Warriors champion D-Lee calls it a career after 12 NBA seasons

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

David Lee announced his presence in the basketball world back in 2001 at the McDonald’s High School All-American Game Dunk Contest. Pitted up against the highest flyers from around the nation, Lee shocked the ESPN audience when he whipped out a pale, shaggy haired version of J.R. Rider’s “East Bay Funk Dunk” as well as a shirtless reverse to win the contest.

By the end of his 12-year NBA career, Lee was thought of more as an unselfish, below the rim role player who helped bring teams together and maximize the talent they were given. But whichever phase of Lee’s career you tuned in for, he was always a joy to watch play the game of basketball.

The All-Everything high school prospect from Missouri would ride his McDonald’s Dunk fame into Gainesville where he cut out a stellar career playing for Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators. The Knicks liked what they saw in Lee enough to grab him in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft, and for the next five years, Lee would grind out games inside Madison Square Garden for a variety of bad New York teams. By his fifth and final year in Gotham City, Lee earned his first All-Star Game selection while cementing his name in Garden lore as a “great Knick” who “played the game the right way, night in and night out.”

By the end of that fifth season with the Knicks, Lee was traded to Oakland in 2010 to play for coach Keith Smart and the Warriors. In his five seasons with the Dubs, Lee not only served as a tremendous leader but also more or less averaged a triple double with 16.7 points and 9.6 rebounds a game while roaming the frontcourt inside Oracle.

In 2013 with Mark Jackson now steering the Dubs’ ship, Lee was named an All-Star for a second time, while helping the Warriors get back to the playoffs for the first time since the "We Believe" boys back in 2007.

Lee’s career arc reached it’s zenith when the veteran was able to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in 2015. Much of Lee’s youthful explosiveness was a thing of the past by now, and he had the injuries to show for it, but that didn’t stop Lee from mentoring younger stars in the making like Draymond Green as the Warriors finally brought a championship back to Oakland.  

With an elusive championship now under his belt, Lee bounced around the NBA for two more seasons, making stops in Boston, Dallas and finally San Antonio before leaving the hardwood for good. Lee now will turn his attention to his recent fiancée Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish tennis star who has enjoyed extensive time as the top ranked female in the world.

Cheers to D-Lee.

(Video) JaVale McGee's Parking Lot Chronicles

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

For the last few weeks, Dubs big man JaVale McGee has been holding court in the coliseum parking lot, talking to some of the most recognizable faces in the Bay Area. The show is called "JaVale McGee's Parking Lot Chronicles" and the first three episodes are below for your viewing pleasure. Along the way, you'll learn more about Mistah F.A.B.'s Dope Era clothing line, E-40's hustle, Klay Thompson's "China Klay" phase, Swaggy P's latest styles, and what Andre Iguodala is currently reading on road trips. Suffice it to say, JaVale is successfully out of Shaq's doghouse at this point. 

Cal beaten soundly by UC Riverside on opening night in Berkeley

Marcus Lee had just 8 points in his debut as a Cal Bear. (photo courtesy of calbears.com)

Marcus Lee had just 8 points in his debut as a Cal Bear. (photo courtesy of calbears.com)

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

The Wyking Jones era of Cal basketball kicked off late Friday night in Berkeley, with the Bears turning in a dismal effort resulting in a 74-66 loss to the UC Riverside Highlanders. A game that was originally booked on the schedule as a gimmie win for the Bears turned into a disheartening loss at that hands of team picked in the preseason to finish toward the bottom of the Big West Conference. Riverside, who went 8-21 last season, were flat-out better than Cal for all 40 minutes as they showed little problem penetrating the Bears' zone defense or breaking through their trapping press. Riverside was up 17-3 to start the game and more or less cruised the rest of the way. 

With a new head coach and a staggering nine players new to their roster, Cal fans certainly expected a rebuilding year. But with 6'11" senior Marcus Lee moving back home to the Bay Area from his Final Four days in Kentucky and Kingsley Okoroh manning the middle, it made sense to believe Cal could hold its own in the Pac-12 this year. However, Friday night left Cal fans rethinking the idea of a competitive season altogehter. 

