeli

Vanderbilt forward Rod Odom will join the Warriors’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, Commodores assistant coach Tom Richardson tweeted Sunday.

The 6-foot-9, 212-pound Odom is expected to reunite with Festus Ezeli, who played for two seasons in the same Vanderbilt  frontcourt.

Odom after averaging 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds as a senior took part in a pre-draft workout with the Warriors earlier this month.


Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson have Splash Brother shooting competitions, ‘good chemistry’

PEBBLE BEACH – Is Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson the better 3-point shooter?

Informally, the question has been raised during post-practice shooting competitions in which the ultra-competitive Splash Brothers bonded.

What formed was a healthy relationship between shooters who pride themselves on being the best at their craft and respect one another. They’re good together and have set records together. One of the best shooting backcourts of all time is what the Warriors would lose if Thompson is traded for Minnesota’s Kevin Love.

“To have a guy that can shoot the ball as well he can, it really pushes me to be sharp and focused and to shoot the best that I can because if I don’t then he’s going to beat me,” Curry said Saturday. “So we definitely push each other. We’ve been growing together for the last three years, and it’s been really fun.

“He makes me a lot better on the court knowing that I can throw it to him anywhere and he’s usually going to shoot it and make it. We have a good chemistry going on. The Splash Brothers name is also pretty cool as well.”

Mychal Thompson, Klay’s father, said earlier in the week on the ESPN LA 710 radio show he co-hosts that Curry and his son enjoy playing with each other and spend time off the court golfing together. Mychal explained why Klay isn’t jealous of Curry’s 3-point shot.

“I actually ask him and say, ‘Who’s the best 3-point shooter?’He says some days he beats Steph. Some days Steph beats him,” Mychal said.

“That’s how good both of them are.”


Stephen Curry excited about Warriors’ championship potential, recharged as Steve Kerr makes good impression

PEBBLE BEACH — Warriors guard Stephen Curry has had time this offseason to get away to reflect, swing golf clubs and process a coaching change he didn’t want to happen.

Curry said Saturday at his overnight basketball camp, where he stayed nearby at co-owner Joe Lacob’s house, that he is recharged and excited about next season.

“I’m able now to look forward to the upcoming year and what our team’s going to look like and our coaching staff as that becomes more concrete and understand what we have in the task in front of us,” Curry said.

Curry, who had publicly supported Mark Jackson before his firing, met with new Kerr and heard about the vision for an offense that will “obviously be a new system.”

“He has a plan,” Curry said. “Like I said, he’s done his homework. He knows what he wants as a coach. And he studied on the Spurs. He studied on the triangle offense and how to get different sets going, so I’m sure we’ll have kind of a hybrid of all those and lot of pick-and-roll and uptempo.

“We have weapons. That’s the thing is any system he really wants to implement, we have I think weapons to make it happen.”

Kerr has gone out of his way to meet the Warriors’ players, even flying to Australia to get together with Andrew Bogut in the big man’s native country.

“I think the fact that he’s taken time to reach out to every single player and understand how important it is to get that connection coming into next season, get off on the right foot and for each player to know what he expects of them when it comes to roles and expectations on the court, I think it’s good,” Curry said. “And he’s definitely been diligent in that process — from the time he signed on as coach to now  – of you’re not just having that title but actually going out and doing things he needs to do to be ready.”

Curry said he had spoken with most of his teammates in the offseason and found them to be energized for the coming season as well.

“We’re all excited about taking advantage of the window we have as a team,” Curry said. “Coaches change, but when you have a unit and a core that’s going to be sticking together, it’s our job to take advantage of it regardless of the situation, so that’s kind of our motivation. We’ve tasted a little bit of success in the playoffs the last two years, and we want more.

“We have our eyes set on a championship, and the lessons we learned this year we’re going to put to the test next year…I’m very excited to get back to war with my teammates and see what we can do.”


Warriors’ Stephen Curry takes Bob Myers’ words to heart about ‘not playing hero ball’

PEBBLE BEACH – Warriors guard Stephen Curry dined with general manager Bob Myers earlier this month and got some direction as to how he can improve.

Myers discussed how Curry as the point guard could get his teammates going when they’re struggling rather than try to dominate a game himself. Curry heard the message loud and clear.

“Bob made a good point just saying, ‘Try to continue to get better at finding ways to make our offense flow and not playing hero ball and making sure that we get the guys involved as much as possible,’” Curry said Saturday at Stevenson School.

“And that makes (us) a more consistent basketball team in trying to go through those down periods throughout the course of a season – even in the playoffs – that you need to get through. And as a point guard, I’ve got to take that as a responsibility, so a lot of film study and just communication with now Coach (Steve) Kerr about how he sees my role.”

Curry in his fifth NBA season led the league with 261 3-pointers while averaging a career-high 24 points per game. But what was also a career high were his 3.8 turnovers per game.

Curry, who vacationed in Scotland before attending his basketball camp, said he had “a pretty diligent plan” on his offseason strength work and on the mental side.

Curry also continues to work on his shooting, usually going for 300 makes per day, he said.

“For me I’ve been looking always (to) get better,” Curry said. “Even now, I feel like I can continue to get better at shooting the basketball. Nobody makes 100 percent of their shots, so until that happens, you can always get better and finding different ways to expand that skill set, whether it’s shooting off the dribble or moving without the ball or catch and shoot. Just working on your stand-still spot shots. There’s always something that you can do to get better, putting up as many reps until your arms get tired and then at that point shooting a little more.”