Preamble to a Eulogy... It Ain’t Been the Big Easy... Requiem on a Dynasty... One Native Son’s Solemn Prayer to Dub Nation on the Eve of Destruction

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler)

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler)

By Josh Tribe

“Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him.”  ~ Bob Dylan, “Visions of Johanna.” 

I’m just a messenger, please don’t murder me.  I come to you on behalf of the oft-mentioned, rarely heard-from-directly basketball gods. 

They want you to know all the narratives that’ve swirled around the Golden State Dynasty have been false.  Accordingly, the Warriors have been both over-and-underrated, universally under appreciated, miscast as villainous deck-stackers, responsible for the ruination of parity and suspense, their achievements perceived as forgone conclusions, their few and far between failures blamed on flaws that don’t exist.  Not that they’re flawless.  It’s just that their alchemic divinations can’t prevail every season.  The addition of Kevin Durant didn’t make them unbeatable, and his impending free agency and the ubiquitous public perception he won’t be back next season haven’t undone them.

Until the Steve Kerr took over for JV coach extraordinaire Mark Jackson, a universal law had unfailingly pervaded all contact sports: Superior size, strength and speed simply cannot be overcome, no matter how skillfully employed, by superior skills, smarts and selflessness.  Joy?  Are you kidding? 

The Raptors players and coach are currently being lauded for their coldblooded stoicism, the lot of them looking like men condemned to death as they left the floor for might well be the last professional basketball game to take place in Alameda County. From the looks of them, you’d have thought they’d at least lost, were the Warriors not so wearily disconsolate.  The Warriors fuel themselves with ebullience and by the fourth quarter they’d run out of gas for the third time in four tries.  A subplot in the lineage of Warriors-related false narratives is undoubtedly burgeoning, one which attaches a causality to the personality-less Raptors and their success.

The basketball gods want you to know they placed Saints Steve and Stephen in the five-one-oh for a reason.  It was an acknowledgement of the Mecca of small-ball Oakland has long since been.  From Sleepy Floyd to Run TMC, Don Nelson and all his quirkiness, culminating in that last hurrah of the We Believe crew of ’07.

KD reppin’ RUN TMC. (Photo via Golden State Warriors)

KD reppin’ RUN TMC. (Photo via Golden State Warriors)

Basketball and the Blues: perhaps the only two positive contributions to human culture to arise from the genocidal grounds known as North America, which apparently wasn’t completely forsaken by the rest of them gods, whose spiritual jurisdiction did not include sports and recreation.  What a miserable place of senseless slaughter, the rest of the gods bemoaned from on high, as they viewed the so-called Red Man along with his seemingly infinite herds of buffalo senselessly slaughtered, the West Africans hauled over to be treated even more cruelly, the lynch mobs and police state thugs who took over for plantation owners and overseers after Lincoln, the constant illegal wars waged in and upon every other continent, the insane rates of incarceration of its own citizens, refugees lured by the land of opportunity stripped of their children and warehoused like war criminals, actual war criminals waltzing through the revolving door of wealth and power, a new Atlantis of abysmal misery, the rest of them gods saw it all and told the gods of sport and music to do their best, as they had their work cut out for them.  Let something redeeming come out of there, for Christ’s sake.  The majority of gods, you see, have a soft spot for old Jesus, so childishly concerned with human suffering and full of love for all life’s enemies as he was.  Basketball and the Blues, truth be told, were created by the gods of sport and recreation to cheer up Jesus, who was sulking around heaven all day, preoccupied with the horrors coming out of the Americas century after goddamned century.   

Yes, it certainly is a cannibalistically parasitic society from which sprang the NBA.  The land to its north, despite its lack of mass shootings and propensity for (at least) superficial civility and a politeness rarely witnessed in the Western World, is no less colonial, and only slightly less drenched in blood.  The mere mortal credited with creating basketball was born in Canada.  Remember that, should the Warriors fail to pull off a Game 5 miracle.  Regardless, it appears as though the Bill Russell (Larry O’Who?) (turns out Larry O’Brien was Postmaster General during the Johnson Administration before serving as NBA Commissioner – whatever the fuck, rename the trophy after Russell) Trophy’s Canadian citizenship will be naturalized within the week, if not tonight. 

With silly mortal notions of good and evil, the Basketball World at large has long since taken Golden State’s genius, responsible for its greatness, for granted.  Perhaps success is always misperceived as forgone conclusion.  Even in the absence of KD, due to past dominance, the Warriors remained, insensibly, the favorites going into the Finals.  I’m here to tell you they’ve been underdogs all along.  Even with KD, they’ve been welterweights contending in the heavyweight division.  Sugar Ray Leonard v. Muhammad Ali; Floyd Mayweather v. Mike Tyson; Jake LaMotta v. Sonny Liston.  Take note Max Kellerman (of ESPN’s First Take), you basketball imbecile and alleged boxing expert.  The notion that “adding K-D to a 73-win team made the Warriors unbeatable” was always dead wrong.  Kawhi Leonard avoiding Zaza’s felonious foot; a Rockets team stripped of its inconceivably stupid shortcomings; the overall chaos and incompetence surrounding Lebron’s Cavs.  The Spurs may have prevailed due to their size and sound stratagems.  The Rockets (!), were James Harden willing or able to make one single normal basketball play... forget the debate over analytics v. eye-tests, when your best player stands at half-court with his hands on his knees every time he’s not slated to go one-on-five; when your best player has no interest in cuts to the basket, screening nor receiving screens; when your whole team, due to some asinine plan, eschews midrange jumpers and post-up opportunities wholesale while simultaneously codifying bad body language from management down... When you can count on the Cavs to keep Lebron shackled to the moronic likes of J.R. Smith... The Warriors have been fantastic, and fantastically lucky.  Their collective karma has carried them at least as much as their talent.  It sounds great, two MVPs on the same team.  Let’s see some other team make it work.  Try it with two MVPs not named Steph and KD.  The Warriors have overcome an overt lack of brawn, putting aside what would only be considered a normal amount of egomania, to create a dynasty unlike any in hoops history.  

They’re not perfect, but the Warriors owners (Mark Stevens notwithstanding, and we’ll get to him), management and coaching staff had, relatively speaking, good karmic footing upon which to launch their agenda of transcendent small ball.  It took beautiful arrogance mixed stark realism to pull it off.  We’ll be small and fast and explosive and elite defensively.  We’ll perfect the art of winning without the option of, if all else fails, imposing our physical will or athletic prowess.  We’ll win, in a physical, contact sport, with a sort of sporting flower power.  When Kerr came in he could have shot up the organization with a syringe of realism, instead he envisioned a championship team that embodied the spirt of its best player, who at the time, still looked more like a high schooler than the cornerstone of an NBA title contender.

Let’s quickly review the history of NBA teams that (successfully) banked on somebody under 6’4, weighing under 200 pounds.  Before Steph led the W’s to the Finals in 2015, it’d happened exactly four times: three with Isiah Thomas and his Bad Boy Pistons; once with Allen Iverson and his Sixers, which featured one of the greatest defensive centers of all-time in Dikembe Mutombo, along with a host of blue collar vets, defensive specialists (Toni Kukoc notwithstanding), who under the harsh tutelage of legendary slave driver Larry Brown, managed to make everyone forget that despite his silly athleticism and indefatigable heart and spirit, Iverson weighed about a buck-sixty, undoubtedly less than little-ass coach.  Isiah Thomas changed the game, making way for Mark Price, Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway, Iverson, Steve Nash and Steph Curry.  Before Isiah Lord Thomas III, it was believed guards had to be big.  Magic Johnson had become the new prototype.  Isiah led the Pistons to three straight Finals, and was one phantom foul call away from winning them all.        

Isiah vs. the Lakers in the 1988 Finals. He would take home the title in ‘89 and ‘90.

Isiah vs. the Lakers in the 1988 Finals. He would take home the title in ‘89 and ‘90.

Enter Curry under Kerr.  Ahead of the curve in terms of relying on the three-point shot, the Warriors finessed past teams they had no business beating.  And luckily, when facing off against the Goliath from Akron the first time, Lebron’s two best (and only truly competent) teammates went down with injuries and Steph Curry was able to take his seat alongside Isiah, at what’s still a table for two, reserved for little guys to claim a title as their team’s best player.

The next year, Lebron’s Cavs at full strength, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead, lost, and signed Durant, as we know.  At which point the basketball world lost its damn mind.  Yes, they added one of the top players in the league, but one who made Golden State a collection of warriors whose strength was not to fight even more so than they already were.  Yes, they possessed unreal offensive fire power.  But so did the Run TMC team, as did the incarnation with Chris Webber, which scored a shit ton, but couldn’t do better than an eight-seed destined to both score and give up an insane amount of points. 

What the Warriors have done over the past half a decade, with KD, without KD, has been to repeatedly trot out a lineup in which none of the rotation players had the capacity to physically overpower their positional counterpart.  Only the changes in officiating, outlawing the manhandling that allowed Isiah’s Bad Boys to prevail, made any of this the least bit feasible. 