The Bears finished sixth in the Pac-12 a year ago, behind home-grown Bay Area draft picks in Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird, along with shifty point guard Charlie Moore who has since left for greener pastures in Kansas. Cal's hot young coach in Cuonzo Martin also bolted for the Big-12, landing a larger contract at Missouri with half the cost of living, effectively leaving the cupboard as bare as it's been in recent memory in Berkeley. 

It certainly felt that way at the home opener inside Haas Pavilion as more than half the gym was left empty throughout the ugly loss. Bear fans that showed up were let down by Lee's debut in the blue and gold, as he failed to score a point in the first half. Lee, who played 100 games for John Calipari at Kentucky, looked overly reliant on his teammates to create consistent scoring opportunities for himself. To his credit, Lee did grab 10 rebounds, but that might have been his only bright spot as he ended with just eight points while shooting just 40% from the charity stripe. Returning starter Okoroh fared even worse against Riverside's defense, tallying just five points on the evening while going 3of7 at the line.    

The only bright spot on the night came from junior wing Don Coleman, who took the offense load upon himself, pouring in a career high 32 points in the losing effort. Even so, Coleman left much to be desired when you consider he attempted 28 shots and missed eight free throws on the night. His inefficient output still leaves fans wondering, who will consistently score the basketball for the Bears this year? It's not an easy question to answer, even after Coleman's career high night from the field. 

This time last year in Berkeley, the Bears were riding a home winning streak that would eventually reach 27 straight games. They had a proven head coach who had won at other schools. They had NBA prospects and solid shooters scattered up and down their lineup. Suddenly, those days are over and left to be rebuilt, hopefully sooner than later. By Sunday, Cal hopes to get their act together to avoid a loss to Cal Poly on Sunday at 1pm in Berkeley. A home sweep at the hands of two mediocre Big West schools would be hard for the most casual of Cal fans to swallow.  

Monday Night Football arrives in Moraga as Campo and Miramonte renew their rivalry on the gridiron

Campo senior John Torchio has traded in his wide receiver gloves to lead the Cougars as their QB. (Photo by Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

Campo senior John Torchio has traded in his wide receiver gloves to lead the Cougars as their QB. (Photo by Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

Never on record have we seen a Monday Night Football matchup between crosstown rivals Campolindo and Miramonte, but due to the devastating fires in the North Bay last week, we have found ourselves with the rare treat of high school football to kick off our week. With skies deemed too smokey on Friday by league officials, the showdown has been pushed under the bright lights of Monday night in Moraga at 6pm.  

For the past six years of this storied rivalry, Campolindo has more or less been beating up on the Matadors as the Cougars have elevated their program to new heights with two state championships this decade. But despite their recent struggles, Miramonte comes into tonight with an impressive 5-1 record, with their only blemish coming to East Bay power Clayton Valley on the road last week. The Mats shouldn't be at all intimidated on Monday as they are led by senior quarterback Xavier Clark and senior running back Peter Stehr, both of which have enough athleticism to break off a touchdown anytime they touch the ball. 

Campo, meanwhile, enters the contest confident they can take care of the Matadors for the seventh year in a row as they will be playing in front of their fabled "Red C" student section inside Bob Wilson Stadium. The Cougars have been tested early this year with losses to Marin Catholic and Rancho Cotate, but have since righted their ship behind the guidance of Kevin Macy. The signal caller for Campo this year is John Torchio, son of former Cal QB and Section925.com football insider J Torchio. The senior is relatively inexperienced at quarterback as last year he played wide receiver, but he has proven to be a dual threat who can both air out the long ball and tuck and run for extra yards at the drop of a hat.

