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Exclusive interview with Diamond Leung, author of Golden Boys

Leung is featured heavily throughout the San Jose Mercury News' commemorative book honoring the Warriors' first championship season in 40 years.

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Golden Boys is a must-have for any Warriors fan who wants to celebrate the 2015 NBA title.
Golden Boys is a must-have for any Warriors fan who wants to celebrate the 2015 NBA title.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Mercury News has written a brand-new book commemorating the Warriors' first NBA title in 40 years. Titled Golden Boys, it's available at bookstores throughout the Bay Area and on Amazon, and features columns from the beginning of the regular season through the glorious ending in Game Six of the Finals. There are recaps from each game of the Playoffs, as well as profiles on Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, regular season MVP Stephen Curry, and head coach Steve Kerr, and other interesting gems.

As the beat reporter for the paper during the 2015 season, Diamond Leung is featured prominently in the book, and he was nice enough to answer some questions I had about the book and his time covering the Warriors. This interview has been edited for clarity.

How did it feel to cover the Golden State Warriors' first championship season in 40 years?

It was incredibly rewarding to be able to tell readers how this championship was won. Having covered most of the practices, shootarounds and games this season, I was able to not only witness history, but also put it into words so readers could come along for the ride. Certainly there were many plane rides and nights away from family even before an extended playoff run, but that's all part of the grind and sacrifices of doing this job.

Why are you passionate about professional basketball and the Warriors?

From the time I started in journalism, I wanted to be a beat writer and get an opportunity to break down a locker room and have the platform to tell the stories that come out of that access. Having grown up in the Bay Area, I've been fortunate to be able to do all that while serving readers in my hometown. That means a lot to me, and it inspires me to work hard. Breaking news and telling unique stories are responsibilities that drive me to do this job well.

What did it feel like to go back to all your articles over the course of the season in preparing this book?

Many of those stories stuck out in my mind, so it was fun to take a step back and reflect upon all that had happened. Stephen Curry emerged into the MVP. Steve Kerr went from rookie coach to a champion once again. Klay Thompson scored 37 points in a quarter. Draymond Green went from second-round draft pick to a fan favorite. These things actually happened, and they happened in the same season as everything went right for the Warriors.

Why did you want to write this book?

It was a way to put my thoughts together and recap many of the top moments from an unforgettable championship season. It's great to have a platform to share all that I saw with readers. It was a true team effort during the playoffs working alongside with our talented columnists, editors and photographers, and the book is a reflection of that.

What was your favorite moment of the regular season? The playoffs?

I touched on the most striking moment during the regular season in the introduction. It came after Steve Kerr set the record for wins by a rookie head coach, and the team surprised him with a rare outburst of unbridled joy and doused him with water in celebration of the achievement. Here was the team showing the new coach just how much it appreciated him after the controversial firing of Mark Jackson. And for Kerr, there would be many more big wins to come.

In the playoffs, the game-tying 3-pointer from Stephen Curry from the corner against New Orleans really stands out. The Warriors had shown their ability to bounce back all season long, and in the playoffs, they managed to do it in a memorable way. There was Curry, the MVP, making a big shot while getting hit out of bounds. The Pelicans were sunk after that.

At the start of the season, did you feel that this Warriors team could win the championship?

I thought there was an outside chance, but that there was a long way to go given that in recent years they hadn't yet gone as far as the Western Conference finals. General manager Bob Myers has talked about how even though things were going well during the season, he was instinctively waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's how I thought as well - that in some ways it was too good for the Warriors to be true. The one person that talked championship even during the offseason was the supremely confident Stephen Curry, who was ultimately proven right.

What makes Steph so special?

His ability to have balance in life is something you don't often see. He's considered the best shooter in the world, yet stays unfailingly humble off the court. Steve Kerr compares Curry to Tim Duncan in that way. Curry has the ultimate confidence in himself on the court, and that propelled him to have the ultimate season by collecting an MVP and championship trophy. And yet in public, he manages to treat people like human beings.

This season, who was your favorite player to cover on the Warriors? Favorite coach? Why?

It might be an uncommon answer, but covering Marreese Speights is fun. He tells you exactly what he's thinking and has a good sense of how the team is feeling in general. He represented the highs and lows of an NBA player perfectly. He dealt with questions about being in shape and got into legal trouble in the offseason. He emerged into "Mo Buckets," becoming a reliable player off the bench despite having his playing time fluctuate. Now he's a champion. As far as coaches go, assistant Ron Adams has a good way of describing aspects of the game that might be unseen to the common fan and explaining why they matter. He's a lifer who takes pride in his craft, which is player development and helping young people get to where they want to go.

Diamond Leung is on Twitter, and you can follow him @diamond83.

Follow @samsorkin23 on Twitter.

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