Personal disclosure: confessions of an undersized point guard

I’ve got sufficient self-awareness to justify what might otherwise be deemed an inordinate love for one Stephen Curry.  At a much lower level, I nevertheless related intimately to Curry’s essay which appeared online earlier this season.  At 13, unlike Steph, who had hopes of proving himself among the best players his age in the entire country, I was merely trying to establish myself in Orinda, a teeny-tiny, lily-white Bay Area suburb not the least bit known for its basketball pedigree.  But then again, my father wasn’t one of the better three-point shooters in NBA history, but an extremely mild mannered, overtly pacifistic psychiatrist.  I entered Orinda Intermediate School in the eighth grade at four-foot-nine, 82 pounds, armed with, relatively speaking, mad skills and a touch of urban moxie.  I had handles, a deadly push-shot nearly identical to the form Steph once employed – there are only so many ways to shoot a basketball when you weigh less than a hundred pounds – and could finish (a hundred leagues under the rim) with either hand around the basket.  For the O.I.S. 8th grade “A” Team, I was an extremely impoverished man’s Steph Curry. 

Every brunch recess that year, a kid we’ll call Lance and I played one-on-one.  I don’t think I lost even once (though I must have), despite an eleven inch, fifty pound disparity.  Lance was an exceptional athlete, ruthlessly competitive, whose basketball skills weren’t half bad.  He would go on to become a starting tight end and rugby star at UC Davis.  Our basketball battles continued through our early twenties, he at 6’4, 230, me at 5’8, 155.  His skills improved over time, as did my own, and although I can’t recall ever losing to him, I also remember the absolute struggle it was every time.  Had he ever been formally trained as a basketball player, I’d never have stood a chance.  Because, remiss as I am to admit it, in basketball, size matters.  Steph has so stealthily seduced the basketball realm many have forgotten this less than egalitarian truism.  It’s a significant advantage, every time a shot goes up, to be taller and weigh more than your opponent.  Rebounding, setting and fighting through screens, competing for loose balls, etc.  A zillion little things combine to give one team more points in the paint and free throws. Despite the expressive artistry of its athletes, the game does not award extra points for grace.  If it did, the Warriors would win every game by 300 points.

In Game 2, the Warriors’ lone win so far this Finals, the pundits gushed over the Warriors 22 second half field goals, every one of which came via an assist.  Twenty-two assists in one half of basketball.  It is astonishing.  But nobody bothered to point out the shadow of this non-anomaly.  Every basketball teams needs a few unassisted buckets.  An assist on every made shot means zero put-backs, not one instance in which one of your players strips one of theirs and takes it the other way for an uncontested dunk.  All assists means no coast-to-coast layups for Draymond, no threes for Steph off screen and roll.  I, who normally gush with near sexual arousal at the mention of so many assists, shivered upon hearing this statistic cited.  If none of your baskets are unassisted, the other team’s playing amazing defense and committing nearly no unforced errors. 

(photo by Garrett Ellwood)

(photo by Garrett Ellwood)

So what’s gonna happen?  My head says it all ends tonight in Toronto with the entire country erupting in orgasmic basketball bliss, the Splash Brothers’ liquidity reduced to tears.  Durant on his way out, destined to play nary a second, his last shot as a Warrior remaining that pretty midrange shot from the baseline, in which he tore his calf.  My head tells me this is the Warriors’ Waterloo... that attempting to slay Kawhi without KD as akin to invading Russia during wintertime.  Unlike Napoleon, it’s not their fault.  My head tells me that even with KD at full strength for the whole series, it would have been tough.  The Raptors are really fucking good.     

My heart, however, informs me Steph and Klay are due to combine for at least 80, a game in which they both hit 10 threes.  My heart tells me they’ll shock the world, Draymond nodding emphatically as if that outcome was never in doubt.  In my heart, Durant is on the bench for Game 5, disallowed from stepping on the floor by the doctors, but able to lobby his way into some towel waving; but Steph, Klay and Dray slay the purple dinosaurs anyway, making way for KD to pull a Willis Reed in Game 6 in Oakland.  In Game 6, like Reed of yore, Durant’s contribution is largely sentimental.  He hits a few jumpers, blocks a key shot, makes some free throws down the stretch, giving the Warriors just enough to make it to Game 7.  In my heart, Durant puts up 50 in Game 7, three-peat complete. 

It’s my prayer that the Warriors find the humility to see themselves not as two-time defending champions, but as the perpetual Cinderella they’ve always been. 

I’m here as a messenger to tell you the basketball gods are still with the Warriors, but the rest of them gods are pulling for the crew from Canada.  Mark Stevens was their last straw.  The Raptors general manager, fan base, if not their players, deserve the title more than their Golden State counterparts.  Bob Myers’ snarky dig at KD at last year’s victory parade set the tone.  Stevens shoving Kyle Lowery sealed the deal.  For the first time in their historic run, the Warriors don’t have karma on their side.  Let’s face it, every other Finals appearance, it’s been Dan Gilbert, with his plantation mindset looming over it all.

But none of that matters.  Game 3, the Warriors dangling over the threshold of defeat: Steph dives headlong into the passing lane in perfect high school style ball denial.  The Warriors were all over the floor in Games 3 and 4.  And this is what I’ll remember.  Not that everyone idiotically claimed their insane collective skillset made them undefeatable.  I’ll remember KD in the tunnel, hyping up Steph before games, there to greet and congratulate/console his teammates.  Looney battling on with a broken collar bone.  I’ll remember Boogie doing his goddamned best, defying his reputation as a petulant malcontent.  I’ll remember Livingston, who probably should have retired years ago, bringing his old man’s game from the 70s.  I’ll remember Iggy.  All the basketball gods want me to be sure to inform you, that in the basketball hall of fame which exists on high, Andre Iguodala occupies the position Michael Jordan occupies on earth.  Iggy, the ultimate Warrior in every way, with his ancient legs, leading the 2019 playoffs in dunks.  I’ll remember Iggy’s dunks, Iggy’s strips, Iggy playing well past his prime because he “likes Steph,” who he says “is great to be around.”  Iggy, the basketball gods want you to know you’re off the hook.  Go ahead and retire to your long life of golf and philanthropic entrepreneurship.  Steph’s legacy was cemented long ago.  He dines with Isiah at that table for two, where they sing the praises of Joe Dumars and Klay Thompson, Mark Aguirre and Kevin Durant, Dennis Rodman and Draymond Green.     

Hovering over the Warriors’ dynastic death bed from my perch overseas, my role is that of a unitarian hoops priest.  I’m prepared, however solemnly, to perform the last rites for this, the most poetical dynasty in NBA history.  Built on faith that goes beyond execution, the Warriors have reminded us that joy is as good a fuel as ambition, revenge or vindication.  Win or lose, in my heart a big brass band plays a Big Easy Second-line sendoff to this beautiful basketball experiment.  The big brass band waits to play “Nearer My God To Thee.”  The three seasons featuring Curry paired with KD have been a joy to behold.  Their biggest stumbling block a mutual tendency towards being overly deferential to the other. 

Win or lose, I think KD comes back on a short-term deal for one more go around.  But when it’s over, whether it’s tonight or years down the line, I’ll remember the parasitical media getting it wrong and how the Warriors nearly let themselves get undone by it, all the while maturing as men and teammates in precisely the cliché manner in which sports are supposed to imbue its participants. 

Dear Golden State Warriors, thank you for your dignity. Last message from the basketball gods wanted me to impart on their behalf: WE STILL BELIEVE. Stance. Selah. From Berkeley and Saigon, Let’s go Warriors!


The final regular season run inside the Oakland Coliseum stirs up 47 years of emotions

Draymond skies under the signature Coliseum ceiling. (Photo by Noah Graham)

Draymond skies under the signature Coliseum ceiling. (Photo by Noah Graham)

By Connor Buestad |

Sunday, April 7th against the L.A. Clippers marked the last time I will likely ever set foot inside the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena for a Warriors game. The 47 years the Dubs have spent on the hallowed ground of 7000 Coliseum Way along the 880 have come and (almost) gone. As the Grateful Dead sang so many times in Oakland, “wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?”

By now, the walk from the Coliseum BART station across the “scenic” pedestrian bridge is always a sentimental one for me, even if it’s a Tuesday night A’s game versus the Royals. There’s just too much history on that bridge. The fog rolling out in the distance over San Francisco, the scrappy scalpers, the underrated musicians, the one dollar waters, two dollar canned domestic beers and the 10 dollar fake T-shirts get me semi-emotional every time.

This particular evening was already sure to add an even higher degree of sentimental value. Even more than you could imagine there would be on the last regular season game in the the history of Warriors basketball in Oakland. But what I wasn’t expecting was the death of my childhood friend Brian Hammons just days earlier. “Hambones,” as they called him, spent his whole life living and rooting for the Warriors from various locations in the East Bay. His fandom never once wavered, even in the LEAN years of the early 2000’s, when the idea of a .500 team playing at the Arena in Oakland was almost laughable. The type of guy that wouldn’t rush you to leave a game early, but instead citing the small pleasures of small beer lines, lenient ushers, and the unpretentious fan base all around us.

Maybe it was just the nostalgia talking, but Sunday’s game felt in many ways like it did back in the 2000’s. The beer lines were still manageable, the ushers weren’t tripping if you needed a different view, and the season ticket holders were all there. The seats were still blue, the ceiling somehow still made me feel like I was in Rome, and the jerseys still featured a Thunder lighting bolt on the backside of the shorts. At least for one more night, everything was the same as it was back in 2001.

