Ray Ratto

Ratto: Relevance, not All-Stars, is Warriors' goal


Ratto: Relevance, not All-Stars, is Warriors' goal

Jan. 31, 2011


Ray Ratto

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.
RELATED: Monta Ellis stats
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.
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Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.