Wednesday, May 6, 2015

David Lee: The Man Who Is Alive, But Not

snooki-and-david-lee110207150845.jpg

One humdrum November night in 2009, a much touted spindly limbed rookie guard found himself inserted in the closing seconds of a game with a foregone conclusion and promptly fouled David Lee (PF, New York Knicks, Old Money). Umbrage was taken, trash was talked. In a game bereft of drama or stakes, a benign altercation would have to suffice for a denouement. The Madison Square Garden camera crew fixed their sights on the comparatively hulking figure of Lee as he viciously admonished the slight guard who had the fucking chutzpah to garbage time foul him. The young guard for his part appeared unflappable, supremely unconcerned with the large white man talking shit. This was, as far as I can tell, the first time the world saw David Lee and Stephen Curry on an NBA court at the same time. They've been together nearly ever since. One dude became the most popular man-boy on the planet and the other guy is David Lee. David Lee, huh, what's that guy with the boring name's story? Well, David Lee is a seemingly pleasant enough rich guy rocketing towards an inevitable reckoning with the point of no return.


When he was just a smaller and younger version of himself, David Lee used to feed jaguars and lions with his grandfather. His grandfather was a fellow who had lots and lots of money, and feeding big cats is something rich grandfathers like to share with their heirs. It also seems like something Caligula would do with his grandson, but apparently this old dude was cool and not the least bit like Caligula. E. Desmond Lee had made his fortune manufacturing metal hangers and wire shelving. He also played a bit of basketball back in the day, loved his model trains, and was nuts about the symphony. The thing we know Grandpa Lee for best was philanthropy. Before he died he had given an atrociously vast amount of money ($70 million) away to various charities and causes, mostly to the good stuff, education and the arts. He lived long enough to see his former feed-the-lions buddy somehow become a professional basketball player, and even more somehow, perhaps owing to the well known generous and forgiving nature of New York Knicks fans, become a fan favorite. Doughy David Lee: a Hero for Our Times!


Since signing with the Warriors the national media has mostly been less eager to write puff pieces. A scrappy white man who can jump is a lot more inspiring for the kids back home than a guy pocketing a cool $80 million and not even being anything close to a messiah. Expectations were sidelined for hopes, because no one really expected that much. Every defensive breakdown was scrutinized, held up as proof that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks and also hey, this guy can’t hold his ground against the big front courts or chase the quick ones out to the three-point line. He’s battled being a punchline from the likes of Kirk Goldsberry, who referred to him disparagingly in a let's face it, way too highly publicized presentation at the Sloan Conference as the “Golden Gate". My counter-point? The Golden Gate Bridge is not terrible.

The best press David Lee seemed to get was a mumbly Shaquille O’Neal dubbing him the “White Chris Webber”, which is...a nice-ish thing to say? Lee never came close to getting the loudest applause at Oracle. No one will write a “Why We Watch” article about him for the Classical. My sense of it is that most Warriors fans at least sort of appreciated the little things he brought to the table, like his White House Press Secretary style sideline interviews and his willingness to get into scrums to back teammates. It's never been proven that Lee is a psychopath or a murderer, or that he enjoys Smash Mouth. And come on, dude almost lost his shooting arm courtesy of Wilson Chandler’s teeth. That probably endeared him to some folks who value Purple Hearts and stuff like that. 

Everyone has an opinion on David Lee, the missing piece that never much fit. Golden State of Mind comment sections, the dank alleyways of Twitter, your friends and neighbors.


