Jan. 31, 2011
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Okay, calm down. Sunday did not harm Monta Ellis chances of making theNBA All-Star Team. They are, to steal and modify Fran Leibowitzclassic line about the lottery, the same whether he plays or not. And truthfully, Ellis at the All-Star Game has always struck us as oneof those empty-calorie things, one that really doesnt advance theWarriors in any meaningful way.
In fact, its right up there with those other familiar Warriorbromides, like, If they were only in the Eastern Conference, If itwerent for the injuries, If we could move these three guys forCarmelo Anthony, wed be set," and "The refs never cut the bad teams a break."The Ellis thing has already been discussed to death. He isnt one ofthe best six guards in the West, which is more a statement of the guardquality in the conference. Plus, the Third Law of all-star gamesremains, You get on two years after youve earned it, and you stay ontwo years after you stop.
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And finally, the argument that usually ends any plea for Ellis to make the team is, And the Warriors could use a break. This last one is particular nonsense, because what the Warriors dontneed is more whining for a break. Its off-putting to the rest of us.
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What the Warriors need is a coherent, methodical plan for getting outof the cul de sac that is their place on the NBA map. It means hardwork, an open mind to starting over, smart decisions that showlong-term thinking, and getting rid of the notion that your good playeris the same as the Lakers good player. The Warriors have missed 27 of the past 33 playoffs because theyvemade a series of personnel errors, and then try to convince themselvesthat what they have is more worthy than it is. Its called indulging the illusion, and its gone on from Purvis Short and Joe Barry Carroll to the present day. But the Warriors have done one other thing, and that is convince theaudience that playing attractive basketball is as worthy as playingwinning basketball, and this is where the All-Star Game and Ellis comesinto play. Entertaining basketball is winning basketball, period. Would youhonestly say you would rather have the Warriors of the last 20 years,or the San Antonio Spurs, just to name one team slandered for not beingfun enough?
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Let me help you with that. In an arrhythmic heartbeat, you would. The plain fact is this: This franchise needs to be gutted andcompletely made over, top to bottom. History demands it. The fansdemand it, when theyre not being bought off with free pizzas. Theyneed to get comfortable with the idea that this isnt good enough, andit wont be good enough until 12th becomes eighth and eighth becomesfourth and fourth becomes second, and they become a playoff fixture. And to define this, lets just say theres only one team with a worsehistorical pedigree, and thats the Clippers. Thats a much lower barto clear as Monta Ellis at the All-Star Game. True, this argument doesnt do Ellis a lot of good, because hed liketo go to the game and be thought of as One Of The 24. But Warrior fansdevelop unhealthily comfortable attachments to players who have almostuniversally failed to make them consistently competitive, and Ellis isone of those players. And it must also be said that Ellis has made it clear repeatedly thathed rather win, so he cant be dismissed as a selfish player who justwants his. He has been here long enough to know the crushingdevastation of irrelevance.
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And frankly, relevance needs to be the only goal here. You can say thatin the short-term that Ellis on the All-Star Team is a nice reward forthe customers, but the damage that follows is that the fans get tooattached and forget the real goal here. That is to get Ellis (or someone else) on a lot of All-Star teamsbecause you cant have a 55-win team without a representative. Thatsputting the cart and the horse in their proper places.
What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.