Warriors, Blazers focus on charities, gaming, skills on conference finals anniversary

Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers stars are in a very different place now than they were at this time in 2019, as players provide basketball lessons, stream video games and raise money those impacted by COVID-19.

One year ago, Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green each recorded triple doubles to lead their team to a Western Conference finals sweep of the Blazers and clinch a spot in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors went on to lose to the Toronto Raptors in the championship series, which denied the franchise a chance to win three consecutive titles.

Golden State dispatched of the Blazers without the help of Kevin Durant. The two-time NBA Finals MVP strained his right calf in Game 5 of the prior series. He also missed the entire NBA Finals series.

Durant now is a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Several other Warriors and Blazers stars also switched teams last off-season and now live in other cities.

All of the players have been shut in their homes, like the majority of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, because NBA facilities and gyms were closed. But they’ve used technology and their resources to make a difference and entertain their fans.

Curry gives lessons

Curry, the Warriors’ sharpshooter, ignited for a game-high 37 points and had 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead his squad to the 119-117 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals last May 20 at Moda Center in Portland, Ore.

Curry returned to the Warriors just before the NBA’s March suspension after he missed time due to a broken left foot. He now gives lessons for shooting, dribbling and passing from the outdoor basketball court at his house.

Curry also has used his social media platforms to educate others about the coronavirus pandemic. He had an Instagram Live chat March 26 with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The question and answer session had nearly 50,000 viewers, including former President Barack Obama. Former Warriors players Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa and singers Common and Justin Bieber also tuned in for the Instagram conversation.

“I appreciate everybody chiming in because I think this is really dope,” Curry said during the chat. “I think we all can take some of this information that we’re going to hear, pass it on to our inner circles.

“And then have that information trickle down to everybody that you know. Because information is power and this is such a timely conversation I think in terms of what we can do.”

Curry also has been an active fundraiser for COVID-19 relief. His efforts included a donation of 1 million meals to an Oakland school district and a fundraiser launched for Feeding America.

Turning to gaming

Meyers Leonard recorded a team-high 30 points and had 12 rebounds for the Blazers in Game 4 last year. Leonard — who now plays for the Miami Heat — posted an Instagram story video Wednesday of his performance from Game 4.

He is also one of several players who has turned to gaming. Leonard streams his Call of Duty Warzone games on Twitch so fans can watch.

He hosted a video game tournament May 1 called the Hammer Classic, which raised more than $175,000 for Feeding South Florida and Feeding America to help provide food for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament also featured fellow NBA players Ben Simmons and Josh Hart and Pittsburgh Steelers star JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Stephen Curry’s younger brother, Seth Curry, was also a member of the Blazers last year. He signed with the Dallas Mavericks this off-season. Curry has also been a Call of Duty: Warzone streamer and led his team to a win in an April Call of Duty tournament that raised nearly $7,000 for coronavirus relief efforts.

Former Warriors guard Quinn Cook — who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers — also has been gaming during the break. He asked fans to join in on a pro-am league for Madden and NBA 2K20 at the beginning of May.

Poor chances

The Warriors had the worst record in the NBA at the time of the suspension at 15-50. The Blazers were just outside of the playoff picture at 29-37. If the NBA decides to resume its season and jump to the post-season immediately, both teams would miss the playoffs.

As of May 19, 14 teams had reopened their training facilities for voluntary workouts. More teams plan to open their facilities this week, on a limited basis. Sources told the New York Times and The Athletic that Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas have been discussed as sites being considered for a centralized-location return for the league in July.



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