We need not shed tears for David Lee. Shedding literal tears for that guy would be a weird waste of tears. He was born rich and he will likely die rich. He partied with Snookie. He's tall and not uncomely as they say. It’s not about that of course. When he is gone and mostly forgotten the Warriors will keep on moving, one way or another. This sports thing is all about cycles, and only the smartest and luckiest franchises get to be contenders ad infinitum. It may be that we’ll be back where we started soon enough. But to cherish what we have, where we are, as close to the crown as we’ve been since the goddamn 70s, it feels wrong to not give David Lee some small amount of regard. The world won’t stop for David Lee, or any of us. All that we can hope for is to be remembered somewhat fondly, for being attached in some small way to a part of this living thing that was precious to someone for some amount of time, and for not being involved in betrayal or neglect or destruction or abuse or failed power-plays. David Lee never rocked our sinking boat or tried to single-handedly navigate it past treacherous shoals. He just did what he did. A pick-and-roll savant, great hands, superior finisher around at the rim, some slick midrange jumpers for awhile there...It wasn’t nearly enough to match his pay stubs, but he went about it without throwing a single sulk, even now that’s he’s the new (old) Kent Bazemore. So now I will raise a glass of affordable but not shitty whiskey and make a toast: Here’s to David Lee, who played hard in ofttimes shitty circumstances, a man signed to my favorite team who made them better than they were. I feel mostly no regrets.


Imagine David Lee spending the day with his grandson at the zoo in St. Louis. He’s arranged it so that they will feed jaguars and lions together. The concrete beneath their feet burns. His hair has receded, what little left is white as bone. His body has gone to fat a little, the hint of a heavy middle no longer a hint at all. But he can still keep up with an energetic eight year old. The boy fixes him with an inquisitive look as they watch a sleeping zebra.


“Grandpa,” the young boy says, “Did you fight in the war?”


David Lee’s takes a kerchief out of his fanny-pack and wipes his brow. He sweats a lot now. His thoughts are mostly half remembered shadows, but some things never go: high-fives and thunderous applause and then heckling and the screech of sneakers pivoting on hardwood. And then there was that time he had 37 points and 21 rebounds...


David Lee shakes his head at his eager grandson, “No...but I was a Golden State Warrior for a few years. And you know what? Never mind what haters say, ignore them ‘til they fade away, amazing they ungrateful after all the game I gave away. Safe to say I paved the way, for you cats to get paid today.”

True, true.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Be Like Brandon, not Mike






So, a few weeks ago we all heard the shitty news that Brandon Jennings will miss the rest of the season after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during a perfectly random middle of the season who gives a shit Detroit loss to Milwaukee. It was a personal tragedy for Brandon and his family, a possibly pivotal setback for the Pistons who were in the midst of mounting a supremely rare redemption story, and a sucker punch to the gut for anyone who puts stock in the unrepentant and wild 80s LA hardcore punk ethos of the playground baller amidst the staid machine that is the National Basketball Association.

There are much better talents and way better players than Jennings, but the 25-year-old point guard was always unmistakably himself, and he didn't market his brand for Republicans who also bought sneakers. His journey from basically a cast-off to a sorta leading man wasn't quite the stuff of legend, but it would do. It was the crossroads where pathos skull-fucked bathos and made a human seem like a person.

Brandon Jennings spent the first four years of his NBA career in Milwaukee, before being traded to the Detroit Pistons in the summer of 2013. At the time, Detroit had lost its way in spectacular, almost super-human fashion. They were routinely clobbered in almost every manner you can be clobbered, accumulating a straight-up cornucopia of painful losses. Teams win and then they lose. No recent team has done the latter more strangely and suddenly than the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons have tried a lot of different things to improve their talent level since ceding the mantle as the Eastern’s elite team to the Big 3 Celtics back in 2008. [The gory details include: Michael Curry’s plodding big-ego compromised version of small-ball, Lawrence Frank’s ghostliness, the mutiny against John Kuester, the helplessness of Mo Cheeks, the gamble on Allen Iverson, the false prophet of Rodney Stuckey, the contracts of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the broken down TRACY MCGRADY playing point guard, the return of Old Ben Wallace, the continued prominence before a merciful exile of Tayshaun Prince, the rookie promise of Jonas Jerebko, the hair of Kyle Singler, and finally, acquiring Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings for the Great Ball Hog Renaissance. ]

Detroit lost and lost and lost some more. To forestall more losing, their new owner reached out to Stan Van Gundy and made Van Gundy a veritable Grand Vizier of Basketball Operations, putting the entire campaign in his hands. And then they kept losing, starting this season with a dismal 5–23 record. Another lost year, it seemed.



But then something happened. Highly-paid chucker Josh Smith was waived, and almost instantly the Pistons started winning games. In a row. Call it addition by subtraction, call it an exorcism, that’s how history will no doubt see those few magical weeks when the script was flipped, burned, torn apart and re-written from a tragedy to a triumphant underdog story. There was suddenly hope in a town that had subsisted on crumbs since 2008.

