What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?


What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?

Without speaking for Andrew Bogut, let me guess for you what he’s thinking right now.

“I hate my ankle. I hate my foot for making my ankle necessary. I hate watching my new team win without me. Well, not the winning part – the without-me part. And I wonder if when I come back if I’ll screw up the chemistry and make it worse. I mean, I came here to help build something, and the frame is being put up with me in civvies. This sucks.”

Yes, the Warriors are off to their best start in 42 years – 14-7, already a winning record on a seven-game road trip with three stops still to make. Wins over good teams, and wins over bad ones when the mind can easily wander. A devotion to defense that already puts this team in the top 10 in franchise history, and a toughness that has evaded this team (or being avoided by it) since the mid-70s.

Now it is the stated position of this squalid little corner of the Internet that this will be the last piece of bric-a-brac on the Warrior bandwagon. I respect history and basketball logic too much to leap to any conclusions based on the heaps of data that only 25.9 percent of the season can provide.

In other words, I will proclaim them a playoff team when there is an “X” in front of their name in the standings and not before. I am nothing if not stubborn.

But this is not about me, thank the gods, goddesses and godlings. This is about Bogut, and how hard it must be to watch. It would be hard for him to watch if they were 7-14, knowing he cannot help, but it is a different kind of Rubik’s cube knowing that repairs are being effected without him.

And it must be worse still not knowing what kind of alchemical changes will result from him returning to the lineup.

David Lee, who would be most affected by Bogut’s return, has never been better as a Warrior. Carl Landry, the undersized power forward, has been far more power than undersized. Jarrett Jack has provided a level of backcourt spine that has helped Stephen Curry realize a level of play closer to the top end of his potential.

And for all this, the best test might have been Saturday in Washington, against the uber-wretched Wizards. Coming off a tough and gratifying win in Brooklyn for coach Mark Jackson, playing before the fam and friends, they had every reason to lay a dozen eggs in Washington. And they nearly did, winning only 101-97, overcoming a shameful end mostly through tough-minded play that the Warriors have not exhibited in the lives of least a full generation of Warrior fans.

In other words, they are rolling in December as they have not rolled since Richard Nixon was President and Watergate was some made-up land in a science fiction paperback. And the key to their biggest trade in years has played one-tenth as many minutes as Klay Thompson, one-fifth as many as Festus Ezeli, and half as many as Andris Biedrins.

This may be the best way for the Warriors to do this, truth be told – for no explicable reason, and despite the run of logic. By surprise is the best way to win, and if they are doing it too quickly to keep the fan base grounded, they are also doing it in ways that make them almost more endearing.

In the meantime, Andrew Bogut sits and stews internally. He hates his ankle, and he hates his foot, and that won’t change until they stop acting up. But it isn’t the pain that hurts – it’s the not knowing whether he can add to the forming portrait, or change it for the worse while trying to make it better. Adding sometimes is subtracting and subtracting adding. And sometimes, Bogut knows and hopes, adding is just adding. Alchemy is unpredictable that way.

Just as much as ankles.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.