Sydney coach rubbishes Twitter ‘morons’

Steve Barrett |

Sydney coach Chase Buford has slammed social media trolling of injured star Xavier Cooks, who sat out the second half of the depleted Kings’ gutsy NBL grand final series-levelling win against the New Zealand Breakers.

Cooks suffered consecutive leg corks in the series opener in Sydney, which hampered him in Auckland in Game Two on Sunday.

Cooks, the reigning Larry Sengstock Medallist for his match-winning exploits in last year’s grand final sweep of Tasmania, scored two points in nine minutes before sitting out the second half. He is averaging five points while shooting 18 per cent for the series.

Cooks’ inability through injury to recapture the form that earned him this season’s league MVP has attracted online criticism. That has incensed Buford, who had to take both Cooks and Derrick Walton Jr out of Sunday’s match early.

“We knew before the game both of them were unlikely to give us much,” Buford said post-match.

“Even the morons on NBL Twitter could see X (Cooks) wasn’t having it tonight.

“He tried to play through it, he just couldn’t move, so we got him out early.

“It was obvious that he couldn’t give as much.”

Buford’s comments came hours before the Kings announced on Monday that Cooks has agreed a two-year NBA deal with the Washington Wizards.

He is expected to join the Wizards for the remainder of their NBA season, but not before playing out the rest of the NBL championship series as the Kings attempt to go back-to-back. 

Buford also fired back at social media critics when discussing his team’s vastly improved defensive efforts on Breakers playmaker Will McDowell-White, who had seven points and six turnovers, compared to his near triple-double in Game One.

“The adjustment was we competed harder. We did the same exact coverages,” Buford said.

“I know all these people talking this and that, we did the same s**t.

“But there’s a bunch of really brilliant people on Twitter who will tell you otherwise.”

Walton, hampered by the quadricep cramp he suffered in Game One, exited Game Two in the opening minutes.

“I took him out at the five-minute mark and he said to me, ‘I can’t move my legs’,” Buford said.

“Everybody’s talked all year about our bench and our rotations.

“We had no point guards out there so guys just stepped up and made plays.

“Getting this one was a character win.

“We probably had no business winning this game with the outs we had.”

With their two best players out, the Kings needed something special. Import Justin Simon delivered it, mainly on the defensive end, where he pilfered six steals, including three in little more than a minute just after halftime.

“I really challenged him, told him if we were comparing his defence in Game One to Game Three (semifinals against Cairns) against DJ Hogg, it’s night and day,” Buford said.

“He came out tonight and gave us another one of those performances.

“When he went at McDowell-White three times in a row in that third quarter, it totally changed the momentum of the entire game and we never really looked back after that.”