On paper, resurrections look inspiring but largely shapeless. But in reality they tend have faces, and the two guys that the pundits were eager to bestow the credit to for the remarkable turn-around were Van Gundy and his spindly starting point-guard, Brandon Jennings. The team put together 12 wins in a 15-game stretch, beating the league’s lowlifes and giants alike. Brandon was winning again, averaging 20 points and seven assists per game. He was making a last stand against being typecast as an inefficient and perpetual loser, the type of guy that seems always on the verge of becoming a journeyman, even though he hasn’t done much NBA-journeying.



The nice little run the Pistons made after jettisoning Josh Smith, a run very much led by Brandon Jennings, was supposed to be the first step in reversing our perspective on the Pistons. Teams that far in the hole don’t come back with a vengeance. They just accept their fate, wait for the lottery, and give it the old college try next year. For whatever silly reason, these Pistons thought they could be the exception to the rule, and sneak into the playoffs and possibly even make some noise once they got there. For a while that seemed probable, and — given the torpidity of Brooklyn and the myriad of setbacks in Miami — perhaps even likely. One torn Achilles tendon later, and all that hope in Detroit was cruelly extinguished.


And that’s a fucking shame. Because there aren’t too many Brandon Jennings’ in this league. Guys with the sense of humor of a doomed poet carved into them. Complex guys who exist in mirth and in darkness at once. Watch his scenes in Adam Yauch’s “Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot” and tell me Brandon doesn’t have a certain gloom to him, even in his ebullient moments, that feels rare in his particular cohort. The way the camera lingers on him during a quiet moment, the stenography of his silence. This is a young man whose father committed suicide. A person written off by so many people it must seem almost blas√©. This is a guy who had decided at a very young age to give David Stern’s cynical paean to the sanctity of college hoops a middle finger, and go overseas to play in Italy, thereby denying himself of a mandatory year of being enrolled at a university before declaring for the draft.



Brandon’s stunt at the 2009 draft is the stuff of legend. Hearing rumors of his draft stock plummeting, Jennings took the novel approach of not even being in the building instead of risking embarrassment in the Green Room. When the Bucks drafted him at No. 10, David Stern was forced to keep the show moving before Jennings eventually arrived on the scene. He took the stage with an excess of bitter swagger, waved to the crowd, and only then offered the Commissioner a perfunctory handshake. It’s brilliant, nearly art.

And then the 55-point explosion. In just his seventh career game, Jennings went absolutely bonkers, but in the most beautiful and dangerous way. It was a fantastic display of moxie and desperation and spoke to his irritability vis-à-vis losing. It was those playground handles, relentless drives, crafty moves under the basket, daring tip-ins amongst the trees, and one trebuchet-looking three-point attempt after another. He looked immortal, like a goddamn superstar.



However, as is the case with early critical acclaim, outliving his great moment took a toll on him. Never again would he even sniff 50 points. The Bucks made the playoffs in his rookie season and lost in the first round. Turns out he wasn’t a superstar, and the Milwaukee fanbase slowly turned on him. His tenure with the Bucks was more underwhelming than terrible. His shooting percentages were never great, his individual impact on the game was often in doubt. He was the leader, but not a leader. He was a serious person, but played like a joker. Brandon’s trajectory did not seem to be a happy one.

After the Bucks sent him to Detroit there seemed at least the possibility that things might turn around, but the Brandon Jennings/Josh Smith Pistons were a complete disaster from the get-go. The guy who had dared to not even show up to the NBA Draft was now going through the motions. Then suddenly the team’s fortunes reversed, capped off by a blistering stretch that confounded supporters and detractors alike. The Pistons as a whole looked strangely great. They played like a team, as if they knew each other's names and favorite spots, played as if they've even shared non-silent meals with one another from time to time. And no one on that Hoosiers meets the Bad News Bears squad played better than Jennings, the scrawny kid who certainly gave a damn, but perhaps not a fuck.



