Golden State of Mind Q&A with Tim Kawakami Part 1

We're keeping the Q&A's rolling here at Golden State of Mind to get you some insight from a beat writers' perspective about the Golden State Warriors and the Bay Area sports scene. Up next is Tim Kawakami, sports writer for the Mercury News who even has his own blog, Talking Points with Tim Kawakami. He writes in it at least a couple times a day, so once you're done here, drop by Tim's blog to get his take on all kinds of sports topics. For the Warriors, he always has the latest scoop and he's always got an opinion. His columns are entertaining, informative, and fun to read.

Here's a quick bio about Tim from his blog:

Tim Kawakami is a Mercury News sports columnist, often charitably described as moderately entertaining, occasionally topical and determinedly unfire-able. (We've checked on that last one.) He came to the Merc in August 2000, started writing a Page 2 column and migrated to a regular sports column.

Let's jump into the Q&A.

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Golden State of Mind: Before you covered the Bay Area sports scene you covered LA's. Which scene do you enjoy covering more- the Bay Area or our neighbors to the south?  

Tim Kawakami: LA's fun. LA's big. LA's wild. Had a ball in LA, covering the Lakers, UCLA hoops, De La Hoya, and on, and on... But the Bay Area is home, so there's no debate on this one for me. I grew up on McCovey, Montana, Phil Smith, Villipiano and Elway (at Stanford). The Phil Smith fade-away J... I can still close my eyes and see it. I can also see Rick Barry standing nearby not happy that Phil didn't pass it to him, but that's another thing...

I like writing in the Bay Area, about the Bay Area teams, because this is the stuff that made me a sports fan--and, I hope, a tough but fair sports reporter and analyst.

Golden State of Mind: Who's the best player to interview on the Warriors? Any good stories?

Tim Kawakami: I'll give you two answers: Best interview, when he's in a good mood, is Baron Davis, of course, he's not in a good mood often and lately he and I have not been buddies. But we go way back, we've been up and down since his UCLA days, and that might mean this cold spell will linger more than most--lots of history here. That also gives me, I'd argue, more insight into Baron's behavior. He's an incredibly smart, incredibly proud and incredibly mule-headed guy. That's how he was when he was 18. That's how he is, plus all those millions and a few pounds, now.

Best interview now that BD and I aren't talking? I'd say I enjoy talking to Biedrins the most, if you discount Foyle, because you all know that Foyle is a great, worldly man. But Biedrins is smart in a different way--first, he's so young, second he's confident but in a youthful way, third he's hilarious.

Best story with Andris is when I asked him a couple years ago if the Warriors should pay Tskitishvili to stick around. "Yes!" Biedrins said immediately. Why? "Because he's COOL!" Biedrins said. That's worth what? I said. "Millions," Biedrins said. "Come on, being cool is worth a couple million." And damn, he almost convinced me. Didn't convince the Warriors, though.

Golden State of Mind: Do you know of any Warrior players who would rather play for Coach Montgomery than Coach Nelson?

Tim Kawakami: No, I don't know any of the players who would rather that Montgomery was still around, and not Nelson. But to me, that's not a big deal, one way or the other. Every NBA coach has players who don't like him. Or most of the players. I never take the "player mutiny" thing too seriously, unless it's huge and unanimous across the locker room. Players can't stand Larry Brown, but they love it when he helps them win. When he loses, it's chaos, of course. It's about respect, though. Got to respect the guy, or it's bye-bye, eventually. If Montgomery could've helped them win, they were for him. When he proved he couldn't, see ya. On to the next guy...

Actually, if I had to guess one guy who might be slightly concerned about Monty to Nellie, it's Baron. Surprised? He owned Montgomery. He knew it, Monty knew it. Baron might not have loved playing for him, and I know Montgomery disliked coaching him, but Davis was the king of the Warriors. Now with Nelson, I doubt it'll be that clear cut.

Golden State of Mind: In your blog's Q&A with Don Nelson you noted that Nellie didn't seem too enthusiastic about grooming current assistant Mario Elie to be the next Warriors head coach. If Elie is not going to be Nellie's successor (a la Avery Johnson), any idea who is?

Tim Kawakami: I don't think Nelson wants a designated successor, at least not right away. Definitely not anybody as forceful and ready and respected as Avery. I'm not going to say that Nelson is angry about the way it happened in Dallas, but I think he was shocked by the speed of it and the credit Avery got for improving "his" team.

Although I think Mario Elie deserves to be thought of as a successor, I think whenever you designate a guy, you start the nudge--nudging out the old guy. Nelson's not going to want to go through that again. He wants to win. He wants the credit, maybe shared with Mullin. He doesn't want to feel like he's being nudged out when he hasn't even started yet. So no big Mario promotion, I'm thinking. Plus, Elie wasn't a Nellie guy back in the old days. We've all heard that.

Who comes after Nelson? Maybe Mario, but not as the official heir. Maybe somebody else. It won't be clear cut.

Golden State of Mind: Are the Warriors planning on starting the season with the same roster they have right now or are they actively looking to make some personnel changes?

Tim Kawakami: I think Mullin is always looking to make moves. Just don't see what's left to do, though. Unless you get junk and he shouldn't get junk.

Mullin thought he had Harrington (dang, I thought he had Harrington), but nobody saw Indiana exec Donnie Walsh pull that trade exception out of his sleeve until it was too late. That's why he's Donnie. And why Chris is not... yet. By the way, I do think New Orleans loves it that they enabled Indiana to snatch Harrington away from the Warriors after the Warriors crowed so much about the Baron deal. I definitely think that.

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We'd like to thank Tim for responding with some insightful answers. It makes it that much more fun to come up with the questions when you get great answers.

>> Check out Part 2 of the Q&A.

Tim's got his own blog, Talking Points with Tim Kawakami, up and running, so be sure to drop by and check it out.

** Definitely feel free to link to our Q&A with Tim Kawakami, but please do not freely distribute it across the web (i.e. copy and pasting it onto message boards). Doing so is copyright infringement. Here's the direct link to this piece: http://www.goldenstateofmind.com/story/2006/9/8/1357/71457
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