Ray Ratto

Just how far will LaVar Ball go with UCLA shoplifting case?


Just how far will LaVar Ball go with UCLA shoplifting case?

It seems that the Great UCLA Sunglass Theft case has been solved to everyone’s satisfaction, and the three Bruins players who were held by Chinese authorities for allegedly trying to lift some designer sunglasses have been presented a potentially severe lesson they must still decide to learn.
Now the issue at hand is whether the whole sordid mess will be fodder for LiAngelo Ball’s father and the family’s reality show.
We get into dodgy areas when the subject is the parenting of others, but the indiscretion, which LaVar has declared “ain’t that big a deal,” involves not only his son but two other young men. In short, telling this tale to a hungry group of living room voyeurs may be a dandy teaching moment for LiAngelo, but the two other players, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, have guardians as well, and with some say-so about how much of their children’s embarrassment is suitable for reality television.
It certainly isn’t up to LaVar Ball, which means his thirst for fame and fortune has at least this one limit, or should.
This isn’t about protecting the guilty, either. For one, the Chinese legal process has not yet completed its course, so nobody’s guilty of anything yet.  This is about one parent’s ability and/or choice to embarrass someone else’s children for a television show that in this case works against their better interests.
Now Ball The Elder may see the wisdom in keeping the entire sunglass story out of the show, or he may edit Riley and Hill out of the show for their protection. Or he might decide they are all fair game for the brand, in which case the diminishing interest and curiosity in the Ball Empire will shrink even more. Using a film crew as an instrument for bullying, if that is the correct legal term, breaks any number of social contracts, and maybe a few of our remaining privacy laws as well.
I’d say this will be an interesting case, but as so few things surrounding the Ball family actually are, I prefer to think it will be interesting for a remarkably few people. And I’ve been wrong before on his staying power.

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?”