Ray Ratto

Hats off to the famous, but healing Houston will come from everyday heroes


Hats off to the famous, but healing Houston will come from everyday heroes

There is a sudden burst of NFL owners deciding to give $1 million to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, the latest two being Baltimore’s Steve Bisciotti and Detroit’s Martha Ford. These acts of generosity are not to be dismissed because Houston and the entire western gulf coast need all the help, both monetarily and otherwise.
But while we are counting the pledges as though this was a tribute to the Jerry Lewis telethons (and wondering why the 131 people who control the 147 North America pro franchises in the five major sports didn’t just decide via conference call to do a million apiece), we might want to remind ourselves that money given by celebrities, while indisputably noble and needed, is not how the resuscitation of Houston will be accomplished.
So here’s to the folks on the ground who wrangled boats and opened shelters and ferried in food and drinkable water and are getting the power back up and are organizing the actual day-to-day cleanup, and the people who live in all the towns that need rebuilding. They’re the ones who will get this done, and lacking famous names doesn’t mean they aren’t the ones doing the most important work.
Hats off to J.J. Watt, to be sure. He used his gift – being famous – to be a provider. And to Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, who gave $4 million, then jacked his donation to $10 million two days later. And Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, who tossed in $4 million himself. And to all the other “name” names who made their money count rather than making it just to count it. I’m sure there is a list somewhere with all of the givers, and here’s hoping you can find yours somewhere (hint hint).
But in the end, the ones who will make the area whole again are the ones hip-deep in water, the hands and feet and vehicles and buildings who gave freely of their time and possessions. Here’s hoping this is a better and more complete job than the one in New Orleans for Katrina.
And here’s hoping that the federal government, no matter who is running it, finally decides to do something with FEMA rather than use it as a political stalking horse to reward friends and punish enemies. Here’s hoping it is so lavishly funded that the next victims of nature’s sharp hand can feel confident that there is more than just the kindnesses of rich strangers keeping them from desolation. Because that, ultimately, is what government is for.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”