Warriors to Enter Eye of Communal Storm in Sacramento

The Warriors don't know what kind of reaction to expect Saturday morning when they enter Golden 1 Center for shootaround. They'll discuss the game plan, warm up a bit and conduct interviews ahead of a game scheduled to tip off seven hours later.

As for what's going to happen at noon, or in the hours leading up to that 7 p.m. tip against the Kings, the Warriors have no idea.

But if that tip doesn't proceed as scheduled, they'll know why.

Sacramento is the latest in a lengthy list of communities where in recent years long-simmering distrust between people of color and police exploded after officers shot to death an unarmed black man under curious circumstances.

The killing of Stephon Clark on March 18 has become a national story; California's state capital has not been under such bright a spotlight since 2002, when the Kings and Lakers staged an epic seven-game Western Conference Finals.

That was, 16 years ago, when Sacramento's hopes turned to agony when the Kings fell short in heartbreaking fashion.

This is, this month, a case of a nation's agony bleeding beneath a thick layer of hopelessness.

"It's just another kid taken away from his family and friends," Kevin Durant said Friday afternoon, before the Warriors boarded a bus to Sacramento. "His life was taken away for who knows what? It's a tragedy, man, and it sucks. Sucks to hear about it. And you continue to hear about it time in and time out and nothing's really is been done about it."

Clark's death -- some of the details of which were released through police officer body cams -- follows so many similar tragedies, and though the Warriors have made no grand statements regarding the specifics of previous similar cases, this one hits closer to home.

Former Warriors forward Matt Barnes, a Sacramento native still involved in the community, has been active in the aftermath. He attended Clark's memorial service Thursday and he'll participate in a rally at noon Saturday at a local park for the purpose of gathering the community to discuss officer shootings of unarmed people matter as well as general area crime.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, a former minority owner of the Warriors, has made personal and professional commitments, including setting up education funds for Clark's two children and pledging collaboration with Black Lives Matter Sacramento and Build. Black. Coalition.

Then, too, the Warriors -- players and coaches and executives -- happen to employ some of the most socially conscious individuals in American sport. And they have nothing at stake in the game. They're locked into the No. 2 seed, while the Kings are destined for another trip to the lottery.

"I mentioned to our players yesterday that if they wanted to be part of anything that's going on, that it's something they should discuss," Kerr said. "We haven't really talked about it as an organization. Bob (general manager Myers) was going to reach out to Vivek and have that discussion."

Barnes has formed an alliance with the Clark family, even offering financial support. Popular among teammates in two different stints with the Warriors, he reached out to friends on both the Warriors and Kings in hopes of gaining their support, if not their presence, on Saturday.

"We know how important that is and we definitely want to support Matt and everybody that's trying to make a stand," Durant said.

"I know the Warriors and the Kings both play that night, so I'm going to try to talk to both sides and, you know, the game at this point kind of doesn't really matter," Barnes told USA Today on Thursday. "The (postseason) positions are already set, so I'm hoping they can come out and support."

Recent Kings games have been affected as demonstrations in downtown Sacramento over the past few days have terminated at Golden 1. With a heavy police presence and demonstrators forming a circle around the arena, fans have had difficulty getting inside.

The first game after the demonstrations, last Sunday against Boston, resulted in players from both teams making a public service announcement in a nearly empty arena. There were a few more fans inside for the Kings-Mavericks game on Tuesday and nearly 12,000 showed up Thursday for the Kings-Pacers game.

In the wake of the revelation Friday from a medical examiner that Clark was shot eight times, with six bullets entering his back, it's altogether likely there will be a reaction on Saturday.

Maybe Golden 1, a popular destination for Warriors fans, will be filled to capacity on Saturday. Maybe, it will be half-filled with half-interested fans. Or maybe there will be full engagement, with admirable recognition of a pain come all too familiar.

"I'm sure as a community, just as Americans, we're all going to stand together and try to fight through this and, hopefully, come to a solution," Durant said. "It's terrifying. You never know what can happen to anybody when they leave their house. It's crazy what's going on."

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