Armstrong enters the next phase

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Armstrong enters the next phase

Lance Armstrong enters the next phase of his non-person stage today, now that Nike has given him the traditional Viking funeral setting him adrift and letting the tide do its work.But the news Wednesday is no more dispositive of Armstrongs long-term public prognosis than it was before the systematic nature of his lies and bullying overwhelmed even the people he made money for all these years. Put another way, there will be some other LiveStrong product in his future, and the only question now is how late at night the ads for whatever his next product will run.RELATED: Nike severs ties, Armstrong steps down as LiveStrong chairman
If that passes as disgrace in this culture, then it passes as disgrace. It says volumes about how we determine a persons worth, of course, since the history which has so offended people lately has been readily available for anyone who wanted to know.The point is, the Nike announcement, and Armstrongs resignation from the LiveStrong Foundation should have been regarded as no news at all. Armstrongs deeds were already glowing a radioactive green before this, yet somehow Nikes imprimatur was required to make it official.Theres a lesson in that, of course. It is proof that we have become so tolerant of misbehavior by the brazen and arrogance by the powerful that their disgrace can only be defined by the even more powerful.And intriguingly, Nikes deicison wasnt based on whether Armstrong was a maniacal juicer, or the hall monitor from hell, or a rampant liar. Nike fired Armstrong because he wouldnt be moving any more of their product, at least not in a rate that made him worth the bother any longer.In short, what Nike was doing was much different than what people want to think Nike was doing. The only thing everyone can agree on is that Armstrong is he and his army of defenders will have to find news ways for him to make money.And he will find them. He will not become invisible, not for long. Disgrace in America is as negotiable as it is flexible, and Armstrongs biggest crime making America believe he wasnt what he clearly and always was is one America usually gets over.It may take a series of contrived and insincere apologies on the daytime talk show circuit. It may take one long tearful interview from by some allegedly concerned celebrity interviewer. It might even take, in a worst-case scenario, throwing himself on the mercy of the French.But Armstrong didnt stop fighting USADA and its Pyrenees of evidence without mentally beginning his campaign back from Elba. He knew all these other shoes would drop, because he knows how the P.R. game is played at the highest corporate levels. Love to hate in 5.8 seconds, hate to love in a year or so.He is playing his bad hand in the time-honored poker way as long as he has a chip and chair, hes still live. And he knows he will not be abandoned to those who bought hardest into his mythology.And no, Nike never bought into his mythology. Nike helped refine his mythology, and cashed in on it with both hands and feet, but Nike didnt get to be Nike by biting the hook it baits.In sum, Armstrongs fall Wednesday may impress some people as final, but nothing is truly final except death and the Kansas City Royals. The things he did that should have earned him his shame were ignored by too many, and Wednesday s news was just a corporate decision rather than a moral statement.Whats wrong with too many of us, in the final analysis, is that we are so comfortable conflating the two. But we'll find out some late night when we can't sleep and misplace the remote when his ad comes on.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings aren’t done fighting yet. In front of their home crowd, they pulled off their second consecutive shocker, this time dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in dramatic fashion by the final of 91-90.

Darren Collison battled Mike Conley Jr. all night long at the point guard position. After scoring 19 against the Clippers on Sunday, Collison hit the Grizzlies for 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting and added a team-high seven assists. His free throw with 5.7 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner.

Rookie Buddy Hield continued his hot shooting, scoring 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The 23-year-old shooting guard is quickly establishing himself as a big time scoring option for the Kings moving forward.

Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 7-footer Kosta Koufos found success against his former team, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out late.

Ty Lawson led the second unit with 10 points, while Anthony Tolliver went 4-of-7 from the field for nine points.

Conley Jr. received the biggest contract in NBA history during the offseason and he showed why Monday against the Kings. The veteran point guard dropped in 22 points and dished out nine assists as the Grizzlies fell to 40-34 on the season.

35-year-old big man Zach Randolph went to work in the post. The 16-year NBA vet dropped in 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, schooling the Kings frontline with the left-handed flip early in the game.

Brandan Wright came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Troy Daniels added 10 points.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Collison is heating up. Over his last two games, the veteran guard has scored 42 points on 16-for-24 shooting and kept his team in the ballgame.

TURNING POINT:
Despite leading by eight on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, Sacramento couldn’t close the door on the Grizzlies. Collison drew a foul with 5.7 remaining and his team trailing by one. He knocked down both freebies and Randolph missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help the Kings improve to 29-45 on the season.   

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter and Tyreke Evans sat for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings are back at it Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center when the Utah Jazz roll through Sacramento. Following the matchup with Utah, the Kings travel to New Orleans to face former King DeMarcus Cousins on Friday evening.

 

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.