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How the Warriors embrace innovation of Silicon Valley

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Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) — The Golden State Warriors are undoubtedly the best team in basketball — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson & Co. proved it last year after capturing the team’s first world championship in four decades, and reinforced it this season while winning a regular-season record 73 games.

Now, the Warriors are facing off again in the NBA Finals against a familiar foe, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Golden State’s success has been heavily contingent on the skills of their players, some of it can also be attributed to a five-year bet the franchise hedged on technology. A wager which has likely transformed co-owner Joe Lacob’s team into a perennial NBA contender for years to come.

Lacob and the Warriors were among the league’s first to install cameras at Oracle Arena that track each time a player touches or shoots the ball during a game. During practice, Warriors players wear monitors that measure their heart rates, movement and stamina. And as days pass, the team is continuously implementing new technologies into their everyday routines, including a new “smart” sleeping mask.

In the world of sport where the old adage of not trying to reinvent the wheel is still a fixture, the Warriors are trendsetters in the technology of sports as much as Curry is shooting the three.

“You can play on the probabilities or just stand pat,” says Kirk Lacob, an assistant general manager who oversees the team’s analytics staff and is the son of Joe Lacob. “We choose to take the risks.”

The official transformation began in 2010, when the elder Lacob, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, and Peter Guber bought the team for a record $450 million. Their purchase coincided with the same time basketball teams had just begun exploring new analytics options for the sport.

Along with the Warriors, the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks began collecting data that stretched far beyond the basic metrics basketball had relied upon since its inception: how many points a player scored and how many rebounds he collected.

Golden State kicked off their efforts by installing SportVU, a six-camera motion-tracking system which hung from the rafters of the arena. The system allowed the Warriors to analyze every dribble and pass each of their players made during a game, along with his speed, distance between teammates and miles run in a game. Reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry, for example, runs about 2.4 miles during the 34 minutes he averages per game.

Now, all 30 NBA teams use SportVU, and every team additionally keeps a specialist on staff who can summarize the data collected — a privilege the Warriors didn’t have when they first implemented the system, they had to learn on the job as they went along. During their first two years using the system, Golden State won fewer than half their games.

In the days since Golden State has learned how to properly collect the data, the team’s winning percentage began to climb consistently. They won 57 percent of their games in 2013, and 62 percent in 2014. Last season, the Warriors won 82 percent of their games, and 89 percent of the regular season which just ended.

Head coach Steve Kerr with players during practice.

Head coach Steve Kerr with players during practice.

The Warriors have been complimented for their unselfish style of play on the court, “Strength In Numbers” is the team’s slogan, and everyone has a common job and role in winning another championship. While the Splash Brothers have been pegged as the league’s premiere marksmen, the Warriors dish the ball so often that forward Draymond Green is considered to be a nightly threat to collect another triple-double.

In sports, the most minuscule movements of a player can speak volumes to his fatigue or potential for injury. The Warriors consider this information as important as any other piece of information they collect on their players.

During practices, players wear a small monitor produced by Catapult Sports that tracks their movements during the session. The monitor is worn underneath a compression shirt between the shoulders, and detects pressure on the knees and ankles, and if players are moving at their usual fitness levels.

“Back in the day, we were just able to say, ‘He’s breathing hard, he might need to rest,'” says the Warriors’ Thompson. “Now [coaches] can actually see if you need a day of rest or you need to go harder.”

Lacob says the information is vital in allowing coaches to monitor workloads and prevent injury to their players.

“You may come to the gym one day and want to say, ‘I’m sore, I really don’t feel like working out,'” says Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. “This will tell you how [you’re] feeling because the data says it all right here.”

Daniel Brusilovsky, who leads the team’s digital and technology initiatives, sometimes takes a lead role in the constant testing and implementation of new products. The Neuroon is a new sensor-equipped sleep mask that helps to combat jet lag.

“I sleep with it every single night,” says Brusilovsky. “We’re talking with the company each day to provide feedback on what’s working, not working and what features they could possibly add.”

Several players on the Warriors D-League team in Santa Cruz often serve as guinea pigs in the testing of new products — the team won the league’s championship last season, as well.

Last season, the Warriors tested smart clothing by Athos, which measures breathing, heart rates and muscle use. The team is currently piloting headphones by a company named Halo Neuroscience that send electrical impulses to the brain to improve muscle memory.

Basketball

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen resigns

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Secretary Nielsen resigns

WASHINGTON, DC (Diya TV) —   Kirstjen Nielsen, the US Homeland Security Secretary, is stepping down over major differences with the administration on how to implement President Trump’s immigration policies.

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to campaign around the nation to make the case for his re-election in 2020. Over the weekend, he told a Las Vegas crowd India is charging 100% tariffs to the U.S. on many things and he wants to reciprocate. He added the Senate is not doing enough to change what he calls “stupid trade.”

The South Asian Bar Association’s Northern California chapter held their annual fundraising gala, a chance for judges, attorneys and the next generation to network and honor their peers.

The NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are moving to San Francisco in the fall, so they held their final Bollywood Night in Oakland. We’ll take you behind the scenes and introduce you to a member of the Warriors Dance Team that choreographed an epic Bollywood dance.

And Ravi Ahuja, the former CFO of Fox Networks, is now Walt Disney Television’s CFO and president of business operations.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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University of Houston’s President, Renu Khator joins the NCAA Division I Board

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NCAA board

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —  Renu Khator, President & Chancellor of University of Houston, the first Indian American to lead a major research university in the U.S., is joining the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors.

Framroze “Fram” Virjee is now permanent president of the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). He was a private practice lawyer for nearly 30 years before becoming interim CSUF president last year.

Rutgers Law School announced Neal Katyal, the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States and Vanita Gupta, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will both be 2019 commencement speakers.

George Jacob, the President & CEO of non-profit Bay.org behind the ambitious Bay Ecotarium, received the 2019 Louie Kamookak Medal from the The Royal Canadian Geographic Society for making Canada’s geography better known to Canadians and to the world.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Basketball

Golden State Warriors host first-ever Sikh Awareness Night

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OAKLAND, CALIF. (Diya TV) — Oracle Arena was the site of the first-ever Sikh Awareness Night as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 117-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night.

It was the second one in as many weeks throughout the NBA as the Los Angeles Clippers introduced it to their home crowd last week.

Other teams and leagues have previously hosted Sikh Heritage Nights, including the San Jose Sharks, who were the first NHL team last year to hold such an event.

Aman Singh, part of the local gurdwaras organization to put the event together, was excited for the community to be represented.

“We contribute to society here, so it’s great to be able to be part of this, to be able to have exposure and allow other folks in the community to get an idea of our heritage, Sikh values,” Singh said.

Fans got there early enough to take pictures outside Oracle and awaiting them inside was an up-close view of Stephen Curry’s highly-anticipated shootaround.

Soon enough, Singh — who was also coaching the pregame scrimmage — would hit the Warriors hardwood with 16 young kids from the Sikh community to shot hoops.

For 13-year-old Gagandeep Kaur of Milpitas, it was an unforgettable moment to be out there.

“Being able to play on the same court as my inspirations means a lot,” she said.

The five-minute scrimmage right before players from the Warriors and Grizzlies hit the floor included some dazzling shots and a buzzer-beater as well.

Members of the two teams remained close by as they eventually stood in front of their inspirations during the National Anthem.

Additionally, right after halftime, they were greeted with high-fives from Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and among others coming out of the tunnel.

“It’s great to be part of something like this,” Singh said.

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