Ray Ratto

Only answer to what we learned from NFL's preseason: Ask in 22 weeks


Only answer to what we learned from NFL's preseason: Ask in 22 weeks

Now that the NFL’s practice games are over and we are done enduring the “What did we learn from . . . ?” pieces in which we learn that we didn’t learn anything at all except that injuries are still bad, what will football fans do with the next 10 days?
Well, 49er fans, just to name a group at random, will muscle up their love for Kyle Shanahan because he’s really all they have for the moment. They can’t fully trust Brian Hoyer, they don’t know what to make of a draft class people like only on conjecture, and 2-14 is a deep ditch from which to climb. Shanahan has been praised as one of the superior offensive minds of the day, which reminds us that Lane Kiffin has also been praised as one of the superior offensive minds of the day. Correlation is not causation, though, and Shanahan might indeed be the face of a franchise that has only Jed York’s, and we see from the Levi’s Air Force how well that plays.
Raider fans, on the other hand, are watching their window of opportunity rise while wondering if they are destined to sneak in one last Lombardi Trophy in the last three years of their existence or forever be known as the Quebec Nordiques of the NFL – building a champion just in time for it to be crowned in another city.
Derek Carr is playing just the way you would expect the second highest-paid quarterback in the NFL would, and the offense is tasked with averaging 34 points a game just to stay ahead of its still too-generous defense, thus reaching the old AFL nostalgia freaks who are entering their dotage.
But we knew all this going into the practice season, and given that Roger Goodell keeps trying to shorten the practice season to add more games that count (because CTE is good for you, damn it!), the real thing we’re learning is that we are choosing as media conglomerates to lavish more attention on less important things based solely on the fact that people need their needles.
So enjoy the holiday weekend and strap in for the next 21 weeks of Armageddon rehearsals in which we will learn how quickly Kyle Shanahan’s image ages and how close to the New England Patriots the Raiders really are, because those are the questions that will be asked most often because they are ones that most completely will define their years.
And only then, 22 weeks from now, when we are asked what we learned, we can answer with a straight face, “Only 81 days until the draft!” because we like it on the hamster wheel and have no intention of ever getting off.

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?”