I remember the 2000-2001 season like an addict who got sober 18 years earlier. 2001 was rock bottom, no doubt about it. Coached by Dave Cowens, the Warriors went 17-65 that year. That season, it had been six years since the Dubs had made the playoffs. It would also be another five year wait until they would make it again. It was the middle of an NBA nosedive of unprecedented proportions. The Warriors sucked. There was no other way to describe it. You could sit virtually wherever you wanted, so long as you were willing to pull back a curtain and step over a row of seats to get into the lower bowl. The rotation of starters was absurd. An aging Mookie Blaylock, Marc Jackson, Larry Hughes and a frosted tipped Bobby Sura in the backcourt, coupled with Adonal Foyle and Erick Dampier down low. Antawn Jamison was their franchise player at that point. Off the bench that year you had studs like Bill Curley, Vinny Del Degro, Corie Blount and Vonteego Cummings. Hell, you even had 37-year-old Chris Mullin, playing in his final NBA season.

The love is mutual. (Photo by Noah Graham)

The winter of 2001 was extremely dark, but the following season, after drafting Gilbert Arenas and Troy Murphy, the Warriors were able to claw themselves back over the 20-win mark for the first time in three years. It gave them the modest amount of “momentum” they needed to push toward the 2007 “We Believe” team led by Don Nelson, Baron Davis and company.  

Yet however terrible the brand of basketball was in 2001, the Bay Area fan was always easily convinced to heed to call of the Warriors marketing campaigns and come out to the Arena to have a “Great Time Out,” with the late great Thunder mascot grinding to make as many people happy as humanly possible.

The 2001 fan was in attendance on Sunday. They didn’t sell their tickets to an online ticket brokerage or a guy on the peninsula with a red Tesla. Uncle Bob from Hayward who owned the tix wouldn’t have allowed that. Hell, he still doesn’t know how to scan his tickets on his phone properly yet. But no, Bob won’t be in San Francisco next year. He’d love to be, but it just doesn’t work like that anymore around here.

The loudest roars from the Oakland faithful on Sunday night came for their adopted son, Stephen Curry, and understandably so. They roared when he ripped off his jacket at the end of warm ups to reveal his “We Believe” era whites that he wore as a rookie in Oakland a decade ago. They roared when he knifed through the L.A. defense to find easy layups that shouldn't have been there in the first place. They roared when he launched one of his signature rainbow contested threes and splashed it. “CURRY HIT IT FROM THE BART STATION!!!” announced Bob Fitzgerald for the 1000th time in his life. By Q4, The Baby Faced Assassin had nothing to do but throw a towel over his shoulders and laugh.

After the final buzzer sounded and the ceremonial confetti dropped, the die-hards from the second deck were invited down to share a moment with the second coming of Al Attles, a skinny white dude with a bad back named Steve Kerr. Trained by legends Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, Kerr scrapped the sarcasm of Pop and sided with the thoughtful zen of Phil as he addressed the emotional Warrior fans that were left standing with 47 years of Oakland basketball memories Run(TMC)ing through their heads.

Just like any great party you go to, once it really gets going, once you think it will never end, you look up and it’s over. For the past 47 years, the Oakland Coliseum has hosted great company in East Oakland. Everyone has now started to show up for the three-peat going away party. There’s no telling how wild it will get over the next couple months. All we know is that it will be over soon, whether we want to believe it or not.

Killa Klay soaking it all in. (Photo by Noah Graham)

Can Nico "Red Mamba" Mannion bring Pac-12 basketball out of its funk? We'll find out next winter

By Connor Buestad |

It has been well documented that the Pac-12 conference has stumbled on some hard times on both the hardwood and the gridiron over the last few years. Proud to be known as the Conference of Champions, the Pac has recently been relegated to the “First Four” play-in game on the Tuesday night before the tournament and early December bowl games in half-empty stadiums. However, you can’t keep a great conference down for long, and we know it is only a matter of time before the likes of Arizona basketball and USC football will get their ducks in order and start winning on a national level once again. One intriguing athlete that hopes to expedite that process is Nico Mannion, also known as the Red Mamba. If you haven’t heard of him, now you have, thanks to a brilliant piece of writing by SI’s Chris Ballard below. If that’s not enough, hear from the player himself in the mini-doc below as well. I can hardly wait until Gus Johnson gets a hold of this young gunner when he catches fire in March somewhere.

A Georgia grad lends his insight on Mark Fox, California's new basketball coach

Fox had a 286-176 record in 14 seasons as coach at Nevada and Georgia. He made the NCAA Tournament five times but never advanced to the Sweet 16. Fox was fired at Georgia last year after failing to reach the tournament in each of his final three seasons with the Bulldogs. (AP) (photo by Sean Rayford)

Fox had a 286-176 record in 14 seasons as coach at Nevada and Georgia. He made the NCAA Tournament five times but never advanced to the Sweet 16. Fox was fired at Georgia last year after failing to reach the tournament in each of his final three seasons with the Bulldogs. (AP) (photo by Sean Rayford)

By Peter Horn | @PeterCHorn

There’s a play that sticks out in my mind as an encapsulation of Georgia basketball under Mark Fox. One of the nameless games between two teams clawing for .500 on the SEC Network’s Tuesday evening slot, the commentators marveling at the pick and roll screens drawn up by Fox during a timeout as our Serbian power forward dribbles the ball off his knee into the fourth row of the stands. We’d go on to lose that game. Or win, it doesn’t really matter.

And that’s kind of how it always went. There were bright spots and promising years—an NCAA tournament appearance in years two and six, one legit NBA player in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a couple others who thought they were and are now bouncing around the Lithuanian D-League—but mediocrity was the mean to which we would always revert.[1] Over the years, his furious scribbling on dry-erase boards to a clearly outmatched team down 14 points with 1:26 to go took on a Sisyphean feel. At some point that boulder was Fox’s to own.

The problem was recruiting, which largely stemmed from his inability to establish in-roads with AAU programs, notably the Atlanta teams an hour away that power the national blue bloods.[2] But that’s a bit like blaming your lawyer for not paying off the judge. The intersection of AAU recruiting, apparel companies and snake oil opportunists that leach off top recruits is a sordid business that’s likely even worse than reported, and for all of Fox’s shortcomings, he ran a clean program and seemed to genuinely care about the development of his players on and off the court. Hell, if we were paying our players, it’s time to call the collections agency.

It may not be fair, but it’s hard not to judge Fox vs. his successor, Tom Crean (who allegedly is a different person than Tom Arnold).[3] Despite a rocky first year at the helm, UGA has the #9 class in the country in Crean’s first full recruiting cycle, including the nation’s top shooting guard and #2 overall player, Anthony Edwards, along with three other four stars. For comparison, Fox signed one five-star and five four-stars in nine years, and Crean’s class isn’t done. This from a guy whose main criticism was Indiana in-state recruiting.

In years past, a .551 overall record and a couple tournament berths may have been enough for a school as football-centric as UGA. But during Fox’s tenure, we saw a number of SEC programs make significant strides—seven SEC teams made the NCAA tournament in Fox’s last year— while the Georgia program treaded water. When it’s just Kentucky in the tournament, it’s one thing. When it’s half your conference, it’s another.

And thus begins the Mark Fox era at Cal. If history is any indication, the Golden Bears are getting a skilled tactician, widely regarded as one of the better X’s and O’s coaches in the game,[4] a coach who will be a tireless ambassador for the entire Cal athletic department and may just show up to a football game covered in body paint and spiked shoulder pads. A fiery leader not afraid to lose his jacket and take the occasional technical foul, and if he can figure out how to tap into the AAU recruiting pipeline with his ethics still intact, potentially one of the better all-around college basketball coaches in the game.

[1] Had UGA basketball won one more SEC game under Fox, its conference record would’ve been literally mediocre at 0.5000 (78-78).

[2] …who all seem to wear blue: UNC, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky.

[3] Allegedly.

[4] Just ask John Calipari, whose effusive praise of Fox and public calls for him to keep his job at Georgia felt a bit like a boxer lobbying to keep his bloody sparring partner in the ring.

Peter is a Georgia grad and casual-at-best Georgia basketball fan who’s lived in the Bay Area for the last six years. 

Take a look at the 2019 Oakland A's promotional giveaway calendar

Grab this bad boy on April 20th versus the Blue Jays.

Grab this bad boy on April 20th versus the Blue Jays.

By Connor Buestad |

After another early playoff exit in 2018, the Oakland A’s were back in uniform for the first time on Monday in Arizona, looking to spit out the last of the bad tastes left over from Yankee Stadium. The 2019 A’s have a whole lot to look forward to, as they bring back their young core group that won almost 100 games a year ago. Budding stars Matt Chapman and Matt Olson both are freshly minted Gold Glovers, Ramon Laureano is a human highlight reel in center, Khris Davis is coming off a league leading 48 homers and Blake Treinen is an All-Star stopper coming out of the pen. Gone is fellow All-Star Jed Lowrie, but he has been replaced by the talented Jurickson Profar at second base, coming over from Texas. If the A’s can put together some reliable starting pitching, an AL West title is certainly not out of the question, regardless of how well the Astros are playing.

With the growing excitement surrounding the upcoming season, it makes sense to take a look at the promotional giveaway calendar on offer at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. With the Warriors leaving the Town in June and the Raiders being sued by the city, the A’s are likely to have the friendly confines of the Coliseum all to themselves.

