It Is Happening Again

Posted in Golden (State) Years on November 6th, 2015 by bill

'Shoot it again, Steph.'

Exactly one year ago, I was writing a breathless encomium to the undefeated Golden State Warriors, who were coming off a big win against the detested LA Clippers. Well…(cue the giant)…it is happening again.

If anything, this year’s Dubs have been better than last year’s. The Clips game was their first close contest; before that their average margin of victory had been 25 points, including a 50-point obliteration of the once-feared Memphis Grizzlies. Steph Curry has somehow found a way to take his already stratospheric game up to yet another level, dismembering defenses with an ease that borders on contempt. And all this has been happening without coach Steve Kerr, who is still sidelined by complications from offseason back surgery. Interim coach Luke Walton is 5-0, and with no disrespect to young Mr. Walton, I’m pretty sure that I would also be undefeated if they’d given me the job.

Once again I must remind myself that we’re only five games into the season. It’s a long hard road and so on and so forth. All the more reason to take a moment to savor the sweetness of being a fan of a team that is playing intergalactic basketball right now. Can they possibly keep it up all season? Well, consider that Andrew Bogut hasn’t played a single minute…that Klay Thompson’s shot has been MIA so far…and that Harrison Barnes has been inconsistent. In other words, the Warriors could be better. I wouldn’t bet against them.

Here We Go Again

Posted in Golden (State) Years on October 27th, 2015 by bill

Steph Curry nails a shot while chewing his mouthguard – in the NBA 2K16 video game. Soon he will be doing it again in real life.

So today Our Golden State Warriors begin their defense of the NBA Championship. It still feels weird to say that. Maybe it’ll finally sink in for real tonight when they hand out the rings and raise the banner into the rafters.

The Dubs will be kicking off the season without Steve Kerr, who is still out with complications from offseason back surgery. I assume, though, that he will be there to get his ring – as will Alvin Gentry, last year’s top assistant, who is now the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

And if the Pelicans are in town, that means Anthony Davis, a/k/a The Brow, consensus future MVP, will be there too. Davis and the Pels will have something to prove after being swept in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and the Warriors will want to respond. But we all kind of like The Brow, and we like Gentry, so this will not be a grudge match. Those will come soon enough when the W’s play the Rockets (10/30), the Grizzlies (11/2), and – yes, Lord, let it be so – the Clippers on Wednesday 11/4.

The Clippers did a lot of yapping this summer, and are feeling all swoll about themselves after stealing DeAndre Jordan back from Dallas and adding a couple of decent bench players. But to me they’re still basically the same bunch of floptastic crybabies that we smacked down repeatedly last year, and I look forward to that matchup with great relish.

So let’s go, let’s go…how long till tipoff?

Back Again for the First Time

Posted in Golden (State) Years on September 25th, 2015 by bill

Time to wake up, Steph.

I’m told that this has been the shortest offseason in Warriors history, and I believe it, since the last time they went to the Finals was 1975, and the season was a lot shorter then. But it has seemed awfully long to me, partly because I’ve been extraordinarily bored at work lately. The various vacations were a nice distraction while they lasted, but now it’s officially fall, with Thanksgiving just a tiny blip on the horizon. Sigh.

Thankfully, the NBA circus starts up again on Monday with the media day that marks the beginning of training camp. I’ve written not a word about the Warriors since the end of the Finals, and what really has there been to write about? After the fulfillment of a long-held dream, there inevitably comes a bit of a letdown, and this offseason has been one long victory lap with little in the way of news. Draymond Green signed a big new contract, as we knew he would. David Lee was shipped out to Boston and, through a roundabout series of transactions, replaced with Jason Thompson, who will play a similar role for much less money. Steph Curry continued his charm offensive on Planet Earth with a trip to Asia and an appearance on the new Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It’s all been fun, and well-earned, and frankly a little dull. I look forward to the start of the new season, the first that My Golden State Warriors will enter as defending champions. They will face opposition from the reloaded San Antonio Spurs, the formidable Cleveland Cavaliers, the rested and rejuvenated OKC Thunder, and the always-annoying Los Angeles Clippers, among others. It will be a challenge, but I think they’re ready for it. I know I am. Let’s play ball.