Since Smith was cut loose and before suffering his season-ending injury, Jennings had posted the seventh-best PER in the league — his name alongside Harden, Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant, LeBron, and Anthony Davis. Although by itself such a small sample size proves nothing, to people who have been watching him all along it reinforced what we already knew. He belongs. He’s not those guys, not a transcendent talent, but he damn-well belongs. I don't know how to feel about Michael Jordan, other than I don't want to be like him. Brandon's more accessible and sympathetic to norms like me. There’s something to be said for a mid-tier terror, a menace that lurks and waits. Brandon has that 55-point masterpiece inside him always, timing its escape.


The Pistons may very well make the playoffs without him. They may not. It’s the luck of the draw and fortune’s shitty caprice that dragged him down this season, of all seasons. But the unlikely and all too short Phoenix (the bird!) like rise of the Detroit Pistons is the latest example of a life’s worth of mounting evidence that every now and then we get the chance to see the mathematics of certainty fucked with. Sometimes it's beautiful when that happens.

A now deleted tweet by Jennings read, "Not being able to play basketball is the worst thing."

Depressing. But just like Detroit, Brandon Jennings will rise again. Then he can have his revenge and eat it too.

Friday, January 9, 2015

On Being Removed from the Situation


Many of us, particularly those of us stateside, forget why basketball blogging and twitter are important. You of the more convenient time zones ask simply, “Why not just watch the games?” For those of you with cheap Bucks or Kings tickets available in particular, it’s hard to convey the position we on the other end of the world have. We get things through you second hand. We wake up in the morning and check fantasy scores and scroll through reposted dunk Vines. Try as we might, having a job or school means watching the vast majority of games, even for a favorite team, isn’t feasible. 

So I’ve lost my right to blog about basketball. I’m not longer engaged in the primary source, the text of the sport, and am instead resigned to taking your word for it. A handful of podcasts, a box score or two, this is how we keep in touch. 

Am I seeing the same NBA as you? I am not. Can I be as objective about it as you, or bring forth original insights? I cannot. Perhaps, in my position, I am only qualified to tell you what it’s like from “over there,” and how we might spread our dear league to the world. 

The sport itself, as you probably know well, is portable. Buy a ball and it’s easy enough to put up hoops, to find three other people. And foreigners do play. Foreigners even call “Kobe” at appropriate times. It does not need explaining that anyone, anywhere “can.” 

Deficiencies abound. We probably don’t know what happened in that game last night. We might, if you’re very lucky, know that the Wizards are doing well, or that Tom Thibodeau is a good defensive coach. Here in Israel, nearly everyone knows more or less what David Blatt is up to, understandably, but that’s the most detailed knowledge you’ll find. 

Yet many understand the basics of basketball. A random weeknight walk past the park, you’ll find Orthodox Jewish men and boys in black suits backing each other down in the post. The Maccabi Tel Aviv win dominated the papers for three solid days afterward, and this was during the tumult leading up to Operation Defensive Edge. Clearly, sports and basketball in particular matter.

But somewhere between shores the game becomes estranged from itself. Here they know names of greats, and some mythological qualities they possess: LeBron can drive like a train, Rondo has a quality no-look assist. They know very few concrete facts, and this somehow adds to the beauty. Performances pass into legend with no one checking the facts. You, basketball blogger, create this reality for them. 

In the same way a young man from Tel Aviv reads stories about D.C. and Bad Brains, and places himself there and fabricates his reality of the way things must have been, in some ways better, in some ways worse, so we wreathe basketball in our own particular fictions, here. For all we know, John Wall never hit a three point shot in his whole career. We exaggerate, we simplify, and we build it all from you. 


So consider us, when you don’t know what you’re writing, or why you’re doing it, or if it’s worth it. We here, of the less fortunate time zones, need you. You feed our myths. You bring us the basketball from the sacred lands, incalculably better than our own, though we couldn’t exactly explain why. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Memories of Older Men

 I was tall for my age,
And turned to basketball in hopes
            Of finding trousers that fit.
Perhaps it sounds silly,
But, so does a cracking voice
            In a silent room –
That funny, broken language of youth.

Here, during the early years,
There are fewer things more important
            Than to know, you aren’t alone.
So, I sought the trouser deficient
Because shared plight is hardly a plight at all,
            It is a chance to be,
Without being more than you can handle.