The unofficial list below should give you an extra nudge to get out to the Coliseum in the year ahead. Highlights include three bobblehead days (Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Bert Campaneris), seven fireworks nights, 1989 World Series Reunion Night vs. the Giants, Fanny Pack Day and Khris Davis Bat Day.

March 28 vs. Angels: “Win for Hero-Town Rally Towel.” After starting the season in Japan on March 20th, the A’s return to Oakland to kick off the season with day baseball in Oakland. They’ll be handing out Hero-Town Rally Towels. Hopefully these rally towels will be green collar.

March 29 vs. Angels: Bob Melvin Manager of the Year pin. This is also the first Green Friday of the year where the A’s wear their Kelly Green alternates. Green Fridays > Orange Fridays. There I said it.

April 16 vs. Astros: First “Free Parking Tuesday” of the year. There won’t be free parking at the new stadium. Cherish this.

April 20th vs. Blue Jays: Matt Chapman Gold Glove Bobblehead. Very well deserved.

May 8th vs. Reds: Saint Mary’s College Night. There are a lot of other college nights not listed here, but God is a Gael. Also, come boo Yasiel Puig in a Reds uniform. Guaranteed fun.

May 10th vs. Indians: Fireworks Night #1. Your first chance to get out on the beautiful Coliseum grass.

May 12th vs. Indians: Mother’s Day Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Go watch Krush Davis launch baseballs with a pink bat.

May 25th vs. Mariners: Rally Candle Night. Should be interesting.

June 1st vs. Astros: Fanny Pack Day. Fanny Packs are the new black.

June 14th vs. Mariners: Fireworks Night #2.

June 16th vs. Mariners: Fathers Day Khris Davis Bat Day. Will help you hit 48 bombs in your adult softball league.

June 20th vs. Rays: Oakland Larks cap. Good looking, OG hat.

June 22 vs. Rays: Matt Olson Gold Glove Bobblehead. Still under construction, but expect the glove to be dipped in gold.

July 3rd vs. Twins: Fireworks Night #3.

July 4th vs. Twins: Tote Bag Day. Save 10 cents on grocery bags!

July 14th vs. White Sox: T-shirt day. Presented by Cache Creek Casino, so expect high quality.

July 27th vs. Rangers: Fireworks Night #4.

July 28th vs. Rangers: Root Beer Float Day. Find Dallas Braden and Shooty Babitt to get you a generous scoop.

August 4th vs. Cardinals: T-shirt Day #2. Also presented by Cache Creek.

August 17th vs. Astros: Fireworks Night #5.

August 18th vs. Astros: Beerfest. Fresh beer in the Treehouse.

August 24th vs. Giants: 1989 World Series Champions Team Reunion. A rough night for Giants fans.

September 7th vs. Tigers: Fireworks Night #6.

September 8th vs. Tigers: Bert Campaneris Bobblehead Day. Campy!

September 21 vs. Rangers: Fireworks Night #7.

September 22nd vs. Rangers: Fan Appreciation Day. Celebrating 51 years in Oaktown, hopefully pushing for a pennant in late September…

(For the full, official calendar, click here)

Tim Kawakami and Ethan Strauss piss off KD, which makes sense

By Connor Buestad |

Tim Kawakami has Section925 blocked on Twitter, out of laughable sports blogging pettiness, so I haven’t been allowed to keep up on his hot takes in the sports world as of late. His co-worker at The Athletic, Ethan Strauss is also hard for me to find behind the site’s paywall. Regardless, the two writers are clearly talented and successful in their own right, with the pedigree and player access to prove it. That being said, there’s no arguing that both of these reporters have a habit of getting under the skin of the athletes and coaches that they cover. In fact, they seem to take pride in this. They portray themselves as bad-ass journalists that don’t back down when they are fed bullshit in a press conference. They would tell you how they stand up for what’s right and report on the truth. They refuse to be in the business of Public Relations for the teams they cover. Straight shooters that their readers can trust, they’ll tell you.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you go out of your way to stir up some shit with a player or coach, your subject might eventually get a little fed up. I remember when Kawakami covered Jim Harbaugh’s successful 49ers teams, there was always tension between him and the team. Sure, Harbaugh could be a jerk in interviews, but Kawakami continued to pester Jim and the front office, even when it was clear they were in no mood to talk. Kawakami was essentially asking for it, always looking to ruffle feathers. Always asking one more question than was appropriate.

For this reason, it comes as no surprise that Durant snapped at his recent press conference. Yes, Kristaps Porzingis had been traded out of New York to clear up cap space, and yes KD is embarking on free agency. But Durant still has the right to be upset that Strauss decided to publish a piece declaring that Durant already has his foot out the door to NYC. It’s really not that complicated. Durant has never said he wants to leave the Warriors, but the media covering his team are writing about how he’s going to be gone. So that pisses him off, especially when you consider his production in a Warriors uniform, two Finals MVP’s, etc.

This three minute press conference has been analyzed and debated to death by the national media, but to me, it couldn’t be more simple if you watch the whole thing play out. Kawakami kicks off the questioning with something he knows Durant doesn’t want to discuss. What is Durant supposed to say in that situation? “Yes, yes I think New York sounds fun, I’ll probably go play there next year. Thanks.” Of course he’s not in the mood to hear that question and of course we know he can’t really answer it with anything other than “I’m here to win games for Golden State and that’s what I’m focused on. Thanks.” That’s what Durant could have, and probably should have said, but instead he was more honest with how he felt. How he felt betrayed by the media when all he’s been doing is producing for the Warriors and keeping his mouth shut. Durant wasn’t asking for a fight, but Kawakami and his buddy Ethan brought him one anyway. Naturally, he got defensive and to be honest, it’s hard for me to blame him. Kawakami and Strauss set out to get Durant to crack and that’s exactly what they got. Nobody involved should act surprised.

(Below: listen to Strauss joke about Durant and the press conference and also hear KD add more context to the story.)

Apparently You Shouldn't Bet Against Jared Goff, Despite What Deadspin Says

Brewed in Marin, Jared Goff showed Joe Montana-like qualities in the NFC title game inside a hostile Louisiana Superdome. (image via Getty)

By Connor Buestad |

Back in 2013, Jared Goff arrived on the campus of UC Berkeley as a token skinny blonde kid from Marin Catholic High School, hoping to win the starting quarterback job for the Golden Bears. For various reasons, I had my doubts about how he would fare as a true freshman in the Pac-12. To be honest, I thought Zach Kline, the hyped gunslinger from San Ramon Valley, deserved to beat him out for the job headed into the fall. His high school field didn’t even have lights, I reasoned. How could he take over at the helm of a major college football team that quickly and easily? Shouldn’t Kline, with a year under his belt in college, not to mention a stronger arm, get the first crack at the job?

Ultimately, Sonny Dykes selected Goff to run the show for the Bears, effectively handing him his slick Air Raid Offense playbook and getting out of the way. In year one, despite some flashes of brilliance in the pocket, Goff struggled mightily as Cal sputtered to a 1-11 record, with their lone win coming at home versus Portland State, a team that can’t exactly call itself Division 1.

Despite the adversity, Goff bounced back with big passing seasons as a sophomore and junior, thriving in Dykes’ open air offense. Blessed with a strong receiving corps around him, Goff began to attract the attention of NFL scouts with his ability to put a ball on a dime, while never getting truly rattled, even on the road at the likes of the University of Texas.

Yet for as much success as Goff had on the collegiate level, he never quite solidified himself as a truly big-time quarterback. Alarmingly, over his three years with the Bears, Goff never once beat a top-25 team. Yes, you could argue that his defense was the problem, but Goff also shrunk in big moments himself. Perhaps his biggest test came as a junior on the road at no. 5 Utah, with College Gameday present in Salt Lake City. The 23rd ranked Bears gave themselves a chance to win that night, but ultimately could not overcome Goff throwing FIVE interceptions.

But, true to form, Goff would let his low points roll off his back and by year’s end, the junior was throwing six touchdowns in a bowl game victory over Air Force. NFL scouts were loving every minute of it, apparently.

When draft day hit in Chicago in the spring of 2016, one of the main storylines was how weak of a draft class it was for QB’s. Beside Goff and Carson Wentz, it was slim pickings. The LA Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher needed a franchise QB, so they went with Goff at number one overall, leaving Wentz for the Philadelphia Eagles at #2. Almost immediately, Goff became a rookie bust. Meanwhile, Wentz hit the ground running, leading the Eagles offense and winning games immediately and winning over the Philly faithful.

Deadspin foreshadowed Goff’s rookie campaign beautifully by ripping him a new one for his unabashed, over-the-top marketing efforts on draft night. The first overall pick was bashed for his social media ads on his personal channels with the article titled “Man, Jared Goff Loves Brands,” which basically made fun of him for squeezing every last dollar out of a night he was already making millions on.

By June of 2016, Goff was back in the news with Deadspin’s prestigious site for going back on his word with LA Dodger Yasiel Puig. A life-long Giants fan, Goff has been known to hunt souvenir baseballs in the stands at Pac Bell Park in a cream colored SF jersey. As a teenager, he even went as far as to tweet out his desire for Puig to get drilled in the ribs. That’s why it was a bit lame to see Goff immediately buddy up with Puig in a Dodgers jersey on the field at Chavez Ravine. Naturally, Deadspin gave the rookie hell for it with the headline, “Jared Goff Buddies Up With Yasiel Puig, Betrays the Sanctity of His Takes.” Honestly, it was pretty well deserved when you considered the sanctity of the Giants-Dodgers/NorCal-SoCal rivalry. Poor form indeed.

