Warriors the establishment, and the field the barbarians at the gate

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AP

Warriors the establishment, and the field the barbarians at the gate

Programming note: Warriors-Rockets coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm on NBC Sports Bay Area, and continues immediately after the final buzzer.

The NBA offseason ended as it began – with someone burning money for our amusement.

The San Antonio Spurs re-upped center LaMarcus Aldridge, with whom head coach Gregg Popovich had an off-season hug-it-out to repair what seemed to be a fraying relationship.

Thus, after the Golden State Warriors boatraced the field, the NBA responded by firing out $1.942 billion in free agent signings. This proves yet again that the problem with rising salaries in sports is not the fault of the players, but of the owners.

And that contreacts and player movement are an increasingly powerful turn-on in a sport that is facing an existential crisis.

Namely, how to build suspense into a season that looks foreordained for the Warriors without hoping for catastrophic injuries. Indeed, as the Warriors open with Houston tonight, there is far more national buzz around the new-look Rockets than the seemingly invulnerable Warriors.

[SHILLER: Draymond responds to D'Antoni's 'they're not gonna stop us either' claim]

It’s a bit like the old comic book conundrum – why was Wolverine a more compelling character than Superman?

Now this may be our fault as consumers for wanting something new to support our pathetically small attention spans. Or more intriguingly, being drawn to the flawed unknown rather than the excellent known.

But changing the American character is not an easy thing to do, as our most recent political developments have shown. We are who we are, and while we will watch the superb team every time, we will be more interested in the one that looks like it could blow itself to bits at any moment (Houston, or Cleveland, or Oklahoma City), or the long-downtrodden failure that suddenly looks like it might no longer be so downtrodden (Philadelphia, Minnesota, or maybe even Philadelphia again).

Or, weirdest of all, the team that used to be the standard, fell off the edge of the planet to the nation’s glee, and is just now showing signs of reconstruction (the Los Angeles Lakers).

Evidently what we want to say is that we like is change – violent, bizarre change, the crazier the narrative the better.

But here, we have the Golden State Warriors, who have chosen a far more conservative path – winning four of every five games, no matter what month, no matter what opponent, and winning nine of every 10 at home, no matter what month, no matter what opponent. And the measured eyeballs of media ratings say the Warriors are the bait behind which all other teams draft.

In short, the Warriors are the establishment, and the field is the barbarians at the gate. It’s just a matter how you feel about the barbarians, and the gate.

I know how the voting here would go. The rest of you are on your own, watching money getting thrown around in hope of some kind of regime change before the end of the decade.

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

NaVorro Bowman’s employment odyssey lasted three days, and he didn’t have to get his mailing address changed.

The one-year, $3 million deal he reportedly signed with Oakland Monday came after a fairly quiet weekend for all parties. It was an easy choice for him, since there is minimal disruption, and an easy choice for Oakland, which needs all the defensive expertise it can get and has players that Bowman’s diminishing speed cannot expose.

In other words, everyone ends up happy . . . unless Bowman suddenly improves to the point where John Lynch has some ‘splainin’ to do.

The Raiders and 49ers have often shared players, thus belying their often overblown rivalry. The convenience was too . . . well, convenient, and will not be in evidence once Las Vegas becomes an NFL city.

And lord known the Raiders need some new voices in a room that has seemingly gone stale as expectations start to brown into disappointment. Bowman brings an effervescence borne of deep playoff runs, without being too loud a voice in a room that needs to develop more permanent leadership.

As to how much any of this translates into improved defensive play, or just a better vibe coming from Oaktown, well, put it this way.

If Bowman can stanch that level of bleeding, he shouldn’t be playing, he should be an EMT.

But at least he won’t end his career with a sour meeting with the people who run his original team, and that must count for something.

Maybe.

To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun

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AP

To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun

The only thing you need to understand about Colin Kaepernick’s action against the NFL is this.

If he has paperwork proving that the owners conspired to keep him out of football, he wins. If he doesn’t, he almost certainly loses.

Oh, there’s a lot of gobbled-lawyerese in any court proceeding; that’s why lawyers lawyer.

But the fact is this: Kaepernick and/or his lawyers have to produce the smoking gun, as Marvin Miller did in the ‘80s collusion cases against Major League Baseball, In those, the owners conspired not to sign free agents, did so in writing, and got their hats blocked in court.

Then they did it again, and lost again. And then, clever fellows that they were, they did it a third time, and got caught once more.

Lesson learned: From that moment, collusion became a paperless enterprise. No smoke, no gun. No gun, no case. It couldn’t have been simpler.

Now you may try to apply logic like, “Brandon Weeden,” or “Brett Hundley,” or “the owners are . . .” And you may well be correct. In fact, you almost certainly are.

But being correct isn’t the same as proving it, and without proof, Kaepernick’s case is an excellent example of well-constructed circumstantial evidence that will amount to little. The bar for this is high, and like everything else in life, it requires receipts.

Therein lies Kaepernick’s problem. Unless, of course, he has the receipts – statements on tape, or written memoranda, or rogue texts. In that case, therein lies, the league’s problem.

It is hard to imagine that the 32 owners, with all the lawyers at their command, would be so stupid as to leave collectable evidence laying about, but that’s what people assumed in the ‘80s, too, and baseball had to pay $280 million for its carelessness.

Still, that isn’t way to bet. Barry Bonds filed a lawsuit along similar grounds when he couldn’t get work after being released by the Giants in 2007, and had no corroboration for what he suspected was a blackball against him for, well, for being Barry Bonds. So he lost.

And I suspect that is what we have here as well. Kaepernick’s suit risks nothing for him, as his NFL days are almost certainly over anyway, so he may as well have his day in court if not the field.

But if he has the goods and can present them coherently before a judge, we’ve got an entirely different game, and one more reminder that we are in bloodsport territory between owners and players now, and there are no rules.

Except that one about paperwork. That one never changes.