How much do Warriors and Capitals fans have in common?

How much do Warriors and Capitals fans have in common?

The Washington Capitals have shown us the true relationship between teams and their fans, and neither should necessarily be crazy about the view.

In losing yet another playoff series . . . another playoff series before the conference final . . . another seventh game . . . the Capitals have been declared as proud members of the Chokers Club, outpointing all other perpetually not-quite-good-enough maybe since the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And because the Caps as players and the Caps as fans must by rule of law view this latest failure, a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, completely differently, they must view each other with greater suspicion.

Here are the raw facts: the Capitals have existed for 42 years and made the playoffs 27 times. They have won no Stanley Cups, and played for only one. They have lost one conference final, 11 second rounds and 14 first rounds, and been blown out earlier than they believed they should be in nine of the past 10 years.

And fans remember every cruel cut. There are only two players – Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom – who played on all those teams, so that the weight of all that history lands on only them and not the other players, but the fans know all of it and define their Caps experience through all of it.

Players? They come and go, except of course for Ovechkin and Backstrom. They disavow the history they have contributed to, and the fans want them to feel their pain, their way, through their prism.

Of such dichotomies do teams and fans part ways, usually in anger.

By way of comparison, Warriors fans have often been upheld as among the best in sports because they loved a series of horrific teams and stuck out the lean decades for what they are getting now, a potentially epochal organization.

But their circumstances are different because they have actually had one disappointing playoff series in the last 41 years, two if you want to count the 2014 first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers – and that series, last year’s championship, was quickly papered over by their successful acquisition of Kevin Durant.

In other words, it’s easy to be a Warrior fan. Caps fans, on the other hand, have had a lot of teaspoons of success when they have promised themselves ladles of it, and they need to blame someone for their unrequited love.

Guess who that’s going to be.

Now this is a generalization as these things must be. Most Caps fans will re-up for another run next year, fully knowing what is likely to happen.

But they will also look at their team with more jaundiced eyes because in their hearts they will suspect if not absolutely know that the players run from the team’s history as the fans are forced to endure it. The mostly mythical sense of community between fan and team is at quiet war with itself in Washington because the town wants the players to feel their decade of pain while the players want to limit their pain to this one series, and forget the history that is now its own creature.

That doesn’t work, not in the faux-romantic way sports is supposed to work. The Brooklyn experience has been much romanticized 60 years on because everyone knows that there’s the payoff in 1955, but also because every Dodger failure of that decade came at the hands of another New York team and fans of that era could do battle with each other in defense of their own.

Caps fans have none of that. Despite the idea that the Pittsburgh Penguins are their bête noire, they have also lost to the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers in the past 10 years. And despite the sense that they can’t win Game 7s, they beat the New York Islanders two years ago in seven and Boston in 2012.

No, it’s the broad tapestry of failure that the fans get, and that the players want to deny. It’s the fans’ sense of predestination fighting with the players’ sense of one-off events. And they can look at each other and say in unison for very different reasons, “You just don’t get it.”

Now there may be a point where the Caps break through all of it, probably now that nobody expects it, and they will be able to hug it out with the customers and laugh at the hard times – kind of the way old Warriors have come to grips with their few playoff series and long stretches of bilious treacle.

But for now it’s too soon, and too raw. Too many Caps fans speak the language of a decade, and too few Caps want to speak with them on those terms. They are like two people who speak different languages and are probably happier doing so, because knowing what the other is thinking can only lead to a bar fight.

How Donald Trump started war with sports as 'the greatest mirror for America'

How Donald Trump started war with sports as 'the greatest mirror for America'

OAKLAND -- As President Donald Trump lurches closer to certified insanity, he is unwittingly doing the country a great service that, should we survive his dangerously whimsical term, will bring us closer to realizing our potential.

He’s unifying the previously disconnected and energizing the formerly apathetic. He’s even shaming some of those previously beyond shame.

It is because of Trump’s rage, unleashed in a span of less than 24 hours, that the NBA champion Warriors were more united Saturday morning than they were Friday afternoon.

After a speech in Alabama urging NFL owners on Friday to fire any “son of a bitch” who dared to protest peacefully to shine a light on injustices, Trump woke up Saturday and turned his Twitter ire upon Stephen Curry and the Warriors, conceivably the most wholesome representatives of American sports.

“That’s not what leaders do,” Curry said after practice Saturday.

“We know we’re in a fight,” Warriors center David West said. “And we’re going to continue to fight for our right to be human beings.”

But by advocating the job loss of peaceful protesters and then informing the Warriors they are not welcome at the White House -- because Curry said he’s not in favor of going -- we can only hope Trump has flung open a door of activism that never closes.

Trump’s radical combo ignited mighty blasts of blowback from players and coaches and commissioners of the NBA and NFL.

Among the many NBA figures issuing statements in one form or another, with varying degrees of condemnation: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, the players association and commissioner Adam Silver.

“The amount of support I saw around the league this morning was amazing,” Curry said.

Among the many NFL figures who were moved to comment: Seahawks players Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, Broncos lineman Max Garcia, 49ers owner Jed York, New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Packers boss Mark Murphy, the players association and commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trump has, in short, started a war with American sports.

His strike began with the comments made Friday night that were directed at Colin Kaepernick and others who have declined to stand for the anthem. Trump’s aggression intensified Saturday when he went after Curry in the morning and Goodell in the afternoon.

How did we get here?

The Warriors on Friday announced their plan to meet as a team Saturday morning to decide whether they would accept from the White House the traditional invitation extended to championship teams. Though it was fairly certain they would not, they left open the slightest possibility. General manager Bob Myers had been in contact with White House.

Curry at the time said he, personally, did not wish to go, and then he carefully and patiently expounded on his reasons.

Trump responded, at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, to tell the world that the Warriors would not be invited and, moreover, that Curry’s resistance is the reason.

And all hell broke loose.

The Warriors came back Saturday afternoon with a statement that made clear there no longer would be a team meeting on the subject, that they were disappointed there was no open dialogue and that they will instead utilize their February visit to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values we embrace as an organization.”

“Not surprised,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Trump’s decision not to invite the Warriors to the White House. “He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”

Trump has fired upon every athlete in America. He is waking up this country in ways we’ve never seen or felt and, my goodness, he’s doing so at a level we’ve needed for centuries.

“Trump has become the greatest mirror for America,” West said. “My cousin . . . she brought that to me. Because there are a lot of things have been in the dark, hidden, and he’s just bold enough to put it out on ‘Front Street.’"

NBA commissioner Silver 'disappointed' Warriors not able to visit White House

NBA commissioner Silver 'disappointed' Warriors not able to visit White House

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2017 – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the Golden State Warriors not being invited to visit the White House:

“I was in favor of the team visiting the White House and thought it was a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the President.  I am disappointed that that will not happen.  More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues.”

NBA media services