When the preseason of Goff’s first pro season got underway, he looked, well, really bad. Thus, drawing the headline, “Jared Goff Looks Kinda Butt” by Deadspin. Under the guidance of Fisher, Goff looked lost leading the Rams offense, quickly spurring on whispers of “is Goff a bust?” from guys like Colin Cowherd and the like. Of course, it was way too soon for this type of chatter, but then again, it could very well have been true. He did look pretty butt out there.

To add to the “bust” whispers, Goff didn’t even suit up in his first game as an LA Ram. Coach Fisher seemed too worried to let him be the second string QB against his hometown 49ers on Opening Night. So instead, the first overall pick in the draft would be asked to watch cautiously from the sideline and take notes form Case Keenum. The headline “The Rams Might Be In A New City, But They Still Suck” was run by Deadspin, outlining the apparent dysfunction of the new-look Rams franchise.

By the time Goff finally got a chance to suit up for Fisher’s archaic offense, the only Deadspin headline Goff could produce was one of a casual mocking. “Jeff Fisher Pleased With Jared Goff’s Ability to Perform Basic Funcitons,” it read. Still pretty depressing all things considered.

2017, however, was an entirely different story for Goff and the LA Rams. Fisher was sent packing and in came 31-year-old Sean McVay to the rescue. The offensive wonderboy didn’t waste any time in his first season as an NFL head coach, winning the NFC West with an 11-5 record. In one short year, Goff went from an NFL cautionary tale, to a Pro Bowl and a playoff appearance. It all happened so fast that the media, especially Deadspin, didn’t know what to make of it. Was this real life? Would McVay’s secret sauce be sniffed out? Could Goff continue to slice up NFL defenses at this alarming rate? Most were still skeptical.

By year two of the McVay era, there was no denying that the Rams were on to something. And by the middle of this season, after turning in one of the most electric games in Monday Night Football history, Deadspin in particular began to wonder, “Was That the Future of Football?” And if you thought about it for a second, it absolutely was. Jared Goff vs. Patrick Mahomes trading touchdowns to the tune of 54-51 in LA. Yes, the future football was upon us.

Yet even as Goff was solidifying himself as young star quarterback in year three of his prosperous NFL career, the naysayers still had reason to believe the skinny blonde kid from Marin would eventually fall back to earth and fulfill “bust” label that seemed to fit him well enough. A few bad games and the narrative could be unearthed once again. And that is exactly what happened. “It Only Took Four Bears to Make Jared Goff Look Like a Chump.”

Yes, technically that would be correct, Deadspin. Then again, the Bears defense isn’t all that chumpish (Khalil Mack, heard of him). But wait, the struggles continued, prompting the concerned Deadspin headline, “Jared Goff Is Really Struggling” to pop up as a headline. The article read as follows:

The Jared Goff who seemed like an obvious MVP candidate three weeks ago is nowhere to be seen. In his last three games, Goff has only one touchdown against seven interceptions; compare that to 26 and six over the first 11 weeks of the season. The Rams were perhaps the best team in the NFL through 11 weeks, winning the game of the season and only dropping a thriller to the Saints, in which Goff played heroically. Since winning that Monday Night Football classic, Los Angeles has gone 1-2, struggling to dispatch the Lions two weeks ago, getting crunched by the Bears last week, and convincingly losing to the Nick Foles-led Eagles this week, their first home loss of the season.

That’s why going into the NFC Championship game in New Orleans, I made the conscious (more importantly sober) decision to bet against Goff. He was getting just three points on the road in front of a literally deafening New Orleans Saints crowd. On the other side of the ball was the ultra-experienced Drew Brees, a 40-year old competitive junkie who basically never loses at home inside the dome. A man with a Super Bowl to his name and over a dozen playoff appearances as a starting QB. The Saints had the savvy Sean Payton leading them, while the Rams countered with 32-year-old McVay, a guy who still hasn’t finished two seasons as a head coach in the NFL. Goff had never one a truly big game in his life. Would he start now? Well… yes.

Say what you will about the “worst call in NFL history,” Goff made plays for his team to put them in position to win the game. With Montana’s #16 displayed proudly across his chest, Goff weathered a treacherous storm in the first quarter when the Rams fell down 13-0 to start the game. He could have easily folded at that point, as most other unproven quarterbacks that young would have been swallowed up by the noise in the dome. All his excuses were built in and ready to go. He could head into the post-game pressor and talk positively about how young the Rams were as a team from top to bottom and how much room they had to grow in the seasons to come. The narrative would have made sense. But somehow, Goff was able to push the noise of the fans and the headlines aside and pull out an improbable, albeit controversial victory in the face of sure defeat.

Now onto Atlanta Goff goes for Super Bowl 53, to square off against one of his childhood heroes in Tom Brady, another Bay Area native in his own right. If you want to bet against Goff in the Super Bowl, by all means go ahead. After all, the Vegas odds will be in your favor. Just don’t expect Deadspin to use the word “bust” and “Goff” in the same sentence anytime in the future. They’re way too smart for that.

Chris Ballard goes deep in an insightful Warriors Sports Illustrated profile

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There's no franchise in sports quite like the Golden State Warriors. From big accomplishments (a third title) to countless little things (about coach Steve Kerr’s beers…), the Sportsperson of the Year award recipients took care of business in a sometimes-trying 2018, with an indelible ethos that has made them a joy to watch and a dynasty that endures.

Hoopaholic Diaries, Episode 2: It’s the Management, Idiot

Things have turned tumultuous in the Warriors’ final season in The Town.

Things have turned tumultuous in the Warriors’ final season in The Town.

By Amos Manary

Whew… It just sucks.  They’ve done it to themselves, the self-inflicted sabotage that seems to undo most every NBA dynasty.  The pettiness that plagues the country at large has infected basketball’s alleged empire of egoless joy.  Alas, all empires, be they benevolent or malevolent, die of suicide.  They’ll probably still win it all, this year, and possibly even maintain their supremacy, in spite of the apparent inevitability that not only did the KD-Warriors honeymoon conclude (right after the first championship), but that the whole marriage is doomed.

KD never said, “Till death do us part.”

Everything that could possibly be said already has been said.  So much so that every case has been melodramatically overcooked and served up like a hockey-puck hamburger.  It’s a bit like a slightly ambiguous, but nevertheless ominous, medical diagnosis – the Warriors, at minimum, have a heart condition.   It’s as if the team just found out it’s HIV-positive.  Manageable, perhaps, but a new, starker reality.  And now the fanbase has been left to choose sides, because one of their feuding All-Stars must be to blame.

Everybody’s points are valid, but incomplete.  Maybe Durant is a bit diva-ish; that Draymond can take things way too far is nothing new.  People are so quick to forget!  It’s a goddamned team game – and ain’t about Draymond or Kevin, it’s the whole shebang.  Steph being out certainly precipitated it, but even if his saintly, savior-esque personage hadn’t been absent, it all woulda blown up eventually, as all festering malignancies do, when ignored or mismanaged.  The Warriors had their chance to see the relationship counselor – come June it’ll be time for the divorce lawyer, which’ll be of no use, since there never was any marriage.  

The problem is systematically general, so if you gotta blame someone, blame general manager Bob Meyers – if the Warriors’ glorious tower joy crumbles unceremoniously – or even half as unceremoniously as the shit-show that’ll be looked back on as the first purloin in the veneer, blame those at the top, who unquestionably saw the fires first, and failed in whatever attempts they might have made to put it out… Talking heads claiming special knowledge have said it’s much worse than has so far come out – what Draymond said, behind closed doors, to KD.  I lack the imagination to conjure the connotative destructiveness Draymond’s capable of unleashing…

First things first.  As for the micro-drama at the end of the now infamous Clippers game.  Of course things would fall apart against the Clippers, whose Sterling demons cannot be vanquished by Jerry West’s dignity, nor Steve Ballmer’s madman enthusiasms.  Draymond made a bad play; should have dropped off the rock with Durant and filled a lane.  Minor demerits to both guys.  To say Draymond overreacted would be valid but for its oxymoronic quality.  Which is why KD shoulda held his tongue, at least a bit – that Draymond went bonkers can at least mostly be chalked up to his general unpredictability, which by the way, reeks of MK Ultra mind control.  Perhaps Draymond’s handlers have just been having a bit of fun.

I have no idea what kinda tension’s been building between the two, and normally try to steer clear of gossip, in general, and especially when it comes to anything I actually care about… Alas, my beloved Golden State Warriors… whom I be-love so not for their coincidental geographical positioning in the region of my rearing, but for that aforementioned goddamn joy, which was evident so recently (when Klay broke Steph’s record for 3’s in a game just a few weeks ago).

