Ray Ratto

Ratto: Thompson doesn't solve Warriors' issues


Ratto: Thompson doesn't solve Warriors' issues

June 23, 2011

Follow @RattoCSNRay Ratto

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson does not make you happy, because Klay Thompson does not change the Warriors.Unless he really is the backup shooting forward Larry Riley said he could be. Or unless this is the spur to trade either Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry. Or unless Thompson is a trade piece himself.Or unless this is just the sequel, Don Nelson Lives!Thompson, the 6-7 forward from Washington State, was taken 11th by the Warriors, and the first thought was that he gave them more of what they already had. Even Riley, one of the teams six or seven general managers, said, Our inside presence issue has not been solved yet.In short, this was a classic No. 11 Rolling Stones pick -- you cant always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
And lets be frank here -- the Warriors needed players, especially ones who can cast a shadow. They have players who are tall and impossibly thin, and players who are small and unreliably defensive, and Thompson slips somewhere in the middle, as a backup three whose game starts and ends with shooting and who could play significant minutes on a team of scorers.That is, he isnt the start of a master plan that leads to the trade of either Ellis or, less likely, Curry.That is an open issue as day dawns Friday, because while this is a Jerry West selection (an important distinction given the teams surfeit of basketball decision makers), the bigger decisions -- finding a defender and rebounder who plays close to the basket, and who and what that would cost -- are still to be hashed out on Mahogany Row.Thompson is not the fascinating choice that Jimmer Fredette (10th, to Sacramento) would have been, or the immediate help choice than Kahwi Leonard (15th, to Indiana, then to San Antonio) would have been, or the guaranteed veteran trade pick that Kemba Walker (9th, to Charlotte) would have been.Thompson is actually orthodoxy unchained, and not just Warrior orthodoxy. This draft did not have what the Warriors needed, and given that, they needed to avoid an albatross. We dont know yet whether they have done that with Thompson, but we know he is the first piece of what had better be a series of others.Hes an 11. The last impact player to be picked 11th was Allan Houston, 18 years ago. What did you think you were getting?Ray Ratto is a columnist with CSNBayArea.com.

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together


National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

So after one day, the NSOBL (the National Son-Of-A-Bitch League, as if you couldn’t guess) has survived the contemptible brain-burps of the Panderer-In-Chief. Now we’ll see if the players’ fury has true staying power.
And by staying power, we don’t mean whether they will continue to defy the call of the National Anthem (an easy enough task), but whether they view their newfound solidarity as something that needs to be nurtured to truly endure.
After all, it’s easy to be galvanized by the noisy neighbor who spends his day on the porch shouting irrational obscenities at the neighbors. But Donald Trump isn’t the issue; he never was. All he did was put a face to the idiocies that prevent us from being the country we should be.
But this started a year ago with a single knee, a single person, and a broader cause than a President who needs to pick fights the way a vampire needs naked necks. Colin Kaepernick, whose career as a football player is essentially over because he caused the NFL a headache by honoring his conscience, took his knee to protest police excesses, and didn’t need to be called a son of a bitch to do so. He was later, of course, part of the medley of all the other insults that followed, but he didn’t kneel because he was insulted. He knelt because other were, and worse.
But the beauty of these days is that we take any idea or action and immediately change its meaning to fit our own prejudices. Kaepernick’s message was too nuanced for a lot of people’s facilities because they value symbols more than people, but nobody doesn’t understand being called a son of a bitch by a boss you hate.
So the new NSOBL is just starting to coalesce. There will not be a shortage of reasons for players to find their voice and conscience, and to break the bonds that required them to ask permission before speaking or thinking. If they are as they purport to be, they will remember that change happens with a single son of a bitch.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in


In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.