Now with the Bay Area smoke cleared and the Monday night lights queued up, is it finally time for the Cougars let down their guard and lose to Miramonte? Perhaps the Mats will bring a slough of trick plays to the table after the extra few days of prep? Or will Campo again prove their dominance? Seciton925's staffers have offered up their fearless picks below...   

Connor Buestad's pick: Miramonte 38 - Campolindo 37

Josh Hunsucker's pick: Miramonte 35 - Campolindo 33

Tripper Ortman's pick: Campolindo 38 - Miramonte 13

Section925 previews baseball’s compelling final four

Bryce Harper went down swinging to send the Cubs to the NLCS on Thursday (photo by Win McNamee)

Bryce Harper went down swinging to send the Cubs to the NLCS on Thursday (photo by Win McNamee)

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

Cast off into the shadows of football and basketball years ago on the American sports popularity pecking order, baseball is enjoying a renaissance of sorts here in 2017. With the black eye of the Steroid Era now a distant memory, Major League League baseball is entering their final four playoff round with a full head of steam, buoyed by compelling storylines and vibrant personalities whichever way you look. Sure, the balls might be juiced and replay abuse might be at a boiling point, but on the aggregate the game is increasingly healthy and trending upward.

Meanwhile, the world of tackle football appears to be tearing apart at the seams as the concussion crisis grows grimmer by the week. Perhaps worse, our president has lashed out on the game’s best players calling them “sons of bitches” during a sickening rally in Alabama, while NFL owners react with whatever PR stunt they imagine will trick the public into thinking they truly care about their player’s well-being. What's more, cites like Oakland are losing their teams to new states with flashy new stadiums while fans continue to routinely brawl in the stands.  

On the hardwood, college basketball’s underground economy was finally exposed in earnest with the help of an FBI investigation of epic proportions. Four assistant coaches from top programs around the nation were arrested while “Slick” Rick Pitino finally was pinned down, fired and spit out the back door in Louisville. What’s left is a exposed sport that is left to pick up the pieces, while still bracing for other shoes to drop.

Beside Bruce Maxwell’s brave display in Oakland as the first MLB player to kneel for the anthem, baseball has watched quietly as these political and financial storms have torn through the sports around them, instead letting their time-honored game speak for itself. And with baseball, which has so much built in drama when it comes down to short series and win-or-go-home elimination games, the sport always seems to shine once again when October rolls around. This year has been no different. A preview of the last four teams standing follows...  

Can Didi Gregorius lead New York back to the World Series? (photo by Jason Miller) 

Can Didi Gregorius lead New York back to the World Series? (photo by Jason Miller) 

Let’s start with the American League bracket: the upstart New York Yankees fresh off an upset of Cleveland pitted up against the Houston Astros, a team playing for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

When the Yankees quickly went down 0-2 in the ALDS versus Cleveland, no one in their right mind gave them any chance of coming back against the best team in the AL, especially with Aaron Judge swinging a wet newspaper for all five games. But somehow, the Bronx Bombers did just that, reeling off three wins against a team that won 22-games in a row this year.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius, with his two dramatic homers in the decisive Game 5, is slowly helping New York fans forget about the hole Derek Jeter left, Todd Frazier is fully embracing his new role as the city’s beloved third baseman, Brett Gardner continues to wear out opposing pitchers and Aroldis Chapman is still throwing over 100 miles per hour in the 9th. If Fresno State product Aaron Judge can shake off the first six games of the playoffs (he’s hitting .050 so far) and get back to his regular season form that included 52 homers, the Yankees could contend for their 28th World Series title later this month. Vallejo’s CC Sabathia will take the ball in Game 3, while ex-Athletic Sonny Gray will go in Game 4.

Five foot, six inch Jose Altuve is the best hitter on the planet. (Photo by Bob Levey)

Five foot, six inch Jose Altuve is the best hitter on the planet. (Photo by Bob Levey)

Countering the Yankees will be a team on a mission to win for its city that was decimated by Hurricane Harvey at the end of the summer. Owners of the best record in the AL, the Astros are loaded on the mound and around the diamond, epically after acquiring hired gun Justin Verlander, a proven winner in October.

