Off a soft pop up to the infield in the third inning of JaVale McGee’s JUGLIFE charity softball game, Stephen Curry bowled into a teammate causing both of them to miss what should have been a simple catch for a couple of professional athletes.
Instead, as the softball bumped into the turf behind him, Curry added more to the play. Laying out like Dennis Rodman saving a basketball, he dove back, retrieved the ball and winged a backhand toss that was well wide of the second baseman — two errors on one play.
Curry was playing like an over-zealous dad at the company picnic softball game. Which...is actually fitting in that this was about as close as you’ll get to seeing what a Warriors company picnic would look like. Organized by McGee and JUGLIFE charity co-founder Kez Reed, the game was a beautiful sunny day showcase of what makes this Warriors team so special all while supporting the worthy mission of raising water awareness.
And it was amazingly fun.
The Arrival: McGee the Statesman
Tucked underneath the fringe of the Oakland Coliseum, media milled about, patiently waiting for the players to arrive as the temperatures climbed on a perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon. Fittingly, the first Warrior to arrive was JaVale McGee himself, decked out in a Gucci fanny pack — always worn to the front, never the side — and wearing his 2018 NBA Championship ring on an understated gold chain.
This was his day, and the host was just as “on” as you would expect. He paused to take some fan photos before facing the bevvy of cameras and questions, waiting without any sense of haste while a man gathered in his son to get into the photo op as well. Only, because of his ludicrous size, when he shakes hands, they disappear into his enormous hands. For the kids, a “handshake” consists of McGee sort of pinching at their hands with his index finger and thumb, and it lights this kids face up like a Christmas window. Indeed, McGee played his statesmen role well.
McGee spent a fair amount of time speaking with the assembled press, discussing everything from his championships to his upcoming musical endeavors. Other players would shortly follow, streaming in with greater frequency as the game time approached. Curry brought his own bat and glove, quickly ducking past the throngs and disappearing into the bowels of the Coliseum to get game-ready.
Jordan Bell was forced to answer some questions about his parade day antics, until the arrival of Nick Young stopped everyone. Say what you will about his shot selection on the court, but Young’s bold approach to everything is a large part of his endearing charm.
JB and Swag Champ working the red carpet pic.twitter.com/Z7QzhXWVQz— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 23, 2018
One sad note: Kevin Durant was a last minute no-show. The party went on just fine without him, but the Bay Area weekend traffic seems to have robbed the game of one of the most pre-eminent stars.
The game itself
McGee is the perfect person to put on an event like this. All too often, events like this have a forced sense of camaraderie, but between McGee and Curry’s goofball personalities and antics it was clear that the people out on the field were having a genuinely good time.
Curry was tossing spin moves in with his warm-up throws, later in the game - when Zaza Pachulia dropped a ball during the pre-inning warm-ups, Curry first hung his head, then fell to the ground laughing. All game, these guys were in the fun-loving shenanigan mode.
The first big play was a lofting ground rule double for Curry (he did go on to hit a legitimate homerun later), but the game was defined more by the antics than the actual plays.
If you ever wondered what it would be like at a Warriors game if the results really didn’t matter, yesterday’s softball game gave some good insight.
Here’s McGee, getting hit by a pitch and leading a bench-clearing “brawl.”
Pierre 2-Time just trying to start something at his own softball game pic.twitter.com/d8X6q0Caor— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 24, 2018
Another good one: Bay Area rapper and icon E-40 brought a ghost runner. Captain “Save-a-[blank]” may not have been in much better shape to run, but he had an awesome cape and spent his time on base dancing to the stadium music.
The final score saw McGee’s team lose to the “visiting” squad led by Andre Iguodala and Curry. It was close, but Iguodala managed to squeeze past Curry for the game’s MVP honors, adding yet another trophy to his ever-expanding collection. Like all good casual games, there were allegations of some rather “creative” rule making and score keeping.
JaVale on the controversial ending to the game: “They won fair and obtuse. I wouldn’t say square.” pic.twitter.com/BbB4zpGEKK— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) June 24, 2018
It was a hot day out there, which made it a perfect day to advance the mission of McGee’s JUGLIFE Foundation: the importance of drinking water. Proceeds from the day will go towards the foundation’s continuing efforts, including outreach and education events as well as more direct actions like installing water wells in Africa, or working in McGee’s home town of Flint, Michigan to assuage their ongoing battle for clean water.
This softball game was the perfect synergy of cause and celebrity: giving fans a fun day in the sun with some of their favorite Warriors players while raising awareness of one of the most basic fundamental needs that often goes overlooked.
Be sure and drink plenty of water in this heat folks. And be sure to give some regard to those who can’t just pop into any store for a chilled bottled water, or are forced to live without a clean tap in their homes.