Here is a link to my Monday column about the Warriors’ biceps. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — Warriors players flex their muscles. Not all Warriors. Mostly Draymond Green and Stephen Curry make muscles after a big play.
They stand on the court in front of the screaming home crowd and bring their hands toward their heads making their biceps rise. They hold the pose like a couple of Arnold Schwarzeneggers when he used to body build. You’ve seen Green and Curry cop that move. You saw it Saturday against the Pelicans. Big bicep day for Green and Curry.
It is unusual for a so-called finesse team to exhibit this level of muscle mania. So, I asked about it. Picture Sunday’s media session at the gym, players sitting on high chairs surrounded by reporters, microphones in the players’ faces. Think about what the muscles mean. While you’re doing that, picture Steve Kerr.
Me: Coach, when you were a player and you made a big shot in an important game, did you ever make a muscle?
Kerr: I didn’t, but that was because I didn’t have one.
Kerr laughed at his muscle lack. Reporters laughed.
Me: I knew you’d say that. I’m following up. When Draymond and Stephen make a big shot and make a muscle, what does it signify to you?
Kerr: Well, with Draymond it looks right. With Steph it looks ironic.
Me: Why ironic?
Kerr: Because his muscles are about the size of mine.
To summarize: Green is a legitimate muscle-maker. Curry, not so much.
Imagine me walking over to Green’s chair with my muscle question in mind. Imagine Green smiling. He likes to talk, likes to explain things.
Me: Draymond, sometimes when you get excited on the court, you make a muscle. I understand you’re doing it because you’re happy and exuberant. What does it mean to you when you do that?
Green eyeballed me. Was this a trick question?
Green: You just get caught in the moment. You show emotions. I’m a guy who’s always going to show emotions. I’m an emotional player. I’m a high-energy guy. You just do things in the moment. It’s not something you plan to do.
Me: Does it mean that you’re feeling strong at that moment?
Green: No, it just means you made a strong move.
Hmm. That seemed like a very fine distinction.
Me: So it has something to do with strength.
Green: No, not really. Making a strong move has nothing to do with strength. You can be super weak and make a strong move. You just had a glimpse of strength.
To summarize: Green makes a muscle after a glimpse of strength. He’s also pretty strong.
Imagine me walking over to Curry. Imagine Curry seated on that high chair like a bar stool with a back. Imagine him polite and patient, the most normal superstar on Earth.
Me: Steph, when you make a big play and then you make a muscle on the court, what does it mean? What are you trying to say?
Imagine a pause. Imagine Curry staring at me. Imagine him considering the question the way he considers all questions.
Curry: It’s more of a demonstration for my team to try and get us going. You feel strong in that moment and you like to show it.
Me: Steve Kerr said it looks really cool when Draymond does it, but when you do it, it looks ironic.
Nervous laughter from the media.
Hearty laughter from Curry along with a shake of the Curry head.
Curry: Seriously. I don’t know, man. I’m going to keep doing it. I’m going to do some pushups and I’ll be ready.
To summarize: You can tease Stephen Curry.
Imagine one more player before we arrive at the big summary – what all this is leading up to. Imagine Andrew Bogut on one of those chairs, Bogut who loves to joke.
Me: When Draymond and Stephen make a big play, they make a muscle sometimes. I’ve never seen you do that. Why don’t you?
Bogut: Why don’t I?
Me: Yeah. I mean you’re bigger than they are.
Bogut: I am. Yes. It’s a good point. Not sure. I’ll probably get in the weight room a little more.
Me: Have you ever felt motivated to make a muscle?
Bogut: I yell and scream sometimes when I get really intense. I stare at my left hand. If I make a nice shot with my left hand, I stare at my left hand.
Me: Like to say thank you?
Bogut: Like it’s not supposed to do that.
Me: What do you yell and scream?
Bogut: Nothing profane. It’s after a big block or a big dunk in a high-pressure game. Maybe I’ve made a couple of mistakes beforehand and you make a big play you just let it out, just yell.
To summarize: Bogut is a screamer, not a muscle-maker. Not entirely true. Photos exist of Bogut running down the court doing a down-low flex, hands near his knees, biceps popping. But he’s not a stationary poser like Green and Curry. And stationary posing is the problem – well, it can be a problem.
If done incorrectly, the stationary pose rubs it in. You slam dunk or block a shot or hit a 3, and you stand there flexing. An opponent can feel you showed him up. In baseball an opponent would assume you showed him up. Payback would come quickly. A fastball to the ribs.
Basketball is not a payback culture like baseball. Thankfully. But it is a culture with codes and protocols. It is a culture with clear on-court manners.
For starters, if you flex your biceps, you never ever stare at the player you just dominated. You look at the crowd, at the roof, at your teammates, at the floor. You show the gesture is not personal. Not a putdown.
Because making muscles while staring down an opponent is taunting. And taunting is a technical foul. It is a fool’s move.
There’s more. There’s the issue of the “line.” A winning team – a team of winners — doesn’t cross the line to taunting. Green is a clean player and a good guy. On the Warriors, he comes closest to toeing the line. But he doesn’t go over it.
Well, he might have gone over the line on Saturday. He scored a layup over Anthony Davis, then stared at Davis and flexed his muscles. It was part of Saturday’s broadcast, included in the TV replays. You can see it on YouTube. It’s public record. Not smart to antagonize the Pelicans’ best player. Not the suggested defensive tactic. Not what Kerr and Green’s college coach Tom Izzo teach.
Warriors coaches talk about the line. Explain to Curry and Green and Bogut and the rest that real strength shows itself in restraint. Winners know how to act. Know how to respect the opponent. To respect the game.
The bicep-flexing Warriors might keep that in mind when they eliminate the Pelicans.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.