Fishing skills

Warriors’ chilling skills give them key edge in NBA playoffs

The Golden State Warriors have mastered the art of cold weather, giving them an edge over their rivals in the hunt for a championship.

The NBA playoffs are an emotional roller coaster. For fans, it’s exhilarating, but for gamers, it can be debilitating. So players – with one notable exception – seek to avoid thriller highs and killer lows.

The ability to find that shelter from the storm is a skill that can be developed and perfected. The Warriors’ core group of veteran stars have spent years mastering this art. This is their sixth trip to the Western Conference Finals in the past eight seasons.

Maybe we can all learn some life lessons about dealing with pressure by studying Team Chill.

It helps to have a steady hand behind the wheel, and the Warriors have coach Steve Kerr, who quietly earned his black belt as a player in five successful NBA title runs.

“A big part of managing the playoffs, as a player and as a coach, is managing the noise, managing the passion that’s there,” Kerr said recently. “The NBA playoffs are so complicated that getting through, if you go to the finals, it’s literally two months where you play a game, there’s a lot of noise, you wait for the next game to start, you play again, there is more noise.

“So you have to have the ability to focus and walk away from that, whatever that means. I recommend players not to read anything (about the playoffs), not to listen to anything. Watch a movie, read a book, go golfing, whatever you can to relieve some of the natural stress that comes with high-level competition, and get away from it all, because it really doesn’t help. .”

Stephen Curry says he walks into every playoff game with emotion at “that 10 out of 10 level.” Between games, though?

“You can find ways to keep things normal outside of the locker room and the arena, try to keep life normal, so you can slow down that way,” Curry said during the opener against Denver. “Yesterday, I was telling my wife that I had forgotten how long the playoffs really lasted. We haven’t even played five games yet and you’re thinking, ‘All the fuss, all the noise, in just that amount of time.’ … You have to pace yourself between games so you don’t mentally exhaust yourself.

Curry has been known to sneak in a game or two of golf during the playoffs, and he has three busy kids.

“It’s spring break,” he said, “so there’s a lot of energy in the crib right now. That’s probably all I have time for.

The Warriors’ King of Chill has to be Klay Thompson. During the playoffs a few years ago, Thompson pulled himself out of a slump by diving into the ocean off Santa Monica, prompting Curry to note afterwards, “The Pacific Ocean is undefeated. “

Since then, Thompson has upped the ante by purchasing a boat, a 37ft he calls (among other names) “Splash Express”.

“Fortunately, I have boating and fishing,” Thompson said, “and being on the ocean is a great remedy for that (strain). (As do) doing things other than basketball — read a book, take a walk. There’s more to life than the Internet and NBA Twitter. You just have to realize that you can’t bring work home all the time.

Thompson likes to dive into his basketball prep work, eat well and sleep well, all that corny stuff. Meditation is part of her routine, “even if it’s only five or ten minutes a day. It’s really yard to calm your mind; it’s a skill, it’s something you have to practice for years, and I try to do that.

On a recent day between games, Thompson went swimming and then went to brunch, basking in the excitement of the fans he interacted with.

The boat, however, is his new tranquilizer.

“Yeah,” Thompson says wistfully, “it feels so present, it’s so quiet there, especially when you cut the engines. You just have the waves crashing or the wind blowing. It sort of resets you; one feels so small in the universe.

Klay mentioned reading. Can he recommend a good relaxation book?

“Oh man, my favorite book is about fishing. It’s called ‘Blue Water Hunters’ (actually ‘Last of the Blue Water Hunters’ by Carlos Eyles), it’s amazing. It’s about a man by the name of Carlos who does a lot of crossings of (the) Catalina (Channel). The good thing is that it is a local island, right next to Los Angeles. I like the ocean, so it takes me to a beautiful place. And it’s also an easy read.

And now we come to Draymond Green, who, unsurprisingly, is the cold weather warrior. When I asked Green what he was doing to get away from the noise and pressure of the playoffs, he got so upset it looked like he might need a sedative.

“I don’t get away from it,” Green practically shouted. “I live there every day of the playoffs. After the playoffs, I will be exhausted, exhausted emotionally and mentally, even more than physically, because I don’t try to get away from it.

“I can take every blue moon in the playoffs one day, say, ‘Okay, I gotta get away from this,’ but you gotta inhabit that, you have to To feel that, you have to breathe this. You cannot escape this. If you make it through the playoffs, you lose your mojo.

Green took a breath and carried on, practically beating the podium.

“All you have got to go there if you’re trying to win a championship. … My family feels it, my friends feel it, everyone around me feels it. I don’t get away from it. What am I trying to get away from? A championship ? (There are) enough guys (who) run away from this, I don’t need to join this group.

“So, no, I live and breathe this stress every day, all day. I don’t come home right after this (workout and media session) and I’m like, “Oh, man, I’m free.” Like, no, I’m doing something to get ready for tomorrow, all day, until I go to bed. That’s how you have to win a championship. You have to stay inside. If you can’t stay there, you don’t deserve to win, you won’t win. »

So does madness energize you?

“One hundred percent.”

Green said he realizes the whole basketball world is watching, including every other NBA player.

“There is no better feeling than that, as a player. You know everyone is watching you? You have to accept that. So for me, why would I want to get out of this? Once I get out, we go back to Game 1 of the regular season, which is boring. … So, no, I kiss it, I love it, nothing like it.

So there you have it: lessons from the masters on how to relax or stay warm. Remember, it’s not the destination, it’s the means of transportation you use to get there – boat, book, golf cart or maybe the front car of the roller coaster.

Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: sostler@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @scottostler