Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dear Sports Fans: What you need to know about the Golden State Warriors...

Dear Sports Fans,
There is something you must know about the Golden State Warriors. No it's not that they are the tenth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals (in a 7-game series). I'm not talking about their point guard—the unanimous choice for MVP who now ranks at No. 34 on ESPN's list of the world's most famous athletes. It's something I'm not entirely surprised to have read or learned and yet it's just one more reason to love legendary 73-game winning team. Here it is: the Dubs are fans of women's sports. 
As sports fans, we know a lot about our favorite teams. My good Lord, I can tell you where Coach Steve Kerr gets his morning coffee and where he plays golf. I now know that Draymond Green has an 8-year old daughter and may talk to his former college coach, Tom Izzo more that Izzo's wife does. I love that the Warriors attend chapel before games and that they pull pranks on one another. Indeed we learn a lot about the interests and habits of star athletes and coaches. But do we know who they admire? In addition to his parents Sonya and Dell—who sit in the stands at nearly every game—who else does Steph look up to? Who do the Dubs follow? Thanks to several distinctive articles, I can answer these questions.

Draymond Green, the who graced the cover on the May 23, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated is also the subject of a lengthy piece by Lee Jenkins. In "The Giant Killer: Draymond Green dares you to define him," Jenkins writes
He chills out by watching basketball—specifically women’s basketball. “In the NBA there’s always a guy who is only around because he can jump,” Green says. “He doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake.” 
Those who know basketball are not surprised by Day Day's comments. When I shared this with a colleague, a basketball coach, he immediately quipped "Klay Thompson is a regular at WNBA games." Glad to hear it. I wonder if he's friends with Jerian Grant, another fan of female athletics and the WNBA. 

But it's not just their own sport that the Warriors follow. The number one women's golfer in the world "Lydia Ko dropped by the Golden State Warriors practice facility to promote April's Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco."  According to the article "On the Beat" by Alan Shipnuck, an excellent golf writer, "When Ko's managers first approached the Warriors the reception was lukewarm...until Curry caught wind and said he was dying to met her. 'And if Steph gets excited about something' said one team official, 'then we get excited too."I wonder if Steph, a talented and competitive golfer holding a 2-handicap, asked Ko for some tips to improve his game. I look forward to watching him play at the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament this summer.
But Steph isn't the only LPGA fan. The surprise starter in Game 7 against Oklahoma City, the same player who was named the 2016 Finals MVP, Andre Igoudala claims to be a huge fan of women's golf. He said "I watch it all the time time. I bet I can name to top five in the World Ranking." To which the crowd said, "prove it."
He shot back, "Inbee is number two, Lexi [Thompson] just took over number three. Behind her is Stacy Lewis. The fifth spot belongs too..."
"You forgot number one," said Shipnuck.
Andre laughed and said "She's standing right there."

I play a lot of golf. The PGA is one of my very favorite sports to watch. I coach a girls' golf team and I don't think I could have named the top five golfers in the world. Iggy, we already love you for so many reasons, you surprise us all the time and your following of the LPGA is no exception. I can't wait to watch you defend LeBron... again. 

A friend and I recalled a funny memory from our childhood. In the 1980s, Virginia Slims, a cigarette brand that targeted female smokers sponsored a very popular professional women's tennis tourney (strange to think now of smokers and sports going hand in hand). I was able to serve as a ball girl when it was held at the Oakland Coliseum, known today as Oracle Arena. I still remember standing on the court behind Mary Jo Fernandez and Gabriella Sabatini. I would love to know if there were any Golden State Warriors in attendance. Unfortunately, part of me thinks not. But as their motto suggests "You've Come a Long Way Baby." That goes for both the Dubs...and women's sports.

Photo Credits
Ko and Iggy

VA Slims
Steph and Lydia

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