In the early morning hours of Thursday morning, Clifford Dixon, 32, was shot several times by an isolated gunman in front of an Atlanta nightclub in which he was organizing his birthday party. Dixon was a close friend of Warriors players Kevin Durant and Quinn Cook; Durant called Dixon his "adoptive brother."
The news hit both players hard as they appeared in court Thursday night for a key match against the Indiana Pacers in Oakland; Durant has been visibly mastered all along East Bay Times Photographer Jose Carlos Fajardo captured a cook in tears during the pre-match:
Durant, who spent the rest of what could be his last season of the Warriors in Dixon, set the tone early in his defense, although he and Cook posted harmless offensive statistics in Golden State's 112-89: Durant was one of six double-digit Warriors, with 15 points, to go with six assists and three blocks; Cook managed one of six field shots in 19 minutes.
This is not relevant, of course. The fact that they could play after losing a close friend shows their mental strength. The news of Dixon's success was particularly strong, as he was one of the people Durant thanked after winning the 2014 NBA MVP Award; Durant's mother welcomed Dixon at the age of 16, according to the report. Oklahoman.
Warrior coach Steve Kerr spoke to reporters before the match about what Durant and Cook were going through, and described a "very dark filming mood" on Thursday. He also noted that the possibility of seeing one or the other player sitting outside was not discussed. "For most of us who play this game or train it, it is a bit of our refuge," Kerr said. "Being able to play, to be able to immerse yourself in a game is somehow the best way to deal with something tragic, difficult."
Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, also extended her condolences to Dixon's family following the shooting: