Hoping to fill the void a new professional soccer team in the East Bay, the Oakland Roots are attempting to win the heart of the Oakland community through a strong branding and marketing campaign that emphasizes its deep ties to the city. The Roots debuted this Saturday evening at Laney College in the newly minted National Independent Soccer Association. Their first opponent was the California United Strikers.
By Billy Haisley (Deadspin.com)
It’s safe to say Jay-Z, to some extent, takes cues from Colin Kaepernick. Jay-Z has expressed his admiration of the former quarterback before, once calling him an “iconic figure.” In the aftermath of Kaepernick’s black-balling from the NFL for his peaceful protest of police killing unarmed black men, Jay-Z rejected the league’s offer to have him perform at the Super Bowl in solidarity. And in a disappointing though unsurprising turn of events, Jay-Z has once again followed Kaepernick’s lead by selling himself and the things he represents to a soulless corporation that will use him to sell things.
Yesterday, the NFL announced that it had bought off Jay-Z’s once-seemingly resolute antagonism toward it by reaching an extensive, and presumably quite lucrative, partnership agreement with Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation. The partnership’s aim is “to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts.” This will include Roc Nation taking the lead on wrangling entertainers to perform at events like the Super Bowl, hopefully saving the NFL from the storm of controversy it endured ahead of the last Super Bowl, when Jay-Z and several other high-profile musical acts snubbed the NFL out of support for Kaepernick, as well as various audio initiatives linking artists whose brands are in part built around projecting an image of sociopolitical-mindfulness and players, who, according to the New York Times, might put together some playlists or podcasts. The revolution may not be televised, but it apparently will be conveniently streamed to your smart phone for you to listen to on your commute to work.
(Written during the hours leading up to KD's decision)
Time Out of Mind...the hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder...
The worst part of the sudden toppling of Golden State’s empire of jump-shooting joy which I’ve yet to see or hear mentioned anywhere: Not only are we highly unlikely to ever see the Hamptons Five on the court together at the same time – as teammates or opponents – but they weren’t able to be together in the same locker room one last time, to celebrate and commiserate all the life they went through together. Boogie compared the Finals to a horror movie – Get Out – who’s gonna die next? It was horripilating to behold. I’m glad Steph had the team over to his house after Game 6. It’s devastating to know Durant was not there. KD and Klay finished the year hospitalized, separated by three thousand miles of rolling waste. I’ll say this, presuming KD never plays for the Warriors again, and returns the season after next to the bougie Frisco Chase Center in some other colored jersey, he had better receive the most rousing ovation in recent NBA memory. If those rich social media parasites have the audacity to boo Kevin Durant like the lowlifes of OKC – though I’ll remain forever faithful to Steph, Klay, Dray and whoever else they put out there – I will never again refer to myself as a Warriors fan.
Already, far as the franchise goes, to hell with them. I’m a fan of the human beings who play the most artistic, democratic game in sports with skill-sets as eloquent as the John Coltrane Quintet, and always have... and never have I given two shits about the billionaire that owns said assets, nor the franchise brand. I type in an old blue & orange Thunder jersey, #35, in solidarity with the man, irrespective of his current employer, with a distinct undercurrent of healthy human disrespect for the alleged golden boys of NBA owners, hellbent as they were on abandoning Oakland.
Desperate to save face, convinced Durant was out the door, the Warriors got greedy, annihilating themselves on the altar of achievement, legacy, the illusion that taking only two of three titles with KD, three of five overall, represents some kind of failure.
They didn’t need to play KD in Game 5, let alone play him as if he’d never gotten injured in the first place. No time this century can I remember a player returning from an injury major enough to keep him out significant time, without any kind of minutes’ restriction. Never seen a player come back to the bench after a such a return, from any type of leg injury, and apply ice, as opposed to keeping said limb warmly loose on an exercise bike. I think of Steve Nash and Larry Bird nursing their bad backs in modified cobra poses on the floor. KD coming out of the game, literally icing his Achilles tendon, sitting there with whatever swelling required ice un-elevated; and then returning to rupture it in one fell swoop of fateful hoop. In my last article, I envisioned KD being allowed by the medical staff to wave a towel from the bench, and possibly getting enough minutes to make a few jumpers in Game 6, were the Warriors to make it that far.
We all know what happened. As it played out, the Dubs needed every one of the eleven points of instant, fluid, gorgeous jump-shooting offense KD provided to extend the series, and make way for one last game at Oracle. I realize shoulda/woulda/coulda statements uttered in hindsight are especially noxious.
I don’t see why I should even care /It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.
KD never should have been out there for Game 5, which the Warriors had no business winning. Game 6 never should have happened. Klay and Kevin should have entered their “contract” years the healthy 30 year-olds they were just a couple weeks ago. I know, it’s sports and guys get hurt. I understand they’ll still sign max deals. Mountains of money do not soothe the spirit and the spirit suffers when the body is unable to do what its soul loves most. Far as the Warriors’ culpability goes, I’ll let Iggy speak for me. The statements he’s made whilst promoting his basketball memoir shatter beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Golden State Warriors are any better than the other cutthroat subsidiary franchises that make up the larger corporation known as the National Basketball Association.
Whatever else one may say or think, these were the most poignantly poetic playoffs in league history. Kawhi, universally maligned and misunderstood a year ago – how dare he question the wisdom of the San Antonio Spurs and their allegedly unimpeachable reputation as a “first class” organization. How dare he listen to his own body over the voices of team doctors? His season ended two years ago atop Zaza’s felonious foot, only managing to enter nine games the next year, and then punctuating 47 years of Warriors basketball with a muscle-bound exclamation of redemption.
KD, killed in the press with every misinterpreted statement; accused of being too sensitive, when it was the whole hoops world that took his decision to come to the Bay so fucking personally. Who’s sensitive? Kawhi, mocked for his silence. The illusion that the NBA is set apart in its woke-ness from the rest of the toxic sea of patriarchal machismo the culture at large has been drowning in for so long – dead – the narrative demanded KD prove, once and for all, that he was A MAN, and not a cupcake – I would have played, any of us would have. It’s ok, he’ll be fine, even if he’s never again the same player who crushed the Clippers and was crashing the Rockets. He posted after Game 5 that his soul was hurting, but that his spirits were lifted, “like from a shot of tequila,” by the efforts of his teammates, their victory.
What I’ll never understand: the inability of fans to perceive their sports heroes and villains as human beings. The dehumanization is justified by a bevy of irrelevant facts – their financial wealth, privileged lifestyles, worldwide fame, as if any of it makes them immune from the pains and pangs which plague all human hearts. The same can be said for certain entertainers who reign the roost in other realms.
Kevin Durant, since he had the gall to join the Warriors, has been Bob Dylan, decried by his most ardent fans as Judas, the most loathed man in human history, because he chose to pick up an electric guitar. It couldn’t have gone another way, Durant’s Dostoyevskian saga... Thank you, Jeff Van Gundy, for saying what nobody wanted to hear. After Mark Jackson spit out some cliché about Durant’s heart, grit, determination, etc., which he (Durant) had allegedly demonstrated by getting himself on the floor for Game 5, Van Gundy demurred, objecting to the statement, accurately noting that its tacit inference was that had Durant not played, opposite conclusions w/r/t his character could have been justifiably drawn. In his monotone, deadpan, sedated, somewhat slovenly manner, Van Gundy said it all – one last time, JVG grabbed onto Zo Mourning’s mighty leg-limb, held on for as long as he could – but it was soulless still, this clinical bit of truth meekly offered to judge and jury, uttered by a public defender long since stripped of whatever charisma he may have once possessed. Van Gundy reminded me of the competent, overmatched actor Joshua Jackson playing competent, overmatched defense attorney for one of the (eventually) Exonerated Five from Ana DuVernay’s latest soul-shattering masterpiece of previously untold history, When They See Us, ill-equipped to say it as I would have loved to hear Kendrick Perkins proclaim it – KD had nothing to prove. He’d proved it all by his fifth or sixth year in Oklahoma. He’d proved it in absolute terms. Perhaps not quite LeBron for lack of physicality, perhaps not quite Bird in terms of coldblooded, unshakable confidence, but name me one other small forward in the history of motherfucking basketball better than Kevin Durant. A player with no demerits. A seven-footer with Steph Curry’s skill-set. Who plays the right way. Classic gym-rat, gym-giraffe is more apt. Nothing rat-like about majestic KD. Gym-gazelle. Kevin Durant, skinny Ganesha of the gym, who overcomes any and all defensive obstacles. Easy Money Sniper, master craftsman. Neither Judas nor Jesus. A man – one of the few worthy of the overused moniker – who has put in his ten thousand hours and more.
It should of course come as no surprise that an athlete like Durant’s manhood would continually come into question, that his narrative options would be limited to the classic false binary the good old USA assigns the Blackman: superman/subhuman, never just a dude. It’s why we can never seem to get enough O.J., ultimate archetype that Buffalo Bill surely be. Shall we overcome, one day? I doubt it. Not with bank-maniacs in charge, former-and-once-again-forevermore human chattel filling up the for-profit prisons, migrants and refugees warehoused like war criminals, the first black president presented with a Nobel Peace Prize born of wishful thinking, only to govern like an eloquent autocrat thereafter, who’d treat the residents of Flint no better than his war criminal predecessor treated the residents of the Lower Fifth Ward; not with Assange and Manning locked away forever and Rumsfeld retired contentedly upon Mount Misery and Kyrie Irving being treated like he’s certifiable as Hannibal Lecter for allegedly having asked Brad Stevens how he’d define “government.” God forbid Kyrie have civics on his mind at seven in the morning with the Orlando Magic coming up. Imagine had Kyrie asked Stevens what he thought of Juneteenth or the FBI assassination of Fred Hampton! The intonations of Jackie McMullan and Ramona Shelburne on ESPN as they cited sources which told them Kyrie just “didn’t like living in Boston,” as if Bill Russell had ever lived within those city limits his entire run with the Celtics. I know Boston ain’t as bad as it used to be – but that a Blackman would dare not enjoy living in the most notoriously racist city north of the Mason Dixon line – Kyrie Irving, who identifies and embraces his ethnic maternal lineage as a member of the Sioux Nation, wasn’t so fond of Beantown and they inflect their astonishment in various shades of thinly veiled dismay. How dare he!
It reminds of the year Dennis Rodman, still a Piston, infamously claimed Larry Bird was overrated due to his whiteness – and Isiah Thomas, unable to keep a straight face, laughingly claimed to agree with his teammate, refusing to throw Rodman under the bus already buried in wrecked boxcars and then (Isiah), forced to throw a press conference to renounce his non-disavowal of Rodman’s comments, uttered in the throes of competition – it was treated with similar, if not more vehement pushback than Trump’s conferring of goodness onto the Tiki Torch tyrants of Charlottesville. Rodman and Isiah forced by the league, the media, the public at large, Bostonians in particular, to beg forgiveness for having sinned against the hope of the Great White Hope. How dare they! Larry Bird, by the way, didn’t give a flying fuck and looked embarrassed as hell as he appeared along Isiah at the press conference to confirm as much. Good for Larry, for never having bought into one iota of the bullshit nonsense that swirled around his goofy curly blond locks.
Kawhi, KD, Kyrie... a triumvirate of K’s that harken back to the Harlem Renaissance, the Roaring 20s and that entire age of grift and graft, when Europe was doing its best prophetic impersonation of the Nazis all over Asia and Africa. Lebron’s infamous Decision kicked off an era of the New Negro within the NBA and the chief protagonists of this Harlem Hoops Renaissance looks like they’re headed that way, literarily and literally alike... I have a feeling Booker T. Washington, D.E.B. DuBois and Minister Malcolm would agree, KD and Kyrie should take their talents to Gotham to paint basketball masterpieces in the belly of the beast, Rome before it completely crumbles. Before KD’s Homeric odyssey went Iliad on him, I’d thought him joining Kyrie was the worst thing he could do. Now I believe, if there’s any truth to the rumors of their tight heart-connection, I think he should accompany his buddy to whichever NY depot they can agree upon, in order to have his Irving’s back as he heals his heel.
Do yourself a favor and listen to entirety of Iggy’s interview on The Breakfast Club. It’s not just that he tells us he had a fracture the Warriors’ brass insisted was merely a “bone bruise” during last season’s playoff run – he retells, as few have, the story behind Allen Iverson’s infamous Practice Rant, and generally conducts himself like the James Baldwin of the NBA players association, calmly, eloquently defending the simple sentiment stated on signs of olden times, I AM A MAN, expressed in modern times as Black Lives Matter. Iggy contextualizes Iverson’s practice rant – Iverson’s best friend from childhood had just died, as the press knew, and Iverson, distraught, forced to answer redundant questions about demerits accumulated in practice. The lines always omitted from every clip, “My best friend just DIED, and y’all talkin’ ‘bout practice?!?!” What Iverson was really saying, “Ain’t I a man? Don’t y’all see me as human?” This season, one of Durant’s adopted brothers, a teammate on his high school team, Cliff Dixon, was killed during a birthday celebration. Nobody gave a fuck. Nipsey Hussle was also murdered and the media made it seem it was okay, because Westbrook compiled that 20-20-20 triple-double. Blaze Foley sure was right, it’s a cold, cold world. Having boatloads in the bank don’t cease the pain of being a man. But last year, after the death of Greg Popovich’s wife, watch Durant’s reaction. Last year, one of David West’s best friends, former NBA player Rasual Butler, died. The fans and media lose their minds every time a player commits the slightest faux-pas on social media – we will never hear the end of KD’s burner accounts, while Cliff Dixon goes forevermore unmentioned.
But the fanatics are just that. Media members fan the flames of dehumanization. What if Kyle Lowery entered Mark Stevens’ place of business, or saw him on the street, and shoved the heel of his hand into the billionaire’s shoulder? What if Kawhi had reportedly done so to a member of the Spurs’ medical staff? And he may well have had good reason! What’d happen? They’d be arrested for assault. No matter how innocuous such hypothetical blows may have been, they’d get the book thrown at them. What happens to Stevens? He has to miss a few games; issued a fine that for him, is equivalent to less than twenty bucks to folks like you and me. Imagine Westbrook had laid hands on that Utah fan who famously taunted him? That fan was banned for life, for words. Stevens put hands on the Raptors all-star point guard... for absolutely no reason other than some infantile sense of macho fandom infused with Trump era narcissism. Lowery, who’d later lead the quelling of Canadian jeers aimed at waylaid KD, handled the incident with Selma-like grace. He’d have been within his rights to have gone full-bore Huey Newton. Stevens should be made to stand at half-court before tipoff before the first regular season game at the Devil Chase Center, and receive a decleeting bitch-slap delivered by Draymond. Stevens should thereafter be tarred and feathered, dragged through West Oakland, dipped in cannabinoid oil, rolled into a giant blunt to be smoked by Nick Young, shirtless, in Jack London Square, theretofore renamed Bobby Seal Square... Seriously, by NBA ordinance and California State Law, Stevens is a criminal – if not only for his cowardly shove, but likely apropos application of Puzo’s classic godfatherly phrase: behind every great fortune there is a crime.
Cue Camper Van Beethoven... I bet Stevens wouldn’t shove the songwriter David Lowery, were he to stumble into the crowd at the Warfield or Fillmore.
America’s ship of state is a shameful shambles from bow to stern, NBA Inc. included – but the stars, superstars, and role-playing rank and file proletariat – have held onto their dignity. From Lowery, Gasol, et al, hushing the Raptor fans’ ravenous jeers of martyred KD, to Lowery’s restraint in the face of Stevens’ unprovoked aggression, to Steph and Iggy’s accompaniment of #35 off the court in his final appearance in Warriors’ royal and yellow, to Steph’s ineradicable equanimity, to Iggy’s resolute composure and staunch-having-of-his-teammates’-backs, unwavering honesty and eloquence, to KD’s self-effacing confession of soul-pain, to Boogie’s harsh “fuck ‘em, they’re trash,” directed at uncountable idiots all too eager to detract from every success, and revel in every calamity to befall the great KD, to Kawhi and KD’s mutual refusals to be anyone other than themselves, the NBA players, have never looked better.
And, aside from Kerr’s recklessness with Durant’s minutes, enough to once and for all eliminate him from previous considerations of sainthood, I’ve never witnessed a more exquisitely coached Finals. Nick Nurse, bless his spectacles, with the balls to run a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two. Kerr going zone, echoes of bellows from my own high school coach, recently gone to the great hardwood beyond, and his (Tom Blackwood’s) unhealthy attachment to the very same two-three matchup zone Arizona coach Lute Olson ran when Steve Kerr was a player there – I’m sure Andre Iguodala learned it much the same way Kerr and I did. A real father-son, Cat Stevens - Ivan Turgenev vibe pervaded. There was the moment Klay told his dad he heard no pop (probably lying); Siakam playing for his deceased dad; aforementioned Lute Olson and the fatherly role he undoubtedly played in young Steve Kerr’s life (Kerr’s own father dying his freshman year in at U of A, the ASU fans serenading him with sinister chants of “YOUR DAD’S DEAD” – Tom Blackwood, Lute Olson and my own father all looking on concernedly from on high); VanVleet unable to miss a shot upon the birth of his son, Fred VanVleet Jr.; and of course, the omnipotence of NBA First Father Dell Curry. Kawhi’s rejection of Coach Pop as a father figure and turning to Uncle Dennis; KD’s lack of an Uncle Dennis, or some analogous cornerman who might have saved him from himself, who might have been able to talk him out of risking all to show the whole goddamn world once and for all, that he’s a man and not some bonne bouche served up at children’s birthday parties.
It ain’t just me, basketball people tend toward oddly existentially oriented incarnations within the jock archetype. Before Game 6, those with any hearts and minds whatsoever, still in shock over Durant’s downfall and Bob Myers melodramatic performance – the saddest and strangest NBA presser since Magic announced his retirement – Isiah Thomas was on TV quoting Kant w/r/t age-old questions of means and ends.
It’s taken me a full two weeks to recover, not from the loss, about which I couldn’t give a fart, but from watching two of the game’s most beautiful craftsmen go down with career-altering injuries. And nobody but their families, teammates and opponents seeming to care. That’s my take-away. NBA players are not perceived by the media circus, fanbases, or team owners as actual human personages. No, it’s not as bad as the dehumanization of refugees and migrants, or of those locked forever away in Guantanamo Bay, or the Iranians suffering under sanctions and the horror of knowing they’ve long been scheduled to get bombed to hell. No, the dehumanization of professional athletes does not compare to what’s been done to Chelsea Manning or Julian Assange, but the same dynamics are at play. The humanity of Kevin Durant, Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala – despite all eyes on their injured assets and what effects those defects may have on eventual outcomes – went absolutely unseen.
The ultimate paradox dating back to antebellum days – African Americans placed front and center upon the auction block, sports field, boxing ring, television screen – their humanity doomed to remain unseen. Ralph Ellison said it all back in 1952. When Myers got up there with unwetted tears and told the world that Durant was misunderstood, and a good person, it made me think of DuBois’ famous passage from Souls of Black Folk, penned in 116 years earlier:
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
There’s always been an unfair two-ness differentiating Durant from his Golden State teammates. Bob Myers couldn’t help himself from ribbing KD about it at last year’s parade, which I admittedly cannot forgive, and which I believe was the formal beginning to the end of whatever good karma the organization surely inherited via the good deeds of Al Attles, Manute Bol, Adonal Foyle, and to be fair, Bob Myers himself.
The ethics of competition is tricky. At lower levels, winning at all costs is mostly frowned upon. At the heights of a multibillion dollar industry, it’s expected. We don’t exactly expect Steve Kerr to treat Kevin Durant as if he were one of our sons on the high school team; but part of the reason we love Kerr is because he and the Warriors have promoted the impression that he does in fact care about his players as people, not pawns in a power struggle to maintain a stranglehold over NBA supremacy.
Like all Warrior faithful born before the 90s, I was satisfied with the Warriors being a playoff team, and an extremely entertaining one at that. Though their achievements pale in comparison, I have no less love for the Sleepy Floyd, RUN TMC or We Believe teams than I do for the Splash Brothers/ Hamptons Five lineups that’ve brought home so many banners. The dynasty is dead; and I’m happier for it. Winning a championship should be an accomplishment laced with unadulterated joyousness, not simply the sense of relief associated with having met expectations.
I hope Steph and Klay and Dray can win another title before they retire. I hope KD regains as much of his health as humanly possible and is able to win again, wherever he goes – but it doesn’t matter. The ethos and pathos of Pat Riley and Michael Jordan, for whom losing is misery and winning is mere relief, was never healthy and it’s high time it’s abandoned.
To the Warriors of the future and athletes the world over, I say: Be on Time; Try Your Best... and fuck the rest.
Far as KD’s future goes, if I were his Uncle Dennis, the advice he’d get from me: team up with Kyrie, Bed-Stuy, Do or Die. Selah.
I have heard the letters C T and E so many fucking times, the question becomes: When I am struggling in the “real world,” is it because I am conditioned for a different reality? Or because I actually have brain damage? Nobody knows, because frustration can read as dementia. It’s the world that drives us mad, not football! It’s the way people communicate: Vague. Non-committal. Via text. Email. Waiting for a response. Fake smiles and faker laughs. Superlatives and exclamation points and the making of plans that never come to fruition. Sorry for the delayed response, things are crazy over here. “Really?” I want to say. “How crazy?” Every conversation is a game of double-dutch and I cant seem to time it up.
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.
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.
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.
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!
By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
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 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.
By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
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.
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. 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. 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). 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, 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.
 Had UGA basketball won one more SEC game under Fox, its conference record would’ve been literally mediocre at 0.5000 (78-78).
 …who all seem to wear blue: UNC, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky.
 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.
By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
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)
By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
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.)
By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
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.
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.
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…
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…
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
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
Rare and cherished Cheshire smiles
Your voice bellowing throughout greater Martinez
“JESUS CHRIST, JOSH TRIBE WILL YA STOP FREAKIN’ POUTING — GO RUN LIBERTY!”
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
“PUT IN KJ!”
“IT’S TIME FOR THE PRESS”
“FORGET TWENTY, WE GOTTA GO MAN!!!!”
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 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
*By one of the proud, the many, worst point guards in Miramonte history