It was a revolution of the physically awkward.

We danced across the hardwood.
We moved in synchronicity,
            And we moved in corresponding paths,
Larger than the sum of our parts,
Which is difficult to believe.
            In waking life, we stumbled,
But here, we found grace.

Though my limbs remained gangly,
And what I sought never found its way into my possession,
            I did eventually inherit wealth;
The glowing riches of glory delivering itself
Into my hands: the soft arch fighting against time –
            A time I never thought of –  
And when it ended, how was I to know?

I can still hear the voices, the throats urging glee.
I don’t remember if I eeked anything more than a
            Squeaky whelp, but for that moment, I was loved.
If you go into that gym now,
My name will still hang,
            And there I am young.
It is a life that continues on, with age and death be damned.

The laurels short-lived, and I have lived too long without.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wednesday Night in Mexico City

Well, I'm back for my (now) weekly blog post!

I watched the entire Rockets-T-Wolves game on Wednesday night. I did this for a few reasons:

     1. They are the 10th and 5th youngest teams in the NBA, respectively
The six youngest teams in the NBA, in order, are the 76ers, Bucks, Jazz, Celtics, Timberwolves, and Magic. What do all these teams have in common? They suck. And aren’t going to sniff the playoffs this year. Which makes sense, in today’s NBA where you want to load up on picks, and suck until you acquire enough young talent to make an actual run. But what a difference a few spots makes. At 9th youngest you have the Thunder, and then 10th youngest are the Rockets. Two teams with definite championship aspirations, which goes to show that there’s a point for every team where you have to stop leaning on the excuse of youth, and just go out and win a few games. But back to the point, this game was going to be actually interesting to watch.

  1. Dwight Howard may have the ugliest, yet most effective game in the world
As frustrating as Dwight’s offensive game may be to watch, if he’s put in the right position (like, say a regular season game played in Mexico City, where he’s the biggest star) it can be a real treat. He was egging on the crowd, goaltending, and generally acting a fool. Which we certainly didn’t get a glimpse of during his Lakers years.

  1. The Timberwolves have no idea what they are. But are still super fun to watch.
Now that Rubio’s out, Zach Lavine is attempting to run the point. The man is not a point guard. He’s a super athletic two, with arms, legs, and dunking ability for days, but not who you want running your offense. There were probably three plays a half where he made such an athletic play that maybe six other players in the league could make--going coast to coast through 4 guys, turning the corner into the lane, or just jumping over the rim--but every time he had no idea how to finish. It was like he knew what to do, and could barely believe that he was allowed to do it, but had no concept of how to finish elegantly. And to be fair, that upside (see also: The Brow) is so tempting if you’re a general manager. This kid has all the physical abilities, we just need to harness that energy. Every UCLA fan agrees, and that’s what made him such a frustrating player in Westwood, and will continue to frustrate Minnesotans for years to come.

  1. Andrew Wiggins. What did Minnesota get in return for Kevin Love? (I don’t count Bennett.)
Well, he’s not a great offensive player yet, but he could be a real lockdown defender, and with his athleticism, he could very easily become a Scottie Pippen/Shawn Marion-type for the frozen north. Check back in 4 years and we’ll see what he’s done, and if he's learned to score in the league.

  1. Did I mention that I had three players in this game in a daily fantasy game with $20 riding on it?
Oh yeah, that probably should have been reason number one. Turns out Isaiah Canaan is horrendous--Jason Terry outplayed him, and it wasn’t even close. The man can’t finish at the rim, or anywhere else on the court for that matter. Konstantinos "Kostas" Papanikolaou is my new favorite Greek (after the Freak, of course--that’s forever and always a lock). The man has a wet jumper, isn’t horrendous defensively, which is to say, he plays Houston Rockets basketball. But, I still pulled out the 50/50 because James Harden can get to the rim whenever he desires. Here’s a thought, NBA defenses: try to not hack his arms when he puts them out there for you to foul him. The man is always on the free throw line. We’ve seen this for five years. Whatever, I guess that’s why I’m not the next Thibs. And to be honest, I’m OK with it. At least I’m capable of a smile.


