Warriors! Come out to play…..
The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of one of the greatest NBA seasons ever.
They have the No. 1 defense in the league—and the No. 2 offense. (Yeah, you read that right.) Their backcourt consists of two of the NBA’s consistent shooters, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, both now All-Stars. In his first season as a coach on any level, Steve Kerr has the Warriors off to their hottest start in franchise history, a 42-9 record that tops the entire NBA.
But it’s what this team does when they aren’t playing basketball that some Warriors say is unheard of in the NBA: They eat together.
“In the 26 years I’ve been in the league, I find it to be very rare.” –Associate head coach Alvin Gentry
The Warriors actually go out to dinner on the road. Instead of trekking off on their own—like most players, especially on losing teams—the Warriors have made a habit out of huge team meals. It isn’t unusual for their team outings to draw 10 players or more.
“Chemistry is not something you can fake,You either have it or you don’t.” –Warriors forward David Lee
Golden State’s unusual technique for team bonding wasn’t one of Kerr’s coaching masterstrokes. At no point this season did his staff suggest anything like this, Gentry said. The players say there is a much simpler reason for their team dinners: They just like being around each other.
Players say that this kinship matters more than ever. One of the spoils of winning is that successful teams tend to stay intact, said Lee, and that continuity can make good teams even better. “I think there was probably a time in sports when you could put a bunch of jerks together and they’d find a way to win,” he said.
Their list of restaurants this season includes a steakhouse in Chicago, an Emeril Lagasse restaurant in New Orleans and Cheesecake Factory.
But there is still one question at the end of each dinner: Who’s paying?
Everything is cool until the check comes. Then the players pool their credit cards. They’re pulled out of a hat one by one. The owner of the last one left is stuck with the entire bill.
“Credit-card roulette,” Curry said. “It’s a game of choice.”
But none of the Warriors actually chooses the credit cards. They have to ask a waiter or waitress to referee their post-dinner game. “You can’t trust anyone to pick the card out,” Lee said.
These games of credit-card roulette get intense. Players say they only order food they plan to eat—the guy who gets steak and champagne could end up covering the entire tab—but the bill can still add up. Warriors forward Draymond Green once screamed to celebrate not losing. “I haven’t lost yet,” he said as he knocked on wood in the team’s locker room.
No one likes losing credit-card roulette, but no one hates losing more than Ezeli. This, his teammates say, makes it even funnier when he does lose. Ezeli, whose $1.1 million salary is toward the bottom of the roster, happens to have the worst fortune on the team. “I’m just mad,” he said. “They can see it. They’re more excited when I lose.”
Some of the team’s stars say they’re actually relieved when their plastic is pulled last because they know they can afford it. That happens often to Curry, who said he is the second unluckiest player on the team. Still, there are no exceptions. Veterans won’t volunteer to pick up the check, although they do allow for some relief. “We might let the [rookies] split it up,” Lee said.
At this point, Bogut said, the Warriors’ sizable dinners are in the double digits, including a handful with almost the entire team. But there are always some no-shows. Earlier this season, after beating the New Orleans Pelicans, the players walked into a restaurant there and saw a table full of people they weren’t expecting: the Warriors’ coaching staff.
“They don’t invite coaches,” Gentry said. “When they invite us, it’s only because they want us to pay.”