Kevon Looney

Why Looney won't ‘complain or cry' about falling out of Dubs rotation

NBC Universal, Inc.

With six weeks remaining for the Warriors to escape the grip of mediocrity, Steve Kerr realized he had to make a change. Time for a new starting lineup and, for the first time in ages, rotations that excluded Kevon Looney.

There is discomfort in telling a veteran who last season led the NBA in offensive rebounds and had played in 289 consecutive games that he would be moving to the far end of the bench. There was comfort in knowing Looney, a rational man with impeccable character, would take the news in stride. He did. Two weeks later, he still does.

“It's all about winning here,” Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “It's been all about winning since I've been here, and I've seen a lot of guys making sacrifices, guys that are better than me. So, who would I be to complain or cry and not carry on the tradition of being a great teammate?

“I feel like that's my job. I'm going to keep doing that and when the time comes that Steve needs me to go out there and play again, I’m going to go out there and try to play at the highest level I can.”

Looney said this with his chin held high and a smile, courtesy of his friends at Invisalign, that radiated peace and pride. As Kerr and his teammates would expect.

“I think Loon has set a tone for us for years regarding unselfishness and commitment to the team,” Kerr, citing Golden State’s positive team chemistry, said after making the change. “He's crucial for that.”

Looney saw a struggling team and was willing to do what was asked, particularly if it benefited the Warriors. After nine seasons in the league, being a member of three championship teams, he realizes personal sacrifice usually is essential to team success.

The 6-foot-9 center has appeared in only two of the seven games since the move was made on March 6. A total of 23 minutes, considerably fewer than his season-high 35 back on Nov. 18.

“It’s definitely different,” Looney said. “When you're out there, you can feel it a little bit more when you're on the court. But you kind of get a little bit biased as to what's actually going on. Sometimes, you feel like, ‘Oh well, if I was out there . . .’

“I didn’t feel like that. When you’re watching from the sidelines, you just see the bigger picture a little bit better and get a different view of the game and what's going on.”

It’s conceivable that Looney will at least return to the rotation. The Warriors are in yet another tailspin, having lost four of their last six games, which could result in Kerr going back to the lab to experiment.

For now, Looney is the 11th man, maybe the 12th, in a rotation that goes no deeper than 10. For now.

“I know how it goes,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s going to be your time. Sometimes, it's not going to be your time. And you’ve got to put your pride aside, put yourself aside and cheer for the team and be ready to win.”

Looney, 28, has said that he’d like to spend his entire career with the Warriors. Both teams he was on the market as an unrestricted free agent, he failed to get much interest from other franchises and re-signed with the team with which he held the highest value.

With the Warriors facing a summer of considerable change, Looney’s fate is unclear. His commitment is not. He’s a team-first player. Nobody appreciates that more than Kerr.

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