Top story lines in NBA are tied to the War­riors

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - SCOTT OSTLER

When Steve Kerr re­cently said of his team and NBA peo­ple in gen­eral, “We’re all ac­tors in a soap opera,” he was close to be­ing cor­rect.

More cor­rectly, the War­riors are ac­tors in the soap opera. The rest of the NBA, and the sports world in gen­eral, is off-Broad­way.

It’s like in Shake­speare’s “As You Like It,” where Jaques says, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely play­ers, ex­cept for the Golden State War­riors, who

are such play­ers that they make the rest of us look like slack­jawed yokels in the top bal­cony, en­thralled by the show.”

Be­fore Sun­day’s game against the Heat, Kerr was asked his opin­ion of the Gi­ants’ pur­suit of Bryce Harper.

“I’d love it if Bryce Harper came here,” Kerr said, en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “Does my opin­ion mat­ter? Bryce, come to the Gi­ants!”

Shortly there­after, MLB sent an of­fi­cial tweet, “We have fined Steve Kerr $50K for tam­per­ing.”

Cute, but I bet when MLB heard of Kerr’s com­ment, it ac­tu­ally said, “OMG, Steve Kerr is talk­ing about us!”

Kerr’s com­ments fu­eled ru­mors that the head coach, an ad­mit­ted Dodgers fan, is work­ing to get Harper to the Gi­ants in hopes that Harper’s tem­per­a­ment and huge con­tract will blow up the Gi­ants and help the Dodgers.

Kerr doesn’t seem de­vi­ous, but those are the peo­ple you have to watch out for.

The War­riors were quiet Sun­day evening, although they had to scrape to beat the so-so Heat 120-118, com­ing back from a 19-point first-quar­ter deficit.

It got ex­cit­ing when Kevin Du­rant hit a dra­matic step­back 3-pointer with 44 sec­onds left to tie the game 118-118. That put the War­riors in po­si­tion to win for the 15th time in their past 16 games, but more im­por­tant, it pretty much as­sured that Du­rant, with his 39 points and that key 3, would ap­pear at the postgame news con­fer­ence.

Those postgame ses­sions can be pretty boil­er­plate and snoozy, but Du­rant’s ap­pear­ance af­ter the pre­vi­ous home game was high drama, as he crit­i­cized the pry­ing me­dia.

This time, it was mel­low Du­rant, calmly an­swer­ing ques­tions about the game. No point in ask­ing him where he will be next sea­son.

But that’s in­evitably the un­spo­ken ques­tion, and right now, it’s at the heart of the soap opera, which is at the heart of the NBA.

It’s not just that the War­riors have stirred up things this sea­son, with the Du­rant-Dray­mond Green con­tretemps, and now with the ten­sion around Du­rant and his fu­ture.

It’s that the War­riors are so good, so im­por­tant, that they star in ev­ery scene of the NBA soap opera, even when they are not di­rectly in­volved.

When re­ports and ru­mors pop up, es­pe­cially any buzz about stars and su­per­stars chang­ing teams, it all comes back to the War­riors. Any in­stant su­perteam formed be­fore next sea­son, be it the Lak­ers or Knicks or some­one else, it’s all about at­tack­ing the War­riors’ dy­nasty.

The War­riors might pre­fer to march to­ward the playoffs with a min­i­mum of fan­fare and out­side noise, but they don’t get to vote.

What they will not ad­mit, though, is that all the clamor and buzz about where Du­rant might go, or whether this All­Star cast can achieve its per­sonal nir­vana, is good for the War­riors.

Bore­dom is the War­riors’ worst en­emy (see: last sea­son), and su­per-easy wins, a placid locker room and a touchy-feely me­dia con­trib­ute to a cli­mate of seren­ity that could spell doom.

For­tu­nately, when there are lulls in the Du­rant drama, the War­riors have DeMar­cus Cousins, the Hu­man No-Doz pill. Work­ing Cousins into the team chem­istry has be­come an on­go­ing story line, and it has en­er­gized the War­riors. Plus, it’s hard for the War­riors to go on cruise con­trol when their big cen­ter plays like a run­away freight train.

Even when he still looks rusty, as he did Sun­day (seven points, three re­bounds, one as­sist), he doesn’t dis­ap­pear.

Early in the game, Cousins had the as­sist of the year. Klay Thomp­son went up for a midrange jumper but saw Cousins rolling to the bas­ket and passed to him. But Cousins wasn’t look­ing, the ball bounced off his head and back to Thomp­son, and he hit a jumper. Jose Canseco had to like that one.

Stephen Curry said af­ter the game that the War­riors’ of­fense is still in “a feel­ing-out process,” as Cousins is blended into the mix. The whole league is watch­ing that process, qui­etly hop­ing the War­riors don’t get it all fig­ured out, be­cause that would be dis­as­trous for other teams.

Right now — re­fer­ring back to that Shake­speare speech about the seven stages of man — the War­riors’ with Cousins are in their in­fancy, “mewl­ing and puk­ing.”

As they work to­ward a higher place, the league watches, hop­ing the for more mewl­ing and puk­ing.

Speak­ing of Cousins, where’s he go­ing to wind up next sea­son?

Car­los Avila Gon­za­lez / The Chron­i­cle

The ad­di­tion of DeMar­cus Cousins (head­band) to their lineup makes the War­riors even more prob­lem­atic for op­po­nents.

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