It Gets Late Early Out Here

Posted in The sporting life on September 23rd, 2015 by bill

The creators of Yogi Bear claimed he was not based on Yogi Berra. They were full of shit.

We lost one of the greats yesterday: Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, who shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 90.

It’s a little shocking to me that Yogi was only 90. He seems to have belonged to a prehistoric era of baseball, a contemporary of ancient Olympians like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. It’s strange that he survived into today’s world, with its Twitter feeds, advanced metrics, and multi-multi-million-dollar contracts.

Yogi was a great baseball player and manager, appearing in 21 World Series, but an even greater philosopher. I’ve already written about him once, and there are plenty of good obituaries and collections of Yogi-isms out there today, so no need to belabor the point. But it was Yogi who taught us that “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and this gives me a wedge to bring up once again the Greatest Comeback in the History of Wiffle Ball, where we went down 16-0 in the top of the 1st, then battled back to win when yours truly crossed the plate for the 33rd run with two outs in the bottom of the 5th.

I’d like to retroactively dedicate that victory to Yogi Berra, a truly one-of-a-kind human being, a man who lived a long and eventful life and leaves a legacy that shan’t be forgotten. Let’s observe a moment of silence, then later take a two-hour nap from one to four.

So long, Moses

Posted in The sporting life on September 14th, 2015 by bill

Don't fuck with the Moses.

In an odd coincidence of timing, Moses Malone passed away this weekend, just a couple weeks after Darryl Dawkins, the man who he replaced on the Philadelphia 76ers. Darryl could never get the Sixers to the Promised Land; Moses did it his first year there, leading the team to a championship and finally getting Dr. J his long-overdue ring.

Unlike the colorful Chocolate Thunder, Moses was all business on the court. He played with a perpetual scowl, and always looked like someone you definitely did not want to mess with. But he seems to have been a good guy off the court; Charles Barkley, for one, credits Moses with helping him learn how to be a professional.

Moses is generally considered the best offensive rebounder ever to play; he would often get two, three, or four on a given possession, and eventually put the ball in the basket. He was sometimes accused of padding his stats by missing on purpose, but it’s hard to say how true that was. What we do know for sure is that he was relentless on the boards. His philosophy of rebounding? “I goes to the rack.”

Moses was a man of few words, but managed to express a lot nonetheless. Now he is off to the Great All-Star Team in the Sky, allowing Darryl Dawkins to slide over to power forward.

Chocolate Thunder Returns to Planet Lovetron

Posted in The sporting life on August 28th, 2015 by bill

It was the 70s.

My standing New Year’s resolution is to make everything I do funky. I never quite accomplish it – it is an aspirational guide, not an item on a to-do list – and neither does any other human being. But some people come closer than others, and Darryl Dawkins’ lifetime percentage was among the highest.

Darryl is reported to have died yesterday, though I suspect that he really just returned to his home planet, Lovetron. In truth he always seemed a little out of place in this modern world of ours, being as he was the living embodiment of the glory that was basketball in the 70s.

Things were a little looser, a little…well, yes…funkier back then. Darryl Dawkins came into the NBA fresh out of high school in 1975. Within a few years he had acquired the nickname “Chocolate Thunder,” a truly amazing collection of suits (fire-engine red, banana yellow, fuchsia, lime green, etc.) and a well-deserved reputation as a loose cannon. He never listened much to his coaches, just did what he wanted to do, for better and for worse. One of the things he wanted to do was to dunk with all the force his 6-foot-11, 255-pound frame could muster.
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Round 4, Game 6: Warriors 105, Cavaliers 97

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 17th, 2015 by bill

And there was much rejoicing.

The last time my favorite sports team won the championship was 1980, when the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. I turned 13 on the day of Game 2 of the Series, so this week marked the first time in my life I’ve gotten to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate a title. It was delicious. Also strange. Let me explain.

