Problems with the Truth

Posted in The sporting life on March 25th, 2002 by bill
I don’t enjoy restating the obvious, but recent events have compelled me to do so. First, though, let’s take a little quiz. 1. You are an all-star baseball player who likes to ride motorcycles, despite the fact that you are contractually forbidden to do so. One day, while popping a wheelie, you fall off your bike and break your wrist. Do you: a. Admit what happened and take responsibility for your actions b. Make up a story about falling off your truck while washing it c. Pretend not to be injured and play the rest of the season with one hand 2. You are a retired basketball player who enjoys playing with guns, despite the fact that you once nearly beheaded a fellow athlete with an errant blast. One day, while twirling your shotgun in the air during a party at your home, you accidentally shoot and kill the chauffeur who brought one of your guests. Do you: a. Admit what happened and take responsibility for your actions b. Put the gun in the chauffeur’s hand and claim that he shot himself c. Blame it on a one-armed, bushy-haired stranger 3. You are a president of the United States who has a weakness for the ladies, despite the fact that it’s gotten you into trouble over and over again. One day, while you are going about your business, your affair with a young intern is discovered and aired in the national press. Do you: a. Admit what happened and take responsibility for your actions b. Go on national TV and stonewall c. Resign from office, retire from public life, and spend the rest of your days wandering shirtless on the beach with a metal detector, muttering about how you were screwed. Did you answer “a” to any of these questions? If so, congratulations. You’re one up on the people who these things really happened to—San Francisco Giant Jeff Kent, former New Jersey Net Jayson Williams, and then-President of the United States Bill Clinton, respectively. All three men chose “b,” and it did not work out too well for them. The pain in Kent’s wrist is as nothing to his embarrassment. Sportswriters across the land have ridiculed him as both a clutzy motorcyclist and an ineffective liar. However, though he has made things more difficult for himself by fibbing, Kent is unlikely to suffer long-term repercussions from his actions. While it is true that his contract, like most baseball players’, contains a clause enjoining him from participating in dangerous leisure activities, in practice these clauses are generally winked at by the teams. Since he is a key player and a former MVP, Kent will likely receive no more than a (metaphorical) slap on the wrist. Williams is in far more serious jeopardy. Though he would have been charged with manslaughter in any case, his clumsy attempts at a coverup have badly exacerbated the situation. By trying to hide what happened, he has not only caused additonal charges to be brought against him, but damaged his credibility with potential jurors. And as for Clinton, I know this is old news, but geez. If he’d just had the guts to stand up and say “I did have sexual relations with that woman,” the whole thing would have blown over fairly quickly and we’d all have been spared years of annoying Republican moralizing. Do you see the pattern emerging here? Everyody makes mistakes, but most mistakes can be fixed and/or forgiven if you just tell the truth about them. Yes, the truth hurts—but in most cases, not as much as the alternative.

There’s a Bat in the House

Posted in Golden (State) Years on March 11th, 2002 by bill
One month ago in this space, I vowed not to write about the Warriors again until they won three games in a row. I am now going to break that promise, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I just can’t help myself. I’ve been trying to wean myself off the soap opera that is the Golden State Warriors for several years now, but every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in. Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten into numerous discussions about whether or not the Warriors are cursed. I strongly believe that they are, and the evidence in favor of this belief continues to mount. Consider the events in Warriorland over just the past few weeks: The Marc Jackson Fiasco: This little drama actually began in the offseason when the Warriors exercised their option to keep Jackson, who had received a six-year, $24.375 million offer from the Houston Rockets, despite the fact that they didn’t really want him. Jackson, the reasoning went, was as asset whom the W’s would not let walk away for nothing. And so Jackson languished on the bench in the NBA equivalent of cryogenic stasis, waiting for 90 days to pass so the Warriors could trade him. The 90 days came and went, and still Jackson sat, looking spiffy but disgruntled in his unsoiled electric blue sweats. With the trade deadline approaching, the Warriors were said to be fielding several offers for Jackson. And on the last possible day, they did indeed deal Jackson to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here’s what they got: little-used, 35-year-old center Dean Garrett and a second-round draft pick in 2007. That’s what I said, 2007. In the interest of fairness, I must point out that Garrett’s contract will expire at the end of the year, which may have salary-cap advantages that my tiny monkey brain cannot grasp. But I don’t care. This whole thing was a catastrophe from the beginning, yet another example of inevitable disaster that befalls everything the Warriors undertake. And to top it all off, a few days later papers around the country carried this quote from Minnesota’s Wally Szczerbiak: “[Jackson is] a really big guy who plays the game like it’s supposed to be played…He’s not built for a bunch of clowns like they have in Golden State.” The Madness of Antawn Jamison: Just last year, it appeared that forward Antawn Jamison was on his way to becoming the player the Warriors had expected him to be when they gave up Vince Carter to get him. He averaged 24.9 points per game and displayed a jump-shooting prowess that was as unexpected as it was welcome. This season, Jamison has regressed noticeably. He’s still putting up almost 20 points a game, but his jump shot has deserted him. The weird part is that Jamison refuses to admit that this has happened. He goes on nonchalantly launching up 22-footers when he would be much better served by sticking with his bread and butter, which is putbacks and floaters from the painted area around the basket. In a recent game against Houston, Jamison at one point was 7-for-19 from the floor: 7-for-7 from the paint, and 0-for-12 from everywhere else. And yet he went on firing away from deep! Excuse my italics, but it was very frustrating! I shouted at the screen, “What is wrong with you?”, but really I knew the answer: The curse has driven him insane in the membrane. The Plague of Bats: And in what may be the eeriest Warriors-related development ever, the team is being shadowed by bats. In two consecutive road games, one in San Antonio and one in Houston, bats made their way into the arenas where the Warriors were playing. That cinches it, don’t you think? The curse is real—ignore it at your peril.