Dunleavys squirm at court reunion
- Kerry Eggers
- Portland Tribune - Sports
No getting around it: The Dunleavy family reunion a week ago at the Arena in Oakland was É uncomfortable.
'It was awkward,' says coach Mike Dunleavy, whose L.A. Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors 104-98.
'Just strange,' says his son, Mike Dunleavy Jr., the starting small forward for the Warriors.
The younger Dunleavy played like it, hitting only 2 of 10 shots in a 25-minute showing that he would just as soon forget.
The game Nov. 14 was the second time in NBA regular-season history that a father had coached against a son. In November 1976, Jan van Breda Kolff started for the New York Nets in a game against his father, Butch van Breda Kolff, and the New Orleans Jazz.
The younger Dunleavy had played twice against the Clippers in the preseason, each time scoring 19 points and performing well.
'It's hard to É compete against my dad,' says Dunleavy Jr., choosing his words slowly. 'For so long, I have wanted him to do well, and he has wanted me to do well. It's easy to compete against him when it's just one-on-one in the back yard. These are bigger implications, I guess. This is when it really counts. This is pro basketball.'
Dunleavy Sr., in his first year coaching the Clippers, felt it, too.
'It's like the first time in our lives we were not aligned,' he says. 'It's the first time I didn't want his team to win. It was tough.'
It also was tough on Emily Dunleavy, who is married to Mike Sr. and Mom to Junior.
Who did she root for?
'She didn't say,' Mike Sr. says.
When Golden State plays host to the Trail Blazers on Sunday, Dunleavy Jr. will be in the Warriors' lineup. In August, Golden State traded starting forward Antawn Jamison to Dallas, in part to open a spot for Dunleavy.
'The organization looks at Mike, Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy as its foundation for years to come,' coach Eric Musselman says.
Playing sporadically and coming off the bench for the first time in his life, Dunleavy averaged 5.7 points and 15.9 minutes a game last year as a rookie. The 6-9 former Jesuit High and Duke standout has gained almost 20 pounds from a year ago and is up to 230. With the added beef and an extra measure of self-confidence, he has become the team's No. 2 scorer (13.6 points per game) and No. 3 rebounder (6.3) and serves as one of the team's best setup guys via the pass.
In the second game of the season, he had 32 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Philadelphia. Other nights haven't been as good. And though he is working on it, he remains a defensive liability. Opponents often try to isolate him.
'Mike has been inconsistent, but that's to be expected,' Musselman says. 'He had 20 points at halftime of the Philadelphia game, and I walked into the locker room thinking, 'This guy is going to be a bona fide All-Star.'
'His game made a big leap from the All-Star break last year to the end of the season, then another leap from the end of the season until now. If his game continues to improve at that rate, he's going to be a fantastic player in this league.'
Dunleavy Jr. thinks so, too:
'There have been some tough nights, but I'm a much better player than I was as a rookie. I have all the tools and potential.'