Follow Jon Getz on Twitter @jongetz09 where he’ll start to live tweet games, and then stop for no reason.

Monday, November 10, 2014

5-1


The Warriors look amazing. At 5-1 and as of yesterday boasting the league's top ranked defense, they've finally started looking the part of true contender, shedding the Junior Varsity feel of a talented yet fatally flawed paper tiger. Most of this, in my humble and fairly well shared opinion, is the result of Mark Jackson's dismissal. I thought Jackson did more than most to shackle the potential of this team, but to be fair, he did a lot of good things for the Warriors, most notably getting (most) of them to fall totally head over heels in coach-love with him. When Jackson was fired some of us wondered about the chemistry or the raw lingering feelings guys like Steph and Draymond and Andre Iguodala might carry with them after seeing their guy done dirty. I thought about this for half a second, mentioned it to my dad, and what my dad told me was to get real.
My father has tried to teach me many things over the years, and it’s not the least bit his fault I downright failed to learn most of them. He has a patient heart, but I am a poor student. Fractions, Windsor knots, how to keep a car from exploding, these are just some of the things I failed or half-failed to grasp under his guidance. Born in the middle of the pack of eight children, with beauty queens and a boy genius leading the way, he figured going out for organized sports was his ticket to defining himself. Basketball was his favorite. It’s safe to say that it is not a coincidence that basketball is the only sport that I really care about. 
Dad was interested in slightly manlier things than I was. Besides football and basketball, he was also captivated by the history of war, drove a pick-up truck, enjoyed jets, and liked his steak rare. As I grew up awkward and sarcastic, he accepted and approved and supported. He watched with patience as I tried to throw that huge orange ball up at the hoop and rarely lucked into a made shot. I really was a terrible pupil, but as I said, that didn’t matter to him. He explained the game with grace, deflecting one dumb question at a time or several at once. He peeled away arcane layers and made it all so simple, so profound, so no shit. He was like a hoops-head Socrates, pre-hemlock.
So, imagine my surprise last season, when this team-this successful team of Warriors, this team my dad revealed to me, finally GOOD after so many awful and worse years-annoyed the shit out of me. And seemingly at all times, the national media and any talking head in proximity to a microphone browbeated us into accepting Mark Jackson as the benevolent savior of a beshitted and cursed franchise. He was the Patron Saint of Beggars Can't Be Choosers. Notwithstanding finding him a thinly veiled hypocritical blowhard, it was painful to watch this team as constructed continually attempt to paint using hammers. 
There were moments, of course. Good moments, excellent moments. But the joy hovered just out of reach. It was coy cruelty, potential so obviously unrealized it felt almost ludicrous. But yes, there was good stuff. Stephen Curry unleashed was and is lovely to behold. Andrew Bogut’s blunt rage inspires, but didn't have such good home and away splits. Those games in which Iguodala shifted into the corporeal and looked like the player he used to be…When Draymond Green showed again and again why he deserves minutes over Nice Fella Harrison Barnes…when Klay Thompson hits a corner three completely stoned out of his mind and hella dreaming of munchies…
And yet one of the defining feel-good moments of last year, when the Warriors snarled back from an unseemly ass-whupping by the then lowly Toronto Raptors en route to a(n) historic comeback, felt altogether more nauseating than inspiring. When they couldn’t defend their homecourt against cellar dwellers (reflexively thinking of a group of grown men as “cellar dwellers” also seems wrong!), or when they couldn’t manage to put away the Spurs sans their Big Three or when Harrison Barnes consistently failed to beat Kirk Hinrich off the dribble… A jilted lover’s obsession with taking advantage of match-ups…18 year veteran Jermaine O’Neal as your best player for long stretches…Walking the ball up the court…The rumored exile of the avuncular and wise Jim Barnett…The calling for hedonistic hero ball again and again, by design.
This team should have been able to run anyone off the court and yet…
They just didn’t, or couldn’t, or wouldn’t.
They were poets reduced to copywriters. All the incessant talk of the offensively dominant and exciting to watch Warriors ended up being precisely that-incessant talk. Supremely constructed mediocrity! And so it was. “Perfection” was closer, but not that close. After exile from basketball relevancy, I wanted to immediately be the Spurs and the Showtime Lakers, and the 1996 Bulls. Several things became apparent in rapid succession. Maybe Bulls and Lakers and Spurs fans have never felt the joy that comes with uncertainty. Their teams are too good, too well managed. Success is terrifying. Being a fan of a professional sports team is insanity. Willingly signing up for a plane crash, or at least a plane that may never end up landing. Is it moral to hand down this trifling angst generation to generation? Should I put a Golden State Warriors cap on my son’s head? Should I watch the games with my little girls?
My phone calls home were infrequent, but they usually consisted of  75% Warriors talk. I’ve kept a lot of my angst from Dad. But there was one particular game I had to sound off about. It was a narrow win, over a terrible team. A game we should have won by forty points. A game we should have won before the whistle even blew. I was driving home from depositing a negligible check. My mood was foul. There was frost on my window and this winter was never going to end. Two rings and dad answered. I readied some talking points.
“See the game?” Dad asked.
“Yeah. It-”
“It was great.” And then he started talking about Stephen Curry the way young Macedonians might have spoken about Alexander the Great.
I swallowed my petty complaints instantly, or at least compartmentalized them. They were valid. But they didn’t have anything to do with this version of the Warriors, this part of their objective truth. The part that had to do with my dad.
Dad still believed. Dad has been around long enough to keep the faith. Dad didn't care about Mark Jackson. He shared every one of my misgivings. But unlike his feckless son, Dad is not one to quit on something. As I said, I’m slow to learn. 
One thing I’ve always retroactively admired is my dad has always been ready and able to pull my head out of my ass, but benevolently, and without reprimand. And sometimes the faithful are rewarded. Sometimes they aren't of course. Sometimes the faithful are hanged from the neck until they be dead or forced to endure five seasons of pure unencumbered tanking. But...sometimes they are rewarded.
And this year has been a very nice reward, indeed. The Golden State Warriors have played a mere six games and yet the world has turned and left Mark Jackson looking awful. From top to bottom, the Warriors look like a team ready to make a run of it, literally a run, as they no longer stroll leisurely up the court as if on the way to a mid-term. My grim prognostication about the Warriors getting thrashed early in the season for failing to acclimate to Steve Kerr's new system seems to have been unfounded. My nightmares of Mareese Speights shooting half court shots with 23 seconds left on the shot clock were just that, nightmares (weird nightmares). There's always the possibility of a mass unraveling. Injuries, Shakespearean betrayal, a panic trade, the Reckoning of the Return of Kevin Durant, many and more things can of course derail this beautiful train. But that's the game, yo. And the Warriors are playing the game out of their fucking minds right now.
And my dad is happy.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

