No mystery in Warriors-S.F. connection


No mystery in Warriors-S.F. connection

On the one hand, Joe Lacob picked a good day to announce he was flirting with moving the Warriors to San Francisco and leaving Oakland. Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Lakers had just been turned into victims by the new arm-twisters who run the NBA, so the nation wasnt paying a lot of attention to the petty concerns of one of its lesser noticed franchises.

But we noticed anyway, and there really isnt a good time to tell people who already feel like all their favorite amusements are looking to beat feet out of town. This was always part of Lacobs plan when he bought the team, and there was not going to be a good time to drop the news.

In short, Chris Paul couldnt provide enough cover. Now maybe if the Warriors had somehow cheated the laws of logic and physics and traded for Paul, he could have, but as it is . . .

Thus far, Lacob has not given the impression that he is long on patience, or that he can masterfully navigate the shifting winds of public relations. He has good days and bad days like all public figures, but his fan base is the East Bay, and the East Bay is probably going to lose the As and has no idea about whether it might lose the Raiders as well.

Then he throws this one into the wind -- announcing that he has been talking with Giants front man Larry Baer about the possibility of an arena near the baseball teams little business park that wouldnt be built until 2018 at the earliest. He just gave his East Bay fans, who are already on edge about having one of the games most nationally invisible franchises for most of the past 15-plus years, more reason to worry.

Of course this has always been the master plan. Lacob is a West Bay guy, he bought the team with a covetous eye toward San Francisco, and the idea of land by the bay never fails to put a glint in a wealthy mans eye.

But a fan base that has been nothing but faithful in the face of such remorselessly bad entertainment isnt interested in what puts a spring in Joe Lacobs step. He is trading in all his remaining good will on two huge gambles, and if he is wrong on either, he will learn what Chris Cohan learned the public eye isnt always flattering.

The first gamble is that the Warriors will win, and soon. The longer it takes for the franchise to be torn down and rebuilt, the less patience will be expended on his behalf. This is why the teams history matters seven playoff appearance in 36 years, and one in 17, add up no matter who has the corner office.

The second is that Larry Ellison, the Oracle billionaire whom Cohan played into driving the price up on his franchise, may view the Warriors interest in San Francisco as the opening required to buy say, New Orleans, just to name a distressed franchise and move it to San Jose.

This has been a popular stalking horse for awhile now, the Ellison card, but it has its flaws. The league may be interested in protecting Lacobs investment by not putting a team 40 miles to the south, and more to the point, the new nastier NBA owners may be reluctant to have a new big spender in their midst.

And even if they do like Ellison, whats to say he wouldnt prefer buying the Lakers from the ailing Jerry Buss? The new owner power base has made it clear that the Lakers are now a target for their jealousies and incompetences, and the family might be interested in cashing out for the right exorbitant price. I mean, if your choices are the Kings or the Lakers, what would you do?

In short, this is like everything else a far more complicated process than it seems. But Lacob has decided to show a face card before the flop. The question whether he is paired, or bluffing, or whether he figured that since everyone knows he wants to be in San Francisco anyway, he may as well wait for the NBA to do something big enough to make his announcement seem small.

So no, there wouldnt be a good time for Joe Lacob to drop this little bomb on The Chronicles Rusty Simmons. And this is a long way from getting done, given what we know about the City and County of San Francisco. But it is an interesting new twist in the story of the Warriors, The Team That -- for the past 17 years at least -- Has Known How To Make Sure The Last Guy Got Blamed For Not Getting Anything Done.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention


Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.