I hate to say I saw it coming.  And it had nothing to do with KD going to the Knicks or clairvoyant visions of a titanic Draymond meltdown.  It was fucking Bob Meyers up there on stage at last summer’s victory parade.  For the second straight year I watched the shit live-streamed from Oakland to Saigon.  Highly inconvenient, time difference and all.  I say shit because, compared to the year before, the parade was just awful.  The shitty energy shone through the cyber sea-cables.  The drunkenness was embellished.  Even Steph looked shady.  But Bob Meyers with that snarky remark about Durant not being quite as important as the guys who’d been there from the start.  Why not throw Kerr under the bus too while you’re at it?  Get Mark Jackson up there for fuck’s sake!  He’s the coach who midwifed the birth of the Splash Brothers.  Oh it rankled me something fitful.  “And there ended the Warriors’ cohesion,” said Bob Fitzgerald in immediate reaction.  Meyers then jokes, only half sarcastically, saying that yes, that [his bonehead comment from five seconds earlier] would probably be the “first fissure.”  And here’s why it was and is:

The Warriors lost to LeBron when his next two best teammates made it through the Finals halfway healthy.  Led by Draymond, they woo KD aboard.  Half the world calls KD a pussy bitch.  The Warriors alone seem to have his back.  And none more ferociously than Draymond.  Maybe Durant has been lording his impending free agency over his teammates’ heads, I dunno.  Maybe he’s not exactly the guy who made that MVP speech.  I think he is.  I think he’s probably one of the five or six sanest players in the league, along with Klay, Steph, DeRozan, Kevin Love, there’s a few NBA all-stars who, for whatever reason appear to my ignorant eyes as super obviously normal-ass people.  Draymond ain’t one of ‘em.  And I love him.  Because, for no other reason, you need sociopaths like Michael Jordan or Draymond Green if you’re gonna win it all…

It remains to be seen if Bob can keep Kevin satisfied with life in the Bay Area past the summer of 2019.

It remains to be seen if Bob can keep Kevin satisfied with life in the Bay Area past the summer of 2019.

But Meyers’(albeit) tongue and cheek joshing of Durant at the victory parade illuminated the reality that the organization wasn’t immune to the hypocritical, hyper-criticism of Kevin Durant, based solely on his choice to join the Warriors, who had of course – and this can’t be overemphasized – all but begged him to join them.  

Durant, as has been well-overpublicized, was slow to get over, past, and through the waves of resentment that ricocheted his way upon departing Oklahoma, and which, as his multi-podcast interviewer Bill Simmons recently noted, Durant seemed to have expected to pass in the wake of, if not one, but certainly two titles, back-to-back Finals MVP – if he could enter LeBron’s echelon, in championships… if he could provoke pundits to openly wonder, was/is LeBron unquestionably still the best player on the planet… if he could do all that, then, like the LBJ to Miami Decision deriders, his naysayers would slink back to the oblivion from whence they came… Nobody mentioned the decision once LeBron started winning titles with Bosh and Wade.  But back-to-back titles didn’t stop anonymous idiots and NBA legends alike (Walt Clyde Frazier, for one, who’ll surely change his tune on KD should he opt to become a Knickerbocker) from insisting an asterisks to forever suffix Durant* … in the Akashic annals of basketball, Kevin Durant relegated to a widow’s peak corner in the least prestigious nook of the Basketball Hall of Fame attic – and what Bob Meyers’ dumb-ass mouth-fart revealed for Durant, methinks, was that the Warriors themselves were in on it too, the petty-ass ball-busting, because that’s what Meyers’ comments conveyed – we might love you KD, we might depend on you, but we have our own asterisks for you.  I bet that for Durant that fucking hypothetical asterisks feels as real as a goddamn Star of David on a Jew’s chest, circa the end days of the Weimar Republic. 

The Splash Brothers incubating under JV coach Mark Jackson; JaVale, Bogut, Harrison Barnes beating LeBron and Delly (minus injured Kyrie and K. Love) for the first title since Al Attles – all very cute and quaint.  But it’s now and there’s only now.  They have two of the three best players in basketball.  Klay and Draymond are both top 20 players.  Boogie too.  But I’d scrap everybody if it meant holding onto Steph, KD and Steve Kerr.  Lose Bob Meyers immediately.  I realize now, expunging the last of this vomit that I’ve misspelled his name each and every time.  So be it.  Steve, you shoulda been on this earlier.  I’m sure you did your best.

If Draymond is butt-hurt that KD might do what he did before, leave his current team for greener pastures, if he expected KD to treat his initial signage with the Warriors like some kinda wedding vow, then he’s only guilty of that all too human tendency toward attachment, irrational and idiotic as it is, we humans don’t like change when it don’t benefit us.  Whatever the beef, I’m not surprised Warriors’ management was unable to quell its hideous inertia – because Draymond is the heart and soul of the team… he’s the extrapolation, extension, personification of the whole handcrafted fairy tale, the very emblem of the allegedly more organic acquisition of the players who won 73 games without Durant.  Second round pick fat kid, likely MK Ultra mind control victim, Draymond Green, with the charisma to woo KD spewing a different flavor of the same venom KD’s unlikely to ever understand –

The public suspension (humiliation) of Draymond is the best evidence of management’s guilty conscience.  Pinning it all on the emblem won’t solve shit.  Maybe they can resign Boogie and emerge none the worse for wear.  I don’t think so.

Why not leave, if you’re KD?  Because every other situation would be worse.  The solution?  Go to Charlotte and play with Kemba and for MJ?  Hmm.  The whole team needs an Ayahuasca (or San Pedro) ceremony led by legit shamans (not just a bit of sage and clever witticisms from Phil Jackson) – a team shroom trip at minimum – the Warriors are in need of psychedelic healing… Bob Meyers, if you’re still worth a damn, you’ll call Bill Walton immediately.  Bill Walton could fix this… if his son wasn’t coaching the Lakers.  Too late.  Don’t think he’s available.

The Warriors were miscast as villains.  Till they started turning on each other.  The first public sign I saw was the team president’s innocuous – (so says conventional idiocy) - ribbing of Durant (which if he reacts to, conventional idiocy renders him hypersensitive, i.e. a pussy bitch, i.e., not a man). 

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are both beautiful basketball players.  I’ll root for them both till they hang it up.  But, and this was the initial point lost on everyone but Durant and his family, Kevin Durant is a MAN… and he might well decide the best team for him is no longer the Warriors, Draymond or no Draymond and if Draymond can’t handle that reality… then he’s as certifiable as the President, of the United States, and perhaps just as culpable as his top supervisor at his job.  

So this is what David West was referring to…


Mister Blackwood*

Coach Tom Blackwood and arch-rival Rob Collins battling it out at Acalanes High School on some Friday night in the 90s

Coach Tom Blackwood and arch-rival Rob Collins battling it out at Acalanes High School on some Friday night in the 90s

Mister Blackwood*

Piece of work, we used to call ‘em

That kid’s a real piece of work

And so were we

You, Crazy Tommy

Roger Durant calling you that, telling me stories from the 70s

You were a piece of work

But for all who saw you scream

So few saw the art

I nearly missed it too

TJB CAT, another original Minnesotan

Basketball coach, history teacher, father

Husband, ex-husband

Letter of recommendation writer for us all

You’re a piece of artwork

And now that you’re gone, nearly two decades into a strange century

It’s all too concise and too clear

The world you’ve left will not produce another you

It’s hard to imagine you escaped the 90s intact

To call you a character understates, overstates, underwhelms

You were a Picasso, born of Norman Rockwell and Bob Knight

You were better than Bobby Knight, better than Frank Allocco

Better at being human

For all your autocratic leanings you were a softie

My parents let me choose my own religion

I chose basketball

The gym, that gym, became my church

You were my father

You made life feel like Hoosiers

Those sweaters

Those snarls

Rare and cherished Cheshire smiles

Your voice bellowing throughout greater Martinez





Thank you, Mr. Blackwood

For Olympic Drill at summer camp

For hauling us to Chico, Healdsburg, Carmel

For making me drive you home when I was less drunk than you

For teaching me how to love video poker

For the two-foot power layup

For inspiring me to attempt to perfect the elbow jump shot

Thank you Coach, for never contorting or conforming

Thank you for letting me pay you back

For allowing me to redeem my adolescent ingratitude

For letting me scream at you




Thank you for trusting me to coach Justin

Thank you for sending me out of history class to put new nets on the rims

For those magical no-look bounce passes you used to throw in practice

Thank you for always having my back

I should have wrote this before you died

I’m sorry

I love you

Your movie’s over

It’s official now, you’re a classic

Andy Read: “No one ever said Jesus Christ better than he did.”

It’s true, and it counts

Flags half-mast in Minnesota

And Miramonte 

One-Two-Three… TOGETHER

*By one of the proud, the many, worst point guards in Miramonte history

Hoopaholic Diaries, Episode 1: Numinous Beatific Appreciation

The rich get richer -- Boogie Cousins' achilles injury made way for the addition of the Warriors' fifth all-star (photo by Aric Crabb)

The rich get richer -- Boogie Cousins' achilles injury made way for the addition of the Warriors' fifth all-star (photo by Aric Crabb)

By Amos Manary

These are depraved times for a recovering basketball junkie.  As has been noted by each and every of the innumerable mouthpieces on behalf of endless outlets, this new era of ‘empowered player mobility’ has made the NBA an industry that never quits.  Gone are the days when the basketball monogamist had to wait through baseball and football seasons in order to get some action.