When we arrived at Heathrow it was Tuesday morning, and my only priorities for the day were to get some sleep and to find a way to watch Game 6, which was scheduled to tip off around 2 a.m. The first was easy to accomplish, the second not so much. Searching the guide on the cable system in the flat we’re renting turned up a broadcast of the game; so far so good. But it was a subscription channel that would have to be activated, and getting that done turned out to be an ordeal.

In the meantime, I thought that London being a cosmopolitan metropolis, there might be someplace that Americans gathered to watch basketball in the wee hours of the morning; but if such a thing exists, I could find no evidence of it. The kind gentlemen who’s renting us this place tried diligently to get the necessary channel activated, but in late afternoon informed me that it could not be done. I had just woken up and was almost ready to accept this answer; I had discovered that we could at least stream the game on the iPad, which would have been OK.

But then I rallied and got on the horn to the channel in question, and finally got a phone number that expedited the solution of the problem. That sorted out, we adjourned to dinner at an Indian place called Bengal, which was fantastic. Afterward there was time to kill; we had a little walk in the park, did a crossword puzzle. There was soccer on the tube, then a lame episode of NBA Today, then the pregame blather. At last it was gametime.
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Round 4, Game 5: Warriors 104, Cavaliers 91

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 16th, 2015 by bill

Life sure is funny. Here it is 2015, and I find myself on an airplane en route to London via Toronto, iPad in lap to jot down a few words about the fact that the Warriors just won Game 5 of the NBA Finals to go up 3 games to 2.


History is written by the winners, they say. And all the articles today were about how great the W’s played, how Steph Curry torched the Cavs for 17 points in the 4th quarter, and how Draymond Green roared back to life with a huge game at this crucial juncture. And all these things are true, thank goodness. But what always gets forgotten in these situations is how touch-and-go it all was.

Everything seemed to be up in the air as we crawled through miserably slow traffic in Petaluma, still two hours away from our destination with an hour till gametime. Things had not been going exactly according to plan, and for a moment I considered bolting from the vehicle and making my way to the nearest sports bar on foot. But that would have created some substantial difficulties in my personal life, so I stayed the course.
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Round 4, Game 4: Warriors 103, Cavaliers 82

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 12th, 2015 by bill

Andre Iguodala apparently doesn't like the nickname 'Iggy,' so in recognition of his heroic Game 4 performance, I hereby swear never to call him that again.

Now the truth can be told: I was a little worried. Despite my complete confidence in Steve Kerr and the other people who get paid by Joe Lacob to think about basketball full-time, my stomach was churning as I sat in my barstool at Sidelines waiting for the game to start. And I don’t think it was just the sketchy Mexican food I had for dinner.

This pressure-cooker of the NBA Finals is really intense. And all I have to do is drink whiskey and occasionally shout something encouraging at the TV screen. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a person who actually has to play in these games.
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Round 4, Game 3: Cavaliers 96, Warriors 91

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 10th, 2015 by bill

I'm pretty sure this shot went in.

If history is any indication, the Warriors will be just fine. They were in this same position exactly one month ago: down 2-1 to an opponent who was playing stifling defense, facing a must-win Game 4 on the road, vultures and jackals of the press circling. They won the next three games to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies, and all was right with the world.

That doesn’t make this a fun day to be a Dubs fan. We are all some combination of pissed off, bummed out, torn up, and hung over. Our boys were humbled last night by an undermanned Cleveland team that is playing with psychotic intensity, slowing things to a brutal grind and leaving no trace of the beautiful basketball team we’ve seen all season long. It kind of reminds me of the Vogons:

Billions of years ago, when the Vogons first crawled out of the primeval seas of Vogsphere, lay panting and heaving on the planet’s virgin shores… when the first rays of the young Vogsol sun had shone across them… it seemed as if the forces of evolution had simply given up on them then and there, turned aside in disgust and written them off as an ugly mistake. They would never evolve again. They shouldn’t have survived. The fact that they did is a testament to the thick-willed stubbornness of these creatures. Evolution? they said to themselves. Who needs it? What nature refused to do for them they simply did without until they were able to correct the gross anatomical inconveniences with surgery.
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