Lefty Dallas Keuchel will pitch Game 1 with a lineup behind him that Yankee Masahiro Tanaka might have nightmares about. Second baseman Jose Altuve, who figures to win the MVP award, is coming off a season in which he hit .346, the best in baseball. So far in the playoffs, the diminutive infielder has slugged three homers in one game and holds a .533 batting average after his series against Boston, a team with above average pitching. Houston’s lineup doesn’t just stop there, mind you. George Springer is hitting .412 in the playoffs and Josh Reddick, owner of the best clubhouse celebration in baseball, finished fifth in the AL in batting this year at .314. Add 40-year-old Carlos Beltran’s veteran bat, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman and you have yourself a murderer’s row for New York to contend with.

Section925’s pick: Astros in 7


Chicago slid past Washington by a matter of inches in Game 5 of the NLDS. (Photo by Rob Carr)

Chicago slid past Washington by a matter of inches in Game 5 of the NLDS. (Photo by Rob Carr)

Over in the National League we have the defending champion (still doesn't quite roll off the tongue) Chicago Cubs, who are somehow still standing after 12-round slugfest with the Washington Nationals. At the end of the day, the law of Dusty Baker prevailed and his team folded for the 10th straight time in postseason closeout games.

Since the Northsiders buried their long list of curses with last year’s title run, the team seems to now have a degree of luck and mojo on their side these days. The latest example was last night’s pickoff at first base in which instant replay reared its ugly head and helped the Cubbies climb out of jam. They needed all the luck they could get, void of any breakout performances in the NLDS. Even still, the Cubs were able to grind past the Nats into the round of four behind the clutch long relief of Wade Davis.

Going into the NLCS the Cubs still have no idea how their rotation sets up, seeing as how they used up every last arm to survive the division series. But as evidenced by Jon Lester’s drunken postgame rant, the Cubbies aren’t worried about tomorrow, so long as they won today. Veteran pitching abounds throughout Chicago’s rotation and we all know how clutch their starting nine are from last year. Overall, the Cubs will be hard to kill.

Justin "Red" Turner has been a hitting machine all year long in Los Angeles. (Photo by Harry How)

Justin "Red" Turner has been a hitting machine all year long in Los Angeles. (Photo by Harry How)

Owners of the best record in baseball, the L.A. Dodgers are looking to get back into the Fall Classic for the first time since 1988 and after sweeping the Diamondbacks, there’s no reason to believe they can’t do just that with a dynamic offense and a pitching staff led by Clayton Kershaw.

Unlike the Cubs, L.A.’s rotation is set and ready with Kershaw going Game 1, followed by Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood, while Kenly Jansen does the closing. And on the offensive side of the ball, the Dodgers are riding a red hot Yasiel Puig (.455 in the playoffs) and Justin Turner (.462 in playoffs; .322 in regular season). Sprinkle in young guns Cody Bellinger who hit 39 homers as a 22-year-old this season along with smooth shortstop Corey Seager ranging up the middle and you have a force to be reckoned with down in Southern California.

As mentioned, killing the care-free Cubbies is a task as tough as they come. But ultimately, their fresh pitching should prevail in the end.

Section925’s pick: Dodgers in 7

Books - Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig

“I am America,” Muhammad Ali once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

He was born Cassius Clay in racially segregated Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a sign painter and a housekeeper. He went on to become a heavyweight boxer with a dazzling mix of power and speed, a warrior for racial pride, a comedian, a preacher, a poet, a draft resister, an actor, and a lover. Millions hated him when he changed his religion, changed his name, and refused to fight in the Vietnam War. He fought his way back, winning hearts, but at great cost. Like so many boxers, he stayed too long.

Jonathan Eig’s Ali reveals Ali in the complexity he deserves, shedding important new light on his politics, religion, personal life, and neurological condition. Ali is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.

Buy the book here.