Unfortunately, most of the coverage is commensurately oleaginous with the vulgar times in which we unintentionally exist.  While the NBA is perceived as infinitely more ‘progressive’ than its American professional sporting counterparts, it’s nonsense nonetheless.  Smarter, slicker, Adam Silver’s public relations minions are indeed shrewder than the boneheads who run MLB, the NFL, NASCAR, et al, but that’s it. Every TV-talking hoop-head insists on referring to the human talents employed by individual NBA franchises as ‘assets,’ which of course they are, as are prospective draft picks, and enigmatic piles of hypothetical cash known as ‘cap space.’  I know, I know, they’re millionaires – but assets reeks of auction blocks.  Again, I know professional basketball is ‘a business,’ and if there’s anything that Americans actually know it’s that it’s money and only money that makes things go and that money’s got no morality, nor should anyone expect it to.  All’s fair in love and war and NBA free agency.  Finally, the elite within the NBA proletariat – i.e. the only league employees who actually play the basketball which produces profits in excess of the GDP of half the countries in the world – finally, the Ghost of Curt Flood has deluged the NBA and a handful of human beings who happen to be the very best at what they do are able to choose where they work… Hooray for the U.S.A.!  Adam Smith to Adam Silver, what a benign byproduct of our sacred goddamned market!  It’s a business!

Hate KD on the Warriors?  Blame Oakland Tech's Curt Flood, who inadvertently helped create the modern NBA superteams.

Hate KD on the Warriors?  Blame Oakland Tech's Curt Flood, who inadvertently helped create the modern NBA superteams.

Except that apparently, it also isn’t – or the hoop universe ain’t immune to the bizarre, overriding hypocrisy endemic and perhaps innate to the American experiment, the central premise of which has always been: how to best pedal this crap?  The metaphysical corporatism that’s tattooed to the American psyche.  Serious blind spots.  So while throughout showbiz, actions that might ordinarily be – according to the ethereal standards of basic decency – deemed scurrilous at best, pirate-cutthroat at worst, are excused, exonerated and elevated due solely to potential/actual profitability.  Floyd Mayweather, LaVar Ball, say whatever you may, are good businessmen, and therefore must be given ‘props.’  America’s specialty has always been making excuses for good business, no matter the means by which profits are extracted.  Trump or no Trump, it’s a wonder the extermination of the natives and the enslavement of Africans aren’t praised more openly, as both were extremely good for the miscalled free market.  This is what we as Americans know, deep down, anything’s that’s good business can and will inevitably be not only tolerated, but chalked up to, sanctimoniously mind you, the Progress of Man. 

Yet, for inane reasons too tribally infantile to utter, to half the folks earning their dime blabbing about the goings on of the few hundred fellas who earn their dime playing hoops, from former players to sideline beauty queens, Kevin Durant will always be soft, a ‘traitor’ even – as if the OKC Thunder represent their own republic.  Business is just business unless you’re a black American basketball player who prefers Oakland to Oklahoma City and chooses to play for one of the best coaches instead of one of the worst; who chooses to depend on the game’s top point guard, as opposed to the one who’s literally the least reliable.  It’s not hyperbole. Don’t get me wrong, Russ is fun to watch, a regular Roman orgy of  creatively inefficient athleticism.  But Steph Curry happens to be the most efficient, winningest point guard in the game, with the top ‘true’ shooting percentage in the league, while Westbrook rates dead last in that category.  The talking heads can’t muster four phrases without spitting out something about how it’s the age of ‘analytics,’ yet none of them point out that according to analytics, Durant would have to be a bona fide moron to continue on with Bonehead Donovan and Westbrick, who definitely cares more about fashion than quarterbacking his hoop squad.  And good for him and who cares. 

But to badmouth Durant, insist his human flesh has become synonymous with glutinous confection, because he actually cares about the thing he’s paid millions to do…  Because he wants to be the best he can be…  That he wants to play for the team that’s the best because they’re the best team, for that he’s earned a Scarlet C.  But the C ain’t for cupcake, as the fat-bellyaching blabbering we might call the Collective Charles Barkley Underbelly of Unconsciousness, insinuates or outright insists.  I for one understand why Durant lashes out at any and every Joe Fuckbrain who talks shit about his choices on social media.  He might not know quite how to best express it, but the reality is that Kevin Durant is the reincarnation of Curt Flood and nobody’s appreciating him for that.  The C stands for Curt.  Nobody appreciated Curt Flood either. That OKC was up 3-1 against the Warriors is irrelevant – his move was nothing akin to Michael Jordan joining the Pistons; and even if it was, who the shit cares, lest you’re an Oklahoman middle schooler.  Everyone needs to grow the fuck up, take a peek at the genocide your tax dollars pay for in Yemen and learn to love the Dirk Nowitzki who can guard anyone instead of nobody, the seven-foot Alex English with handles. Wake up America, the Small Forward is one of your greatest creations!         

Larry Legend and the Human Highlight Film. 

Larry Legend and the Human Highlight Film. 

Julius Irving, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, LeBron James, Kevin Durant.  Cheryl Miller, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore.  If you’ve got something bad to say about any of these human beings you don’t have the brains you were born with.  You’re not Big-Game James Worthy of uttering Kevin Durant’s good name.  

The venomous hatred (still) being hurled in KD’s direction, like that for LeBron (but worse) when he went to Miami, is the epitome of madness.  Of all the pro athletes who bash their wives’ faces in or have been involved in other instances of criminally actionable violence, it’s black guys who switch teams of their own volition who catch the most heat.  If you’re one of these (likely proud) ‘haters’ who’s just added a picture of Boogie Cousins to your dart board,  then the Samuel L. Jackson character from Django Unchained is undoubtedly your cinematic hero, lest it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from that same film.  You’re favorite word must be uppity. 

By the way, the sports world hardly made a peep when every great white baseball player in the ‘90s cut their hair, shaved their beards and joined the Yankees.

Now that Durant on the west coast is such old news, the new charge against him is oversensitivity – for some unfathomable reason, we want our entertainers to be perfect.  As if being sensitive is a flaw.  It isn’t.  It’s a tell-tale sign of humanness.  Kevin Durant’s sole ‘crime’ is that he’s all too human.  And like Arthur Rimbaud, absolutely modern.

All eyes on KD (photo by Jamie Sabau)

All eyes on KD (photo by Jamie Sabau)

The NBA itself – meaning the players, coaches, teams, style of play – has never been better.  But the actual basketball warrants nearly nary a mention amid the mountainous coverage devoted to what someone Tweeted, which outlandish outfit Westbrick wore, what Snoop thinks of LeBron’s business acumen, what Kawai Leonard didn’t say, along with quieter innuendos pondering the validity of the so-called Kardashian Curse, aka wondering whether Reality TV alpha-sex-kitten-witches will steal Ben Simmons’ soul and thereby derail the Sixers’ vaunted Process. (Speaking of those demonic lunatics, expect Simmons to have a down year.  The Kardashian Curse – that shit’s real.) 

Process, assets, business, Orwellian notions of perception is reality – that’s what it all boils down to, apparently.

Like everything else in the American death it calls life, the soul, spirit and science have been stripped from all equations.  Go outside the mainstream, it can at least get somewhat fun: the crowd convinced the NBA (and all sports with money at stake) are all rigged as pro wrestling, and who assert that furthermore, it’s just as obvious.  My favorite among this subgroup are those few precious Youtubers dedicated to complexly convoluted theories that all NBA outcomes are predetermined by Kabalistic Gematria wizards salaried by Illuminati honchos to ensure every final score pays homage to Horus or some other god of Babylonian Mystery Religion lore.  I’m as conspiracy-minded as they come and don’t for one second think the days of Tim Donaghy are dead and gone, but this business that they put in number 12 with 12 seconds on the clock so he could nail a 12-foot jumper from the short-corner to bring the losing team’s total to 112 so as to lionize Allister Crowley (and his son, Barbara Bush) – I don’t think they’re right. 

But Barbara Bush, may her soul rest well in hell, was probably Crowley’s son.           

Lookout for the Lake Show: in defense of JaVale

I don’t care what anyone says, the Lakers look good to me.  All this nonsense about ‘colorful characters’ who can’t shoot.  This pervasive presumption the Warriors can only be beaten at their own game is patently false.  As in 2015 (73 wins be damned), the same two dudes represent the only real threat to GSW supremacy: LeBron and Kyrie.  Loads of people are picking the Celtics to make it to the Finals, some saying they’ll prevail.  Nobody’s giving the LeBron a shot to make his ninth straight Finals.  Luke Walton won’t survive if the Lakers miss the playoffs.  Well, I’d think not!  Miss the playoffs?  Are people fucking nuts?  They may wind up the sixth or even seventh seed, but come May, when LBJ’s had many moons to figure out how to utilize his new Cabinet… Look the fuck out.

The Warriors’ vulnerability resides on the glass and in the paint – and kooky as Stephenson, Beasley, Rondo and JaVale have been painted, in reality they’re all scrappers who’ll be tough to keep off the boards and out of the lane.  But the pundits on TV seem to agree – these additions are curious, dubious or just plain dumb and doomed.  Much has been made of this collection of ‘personalities,’ media-speak for cuckoos, which Magic Johnson and Rob (Lowe?) Pelinka have assembled to surround LeBron and the Lakers’ ‘youth core.’  Everyone’s lamenting their lack of long-range snipers.  Even if it’s true that the Lakers are merely embarking on a one-year experiment and will tread water until they can ‘acquire’ a Name Brand To Be Named Later, I’m betting Steve Kerr feels like he’s in Back to the Future – it’s the dawn of the ‘80s all over again, the Lakers and Celtics ready to reclaim the league.

