OAKLAND - While a parade of players took turns sitting at a rostrum and answering questions from reporters at Warriors Media Day last Friday, a carnival was raging behind them.
You could hear a nonstop banging and clanging and rumbling from offstage. And if you ventured back there, it was nothing like the staid ordeal of conversation in front of the curtain. There was both motion and commotion on the Warriors’ practice courts. Players dribbled and palmed basketballs for photo shoots, cameras flashed and people scurried in every direction.
The money shot came when Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson — the Big Four that carried the Warriors to the championship three months ago — posed together. Bring it in a little tighter, the cameraman suggested.
“Act like we like each other?” Green replied with a mischievous smile.
And after the group splintered and the camera dude asked Durant and Curry to stick around for a couples pic, Draymond took mock offense. “Why can’t me and Klay get a picture together? We’re jealous,” he said. He found it so funny that he repeated the complaint to Durant.
“Uh-oh,” Durant said. “Trouble in paradise.”
They have us figured out. And when I say “us,” I’m not referring only to the media. I mean the capital “Us,” as in all of us. With a few stubborn exceptions — what’s up, Charles Barkley? — we all admire the Warriors. We all believe they had those two championships coming. But we’d really love to see a little trouble in paradise.
Face it, the upcoming NBA season, which begins for these guys on Oct. 17 after a couple weeks of sporadic preseason games, will be much more interesting if the Warriors encounter some obstacles. They won 16 of 17 postseason games en route to the title last season, and seem only to have gotten better since the end of June.
So we look for turmoil. And in the echo chamber of the NBA offseason, we found fragments of it.
Durant is the most obvious example. This guy always seems just a little bit cooler, a little more poised, than the rest of humanity. But this summer he deposited his size-18 sneaker directly into a pile of nonsense.
First, in late August, he taped a podcast with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and, when the conversation turned to shoes, said this: “Nobody wants to play in Under Armours, I’m sorry. Like, the top kids, because they all play Nike.”
Whatever, except that (a) Durant represents Nike and (b) Curry, his most important and beloved teammate, represents Under Armour.
Durant wasn’t done. Just last week, he tweeted mean things about his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and former coach, Billy Donovan, apparently thinking he was using a fake “burner account” when he was actually on his verified Twitter account. Oops.
The two incidents painted an unsympathetic portrait of Durant. He’s disloyal to his former team, the one that helped make him a star. And he’s disloyal to his current team, the one that made him a champion.
But Curry and Durant understand something that so many other public figures don’t: When you do something stupid or humiliating, get in front of it immediately and it will likely blow over as quickly as it flared.