NBA Playoff Preview: Warpaint Worship at the Altar of Tim Duncan - Rolling Stone
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NBA Playoff Preview: Warpaint Worship at the Altar of Tim Duncan

Singer Emily Kokal singles out LeBron, CP3 and KD, but can’t pick a team

Warpaint stella Mozgawa, Emily Kokal, Jenny Lee Lindberg, Theresa WaymanWarpaint stella Mozgawa, Emily Kokal, Jenny Lee Lindberg, Theresa Wayman


Paul Bergen/Redferns

Warpaint’s Emily Kokal has no loyalty.

OK, that’s probably a bit of an overstatement, but not by much: The singer and guitarist is a basketball fan without a team. Instead, she follows individual players, watching games whenever – and wherever – she can while Warpaint are on the road. 

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Kokal’s impartiality also makes her the perfect person to helm Rolling Stone’s second NBA Playoff Preview (thanks to Hannibal Buress for the first). Sure, she may bow down to Blake Griffin and worship at the altar of the “Shaman,” Tim Duncan, but she’s also smart enough to know that this year may belong to Kevin Durant. Here’s her fair, balanced and (almost) fandom-free take on the 2014 playoffs:

So, let’s just clear this up. In Warpaint’s new video, you’re wearing a Bulls T-shirt, but your publicist says you’re a Clippers fan – care to explain yourself?
I’m not really a team person! I love certain players and certain games between teams. The Lakers got me into basketball. I went to some games between 2004-2007, and I was definitely Lakers all the way. But then, when Oklahoma City really came into their own, I really got into watching them and the interaction between [Kevin] Durant, [Russell] Westbrook and [James] Harden. Now, I’m overseas so much that I haven’t been as involved, but I love watching the Clippers. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are such a solid duo, they keep it cool and level too. Plus, DeAndre Jordan’s the most athletic center in the league. I still really love to watch Durant though, and the Rockets for Harden. Who else? LeBron [James] and Dwyane Wade, Paul George on the Pacers. Derek Fisher is still such a boss and Tim Duncan is like watching a Shaman. And I love Metta World Peace for his interviews.

That means you probably watch a lot of NBA games. Any favorites come to mind? 
Yeah, when we’re home, I try to go whenever I can. In 2012, when I was home a lot more I got cable and was watching a lot of basketball by myself. It was a nice ritual for me. Probably the most exciting games I’ve seen first-hand were back in 2005 or 2006, the battles between LeBron and Kobe [Bryant], or the game when Andrew Bynum dunked on freshly-traded Miami Shaq. Bynum was so young, playing Shaq’s old spot. Shaq was pissed! 

The Clippers and the Golden State Warriors face off in the first-round of the playoffs; that’s going to be an epic series. How do you see it playing out?
The Warriors are kinda like the new OKC to me: fun to watch, maybe not ready for prime time, but they’re formidable foes when they get into a rhythm and start hitting the threes. But, Doc Rivers has evolved the Clippers so much this season that I wouldn’t count them out. I could see them making the Western Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals. OKC will be tough though. The Clippers’ recent game with them was close, no one had that one sewn up.

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We’ve got to put you on the spot: Who are you picking for the NBA Finals?
I like Indiana, but who knows? If they can get back to how they were playing the first-half of the season, I’d say they had more of a shot then they do right now. A Finals matchup between OKC and Indiana would be pretty awesome. It could be Durant’s year.

Warpaint are playing Coachella on the same night the playoffs begin, and then you’re going on tour with the National. Will any of this interfere with your viewing schedule? 
Oh, no way. I’ll be watching all the highlights and game recaps on the NBA app, or hopefully on the bus!

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