For cruel and unusual reasons, media ringleaders have chosen to forget or ignore the competency JaVale McGee displayed during his stint with Golden State.  Somehow, McGee’s reputation has been illegitimately reverted to its previous status quo: Chief Galoot.  He’s no Kareem, but I’d take him over Tristan Thompson in a heartbeat.  Like the NBA PR slogan says: JaVale cares.  He gives a shit how his team does; does so without ego.  He probably won’t play too much, but he’ll contribute something and won’t harm the Lakers a lick.

JaVale McGee participates in the 5th annual Athletes vs Cancer Celebrity Flag Football Game on August 12, 2018 in Los Angeles

JaVale McGee participates in the 5th annual Athletes vs Cancer Celebrity Flag Football Game on August 12, 2018 in Los Angeles

Everyone says the only way to beat the Warriors is to D’Antoni them to death: take and make more three’s than the Splash Brothers.  Hmm.  The reason the Rockets took the Warriors to Game Seven (besides the absence of Andre Iguodala), was the Warriors’ inability to slow the flow of uncontested Clint Capella dunks and Chris Paul midrange jumpers.  The Warriors have trouble with muscle.  Counterintuitively, guys like P.J. Tucker, a loose-ball-grabbing master, can be weirdly troublesome.  By 21st century standards, the W’s two best players are extraordinarily skinny.  Durant’s revealed himself to be a fantastic defender and Curry’s defense has been unfairly maligned, but their slighter frames can be shoved aside.  Draymond can’t guard everyone.  The legs of Iguodala and Livingston won’t get younger.  The key to beating the Warriors is physicality – nobody’s gonna out-finesse them, you gotta pound them in the paint, bludgeon them with put-backs.  Move the ball, take it to the hole; disrupt their flow, force turnovers; get as many of their all-stars in foul trouble as possible.  Switch everything, shoot more free throws; get more dunks.  

Last year the Cavs traded half their roster, essentially, for the players the Lakers no longer wanted.  Now LeBron gets to play with the guys Magic Johnson (no dummy) thought were worth keeping.  Consider that until Tyronn Lue finally gave Rodney Hood some minutes (after the Finals had long been decided), LeBron had played the entire playoffs without a single teammate who could create his own shot.  LeBron needs a Kyrie Irving, a (somewhat younger) Dwayne Wade, far more than he needs Mike Millers or Kyle Korvers.  Josh Hart can play Kyle Korver much better than Kyle Korver.  The combination of Rondo, Stephenson, Beasley, Ball, Kuzma and Ingram add up to at least half a Kyrie/Wade.  All those guys can make something good happen with the shot clock already wound down.  If nothing more, the Lakers as currently constructed are infinitely better than last season’s Cavs. 

Plenty of folks assume Luke Walton won’t survive the season because he’s not ‘Magic’s guy.’  Personally, I’d love to be the son of Bill heading into next season.  All his guys have a lot to prove, and except in Lonzo’s case, not much to lose.  Whoever ends up coaching them, they’re are in much better shape than anyone other than hopeful Laker/LeBron fans are envisioning.  They’re a hard guard; a lot of guys who can get to the cup.  Kinda crazy maybe, compared to say Kyle Korver, but LeBron thrives in chaos, and if the colorful characters exude as much chaos and contentiousness as everyone seems to think they will, Magic, LeBron and Luke will figure out how to channel that energy towards Warrior slaying.  Lonzo will shoot better and his father will shut up or the son will be benched, traded or have his star status permanently relegated to the reality show realm.

Don’t underestimate Magic and his Non-Brons.  They might end up with Kawai or Anthony Davis or Jimmy Butler before the trade deadline, and even if they don’t, should the Lakers and Warriors square off in the playoffs, I promise you LBJ won’t get swept again.

That being said, whether Boogie’s Achilles heals or not, the Warriors will win it all again next year and nobody less invested will be more pleased than yours truly.  If they stay healthy, all other prognostications will be quickly rendered obsolete.  Klay won’t go to L.A.  Durant ain’t leavin’.  Hate the Warriors?  Grow up, get used to it, jump out the window – it’s not gonna get any better for you anytime soon.

Speaking of KD, have you seen him play basketball?

Read what Andre Iguodala said recently – he’s right, Durant’s the most efficient, versatile scorer ever.  Without weakness, he never goes backwards, even on fade-away step-back jumpers.  Even when he reverts to the iso-habits honed under Scotty Brooks and Bonebrain Donovan, he never takes ten dribbles over eight seconds without going anywhere.  John Wooden loves him from heaven.  Positive step.

New Negative Norm

I know why, but still must groan why when I see the new preferred format for televised sports talk.  Shows like ESPN’s First Take and Fox’s Undisputed have decided the best way to maximize ratings is to seat some former sorority queen in mammary-accentuating dress between two or more blabbering debater-dingbat-dudes and meekly, maternally referee the monkey-mind vomit they spew screamingly.  Here I must insert mild praise for ESPN’s The Jump and its hostess Rachel Nichols, who’s a relative Georgina Plimpton when juxtaposed against the aforementioned useless floozies, worst of which is always the potential Playmate of the Month who sidekicks for Colin Cowherd like a lobotomized, Caucasian Robin Quivers – and boy is Cowherd no Howard Stern.  Though perhaps never has a man possessed a more apropos moniker – he literally herds the cows.

Kareem was also right when he recently dismissed the who’s the GOAT question out of hand, calmly as only Kareem can, explaining that since basketball is a team game, consisting of athletes who play with different teammates, for different coaches, in different eras, comparing them directly without consideration to their diverse circumstances, is absolutely useless.  As stupid as comparing Bob Marley to Beethoven.

NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The most idiotic topic I’ve heard explored:

“Michael Jordan’s legacy dinged by LeBron’s philanthropy.”  Yes, in terms of social consciousness, Nike (evil sweatshop corporation) shill LBJ does trump Nike shill MJ.  And Putin ain’t no Stalin.  So fucking what.  It’s great LeBron builds schools and calls Trump a bum – but to act like he’s Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell or Kareem, to infer there’s one iota of risk to his so-called outspokenness is like making Anderson Cooper out to be Harvey Milk, or to say Cari Champion is rather similar to Ida B. Wells.  Or better still, it’s like saying Omarosa is the modern day equivalent of Harriet Tubman.  

Best Offseason Footage Findable on Youtube

Coach Pop playing spirited dummy-d against the Team USA in drills.  Looking spry at nearly 70, it’s no wonder the recent widower has been so successful – he loves what he does.  It’s the most underplayed aspect to the Lone Superpower, villainous-for-no-reason (beyond their top-to-bottom competency) Warriors: Coach Kerr’s revolutionary emphasis on Joy.  Popovich ain’t known for fun or funniness, lest it’s the deadpan sarcasm he employs to belittle the imbecilic questions the league forces him to field.  Watch for DeMar DeRozan to have a career-year for the Spurs – and more fun than he’s had in years, in spite of the Spurs’ legendary no-nonsense approach.

James Harden performs no differently in the Drew League than he does with the Rockets.  What a strange goofy-footed genius he is – and what a horrific defender.  His favorite thing to do, no matter the venue, is to catch the ball and hold it for a relative infinity, jab-step nine or ten times, and then shoot a long three without ever having moved, with his four teammates left with no other choice but to watch, along with the rest of us.  In the NBA stats are like profits and nobody can resist lauding the giant margins guys like Westbrick and Hardshot post each quarter.  My vote for last season’s MVP would have been: 1) LeBron 2) Durant 3) Curry.  Anthony Davis would be in there.  All awards suck.  Pointless, useless back-slapping.  I pray the NBA drops its new Oscars’-esque nonsense.  Regular season honors should be granted immediately after the 82nd game.

Bringing it all Back Home

Last potshot at those who laud the NBA as more enlightened than the NFL – it’s like saying Trump is better than Pence because the President’s fascistic tendencies are more secularized, or those who prefer Pence because he’s never once uttered pussy with an ovarian connotation.  NBA players kneeling for the anthem?  Out of the fucking question – standing in worshipful attention for the anthem has always been absolutely obligatory.  The last NBA guy who tried to sit for the anthem got run out of the league faster than you can think assalamu-alaikum.  Do yourself a favor and learn what happened to Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Craig Hodges after he wore a dashiki to the White House and dared present the first President Bush with a letter detailing his civic concerns in the wake of Rodney King.

Things have gotten much worse since the days of Rodney King.  Beatings like the one he somehow survived are less common.  Now they just shoot to kill.  Or beat you to death for not putting out your cigarette after not putting on your blinker to change lanes.  In the America of Sandra Bland, people have their panties in a knot over guys on one knee during the song by Mr. F.S. Key.  The National Anthem should be changed to ‘This Land is Your Land’ and everyone should get on both knees and pray to Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse et al for undeserved forgiveness.  It’s only the most gargantuan genocide ever, but the NFL team in the nation’s capital city will always be the Redskins.  Think of a Berlin soccer club and its fans insisting it be allowed to call itself the Kikes.  

Basketball remains the most democratic of sports – and in the Association, the best team always wins: the team that’s chemically most cohesive, which is most similar to a great jazz quintet.  Players, like musicians, oft possess egomaniacal traits, but in order to succeed, those tendencies must be sublimated for the greater good.  So if one has the childlike nerve to honor fun as part of the reckoning, the Warriors are even farther ahead than their insane assemblage of talent would indicate.


Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf prays during the National Anthem at a March 1996 game in Chicago. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf prays during the National Anthem at a March 1996 game in Chicago. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)