His Job Is Counting Stephen Curry’s 3-Pointers. You’d Retire, Too.


Fred Kast has seen loads of basketball in his 57 years because the official scorer for the Golden State Warriors — some good, some dangerous, some wonderful. After Stephen Curry scored 62 factors for the Warriors on Sunday evening, Kast obtained a phone name on Monday morning from certainly one of his closest associates.

“You know, after every basket that Curry made, I could hear him shouting, ‘Thank you, Fred!’” Kast recalled his buddy telling him. “He was pulling my leg.”

Kast, who will flip 82 this month, has recorded each area aim, each free throw, each foul and each timeout in almost each Warriors house sport since 1963-64. He jots the stats into an N.B.A.-issue, spiral-bound pocket book that goes to the league workplace on the conclusion of every season. In a league that has seen its share of technological advances, the official scorer — the one that logs every sport’s most important components — is a throwback, and each staff has one. Somewhere within the N.B.A. archives, there’s a small library of Kast’s handiwork.

Kast has refined his craft by about 20 teaching adjustments, 23 playoff appearances and 4 championships, manning the scorer’s desk at no fewer than six arenas, together with the Cow Palace, the San Francisco Civic Auditorium and Oracle Arena. But nothing lasts ceaselessly, and Kast is about to retire after the Warriors’ sport in opposition to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday evening. As the information started to flow into amongst his associates and colleagues this week — Kast wished to maintain it quiet — they tried to register what it meant.

“It’s a shock to the system,” mentioned Brett Yamaguchi, the staff’s longtime senior director of sport operations. “He’s been such a part of the fabric of Warriors basketball.”

Kast had not deliberate on stepping away this season, however disruptions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic made him understand that it was time. Staff members who sit on the scorer’s desk this season want two virus unfavorable checks, collected 24 hours aside, within the three days earlier than a sport. That means Kast typically should make an additional three-hour spherical journey from his house in San Jose, Calif., in order that he might be examined on the enviornment.

“And my night vision isn’t what it used be anyway,” Kast mentioned.

The pandemic has been troublesome for him in different methods. His spouse, Nita, is ailing and lives in a talented nursing facility. Because of coronavirus protocols, Kast has not often been in a position to see her, he mentioned, and when he does, it’s by panes of glass. They have been married for 41 years.

“If I could change places with her, I would gladly do it,” mentioned Kast, who has two stepchildren and three grandchildren.

Ahead of retirement, Kast has saved busy, working three house video games already this week. He will probably be changed by Kyle McRae, who has spent 30 years as a Warriors statistician. Kast has been tutoring Kevin Chung, who will help McRae, offering Chung with copies of his work from just a few current video games in order that he may research them — and a few clean pages in order that he may observe on his personal.

“The game is not going to stop because you don’t record something right,” Kast mentioned. “It’s not an easy thing. But it becomes easier the more you do it.”

Before he grew to become the N.B.A.’s government vp of basketball operations, Kiki VanDeWeghe was a high-scoring forward whose own stats were documented by Kast on multiple occasions.

“He helped set the model for how to do the job of official scorer at a high level,” VanDeWeghe said. “I’ll miss seeing him in his seat at center court.”

Growing up in Rahway, N.J., Kast may have gotten his basketball genes from his mother, Marie, who played a half-court version of the game as a young woman. His father, Fred, worked at a brokerage firm on Wall Street and kept his car in a garage that had a basketball hoop nearby.

“So I would go shoot hoops while my dad was washing his car,” Kast said.

Kast was predisposed to the game for one other reason: He was tall. By the time he reached high school, he was nearly 6-foot-6 and a promising low-post presence. He eventually left for Duke on a basketball scholarship, helping the team win its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship. He also had a memorable matchup with Jerry West, who was then starring for West Virginia.

“I think he scored something like 30 points in the first half,” Kast said, “which gives you some clue as to how effective I was on defense.” (Kast was being somewhat modest; West scored only 29 points in that game.)

After graduating, Kast left for California to work in sales for a medical supplies company. As much as he loved the game, he thought his only connection to basketball moving forward would be as a fan. He was about to stumble into a part-time job that would keep him closer to the action than he could ever have imagined.

“Just unknowingly being in the right place at the right time,” he said.

In the fall of 1963, not long after relocating to the Bay Area, Kast bought a ticket to watch the Warriors — and Wilt Chamberlain, whom he had once met at a summer basketball camp — at the Cow Palace, the arena that was housing the team after its cross-country move from Philadelphia. Before Kast reached his seat, he bumped into a college friend who was working at the scorer’s table. The friend asked Kast if he would be willing to help.

“Sure, I’d be glad to do that,” Kast recalled telling his friend. “Where would I be seated?”

“Right at midcourt,” his friend said.

“Fred is such a purist,” Yamaguchi said, “and I just remember hearing, ‘Hey, can you turn down that music?’ And I’m like: ‘OK, Fred! Definitely!’”

People who get jobs on the scorer’s table for the Warriors tend to keep them. Jim Maher has worked for the Warriors in various capacities for over 50 years, most recently as their game-clock operator. Lori Hoye has been the team’s chief statistician since 1989, and now leads a four-person crew that tracks in-game stats on a computer system.

Hoye, 61, has long worked closely with Kast, whose scorebook is the official record and whose penmanship is precise. (“What happens if the computers break down?” Kast said.) He uses two pens: a black one to take notation in real time and a red one to compile totals at the end of each quarter.

“We’re all trying to make sure we have the same numbers,” Hoye said. “Coaches get in your way. Players get in your way. And we’re always trying to figure out the refs’ fingers when a foul is called. The worst thing is to have players with the Nos. 45, 54 and 9 on the court at the same time.”

She laughed and added, “It’s not going to seem real when Fred isn’t here.”

Kast will continue to watch the Warriors from home — and “Dancing With the Stars,” one of his favorite television programs. In some ways, it might be easier for him to enjoy the team’s theatrics now that he no longer needs to pay close attention to his work. He marvels at the speed of the modern game, and at the skill of players like Curry.

“His shotmaking ability is uncanny,” said Kast, who never thought he would have a front-row seat for so long.

He is grateful that he had one at all.



Source link Nytimes.com

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