An Ode to Regular Season Defense - The Most Grandiose of Guest Posts

Welcome to another exciting guest post from friend of the blog, Jon Getz (@jongetz09). -David




You unheralded nightly Warrior
(Well, Bogut, Iggy, Thompson)
Nightly grinder, full of grit
No highlights for you, in fast live tweets
Only on posters, will you be put
For challenging a Blake or James
And yet, without your close-outs
Your swift rotations, and crouch so low
The ABA would have returned
119 to 105 would be no surprise
So with this forum, we honor you
Your craft is for the playoffs
How championships are won
Though never understood, or focused on
Thibs is proud (well, can he be?)
No smile may cross those lips
For an uncontested three
Or too many throws, free

A block in bounds, let’s say, a "Russell"
Will never make it through to that muscle
Of Howard’s arms, they’ll swat with fury
But Duncan taps, and then will hurry
Secure the possession, and the break
And Leonard too, we all would take
If on-ball defense were a stat
If only life could be just that—
Unrecognized, we still want more
The biggest steals, we know as lore
But is it worth, to gamble so?
For Paul, yes, Rubio, no
So get low, wing man on D
Hike up your shorts, slap the floor
And if it’s up to me
So long as you’re not Craft, we’ll love you more

Follow Jon "Keats" Getz on twitter @jongetz09, where he promises to only make clever literary puns, if at all. And he’ll only reference the Celtics’ Marcus’ defense as "wicked Smaht" once a season.