OAKLAND — As the Warriors inch toward their third playoff appearance in 20 years, players and coaches are wearing their anticipation of the postseason on their faces.
Sparked by the occasionally-bearded Andrew Bogut, the Warriors are letting their facial hair grow out until they clinch a playoff berth.
After practice Tuesday, forward David Lee — sporting a beard solid at the chin but wispy at the sides — said his teammates’ unity in facial hair is just another indicator of Golden State’s strong chemistry:
“Everybody’s in on it. It’s just another sign that the team is all together and everybody’s having fun with it. … The worse it looks, the better it is for the team.”
A semi-shaven Mark Jackson said he was skeptical at first over the scruffiness, but was convinced after team veterans went along with the plan:
“I thought when they presented it to me, I said no way it’s gonna pass. There’s going to be some veteran who will say, ‘that’s ridiculous, we’re not doing it.’ But the great thing about it is, to a man, they all bought in. It shows just how tied together they are.”
A friendly disagreement emerged between Lee and Jackson over whether trimming — or “lining” — of beards were allowed. Lee said no, but Jackson admitted to a bit of cleanup over the weekend:
“You can line it up. On Saturday, when I got a haircut, I had to get a rule interpretation.”
Even with the touchup, Jackson apparently had some explaining to do at church:
“I had my congregation look at me like I was crazy on Sunday. “
Also under dispute is just how long the beards are going to last. Lee said the original plan was to wear the beards until the team clinches, but some are lobbying to keep the beards throughout the Warriors’ prospective playoff run like in hockey:
“There’s some chatter about continuing through the end of the playoffs… The guys that are bald and then have the beard, such as R.J. (Richard Jefferson) are going to lobby the hardest to have us shave once we clinch so they can get rid of it. … Just another sign that the team is all together.”
Swingman Brandon Rush — lost for the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee just two games in — buoyed teammates spirits’ last week when he visited Oakland to participate in the team picture. Jackson says Rush is still on track to return for training camp. … Center Andris Biedrins was treated to some musical, dancing birthday wishes from his teammates after practice. At 27, the fresh-faced Latvian has played nine years in the NBA.
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.
Nine years! Seems like just yesterday…