Ray Ratto

With Jackson's firing, McKenzie makes immediate waves


With Jackson's firing, McKenzie makes immediate waves

Reggie McKenzie cleared his throat, and the Raiders world came tumbling down.

RELATED: Raiders fire Hue Jackson
This is what Mark Davis wanted, which is why he brought McKenzie in as general manager, and McKenzie wanted his own man as head coach, and his own people beside and below him.Put another way, this could well be the end of The Old Weird Raiders.

In firing Hue Jackson, McKenzie made it clear that nothing is safe in the building which is the mandate he was given. As the first team general manager in, well, damned near forever, McKenzie was empowered to pull the Raiders into a less quirky universe in which they were the only inhabitants, and rather than dance around the office politics, he dove into them with a two-footed cannonball splash.He took out Jackson, who was Amy Trasks right hand, and if this signals a power struggle between Davis and Trask, or between McKenzie and Trask, McKenzieDavis is up, 1-nil.More likely, Trask acknowledged the chain of command as she always has, and acceded to Jacksons dismissal, barely months after he became the de facto Al in a building that had none at all.Now Al has been replaced, by his son, and Jackson has been replaced, by McKenzie. And Carson Palmers world got slightly more jittery although with his contract, the only way he would be in true danger would be if Marvin Lewis quit Cincinnati to come west.Most important, the Raiders are going to start resembling all the other NFL teams in technology, in coaching, in scouting methods, in understanding what is worth fighting over and what is not. The days of personal idiosyncrasy is over, because Reggie McKenzie learned his chops in the most orthodox place of all Green Bay.And he just got the first item on his demand list. His own people, starting with the head coach.Jacksons tenure is a rich yet weird one, and it had every chance to go completely off the rails when Davis stepped in and hired the general manager who was once Hue. As a result, his next head coaching job, if it ever comes, will seem a lot smaller, a lot less heady, and a lot more limiting than this one did. But already he is just another line on a long list of coaches in the Oakland 2.0 period of Raider history. It may turn out that he is regarded as less odd than even Lane Kiffin, though only history will tell.But this is about Reggie McKenzie now, and his first big stomp in a field that until today had only Al Davis footprints.

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?”