Kevon Looney has been a star in his role. While his numbers may never jump at you, he’s been an integral part of Golden State’s dominance over the past few years. Whether it’s freeing up Steph, Klay, and Jordan Poole for open shots or dominating the glass, Looney has carved a solid role for himself in the NBA. And yes, he doesn’t care if you think those screens are illegal.
“If the refs don’t call it, then it is not a moving screen,” Looney tells Complex. “I find it funny. I feel like the refs call a lot of moving screens on me so I don’t think it’s true.”
If you watched him at UCLA, this wasn’t the player Looney projected to be but he adjusted with his environment especially after battling through injuries.
“In college I used to do a lot more shooting. I was a lot more aggressive and playing with the ball a little bit more,” Looney says. “When you got Steph, Klay, Draymond and KD playing those four positions, it’s like, all right, the only time to get a chance to get minutes is at the center.”
We sat down with Looney briefly in the middle of a heated series with the Lakers to discuss if the Lakers are the Warriors’ toughest opponents in this dynasty, his thoughts on everyone saying his team sets illegal screens, and his partnership with Tidal.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
So talk about this partnership you have with Tidal and you going live before each playoff game?
It’s something I’ve been excited to do. Being able to go live and share my music taste and my playlists with some of my fans and followers. And I’ve been talking for years with my teammates and different people in our training staff about how dope my playlists are. So for me, being able to go live and share with the world has been fun and I take it really seriously. I’ve listened to a lot of music before the game, and so me being able to allow my fans to get in the zone and lock in with me before I go on the court has been pretty dope.
What’s your top 3 songs on a playlist pregame?
Oh, man, right now, I would probably say “Superhero” by Future and Metro. It varies. I, I kind of usually go with a Kodak Black song and it kind of varies. I like “300 Blackout” and then I go with a Jay-Z song. Recently I’ve been going before the game, I’ve been playing the “Intro” from The Dynasty album.
You got the aux in the locker room?
Yes, for the most part. I’ve been letting some of young guys have their moment, but when it gets serious, I always gotta get on.
Pivoting to hoops, it seems like people have recognized what you bring to the table for the Warriors. What’s it like to finally get the credit you deserve for starring in your role from NBA fans and media?
It’s been pretty dope to see my development over the last few years and to see, to get the recognition from the fans and from my peers. It’s been great. You know I got my own chant now at the Chase Center, that’s been dope. I got that probably last year. Just to see all your hard work pay off and all the grinding and the rehab and the dark times in the summer pay off and get the credit and the recognition from your people is always an amazing feeling. It makes you wanna keep working and it makes you feel like all the stuff you’re doing is worth it.
Your game is completely different from where it was at UCLA. Why did you change your game and was it a tough adjustment?
It definitely was an adjustment. I had some major injuries in my first year in the league. And when I was rehabbing and coming back I tried to kind of find a way to get on the court and you know, when you got Steph, Klay, Draymond and KD playing those four positions, it’s like, all right, the only time to get a chance to get minutes is at the center. So I had to adjust and see what the centers were doing and seeing how they were able to be effective and to help our team win. So I was able to get on the court and able to lock some minutes up. Because in college I used to do a lot more shooting. I was a lot more aggressive and playing with the ball a little bit more. I’m watching Bogut and I’m watching to see how they get you know, Steph and Klay open. And I seen it work and them make it to the Finals and win. It’s like, all right I’m gonna put my ego aside and try to help my team win. And I found a niche, I found a role and I was able star in that role.
Your backs are against the wall against the Lakers. Is it a new experience for you and the guys being down 3-1 in this series?
It’s not our first experience, but it is definitely a new experience. Like I said, my rookie year, we were down 3-1 vs. OKC in the conference finals before we came back and won and went to the finals. So them guys have a lot of experience, but it’s always a new experience cuz the, the characters change and no, we got this, the main three or four people, but we still got a whole lot of new faces in. So it’s definitely a different experience to go to be in this position. The last year we went to the finals, we didn’t really ever have this type of adversity when we were down. I think it was 2-1 in the finals but we never was down 3-1. And we know how hard it’s to come back from that, but we feel like we got the guys to do it. We got a lot of experience and we got a lot of championship pedigree. So we’ve been leaning on that and you know, we got to take it one game at a time, but we feel like we’re capable of doing it.
Over the years, you guys have been called out for not setting “legal screens.” What’s your reaction to that when you see those comments?
I find it funny. I feel like the refs call a lot of moving screens on me so I don’t think it’s true. If the refs don’t call it, then it is not a moving screen. So that’s how I look at it, you know, I learned how to set screens some from some of the best. They ain’t called it on them. So I think we’ve been doing it right over the last, you know, few years. So I think it’s funny though you know I take pride in my screen setting. And sometimes you gotta move so it is what it is. (laughs)
Are the Lakers the toughest opponents you guys have faced in this dynasty?
You could say that. They got us on the ropes, so I’ll give ‘em the credit. They’ll probably be one of the tougher matchups we had in the last few years. You know, having LeBron & AD is always gonna be a tall task and they’re well coached. They’re really physical and they got D’Lo, Schroder, who are real crafty & able to get buckets so I definitely say this is one of the hardest series and you know, just from the adjustments from game to game and dealing with those two guys who are, you know, some of the best ever at their positions and in the league. So it’s definitely been one of the tougher series. But you know, we still feel like we got a chance, we still feel like we should have won a few of those games but we didn’t. So we gotta go out there and try to now figure it out and try to get one one on the road in Game 6. But I definitely give the credit. It’s them definitely one of the toughest series.