Ray Ratto

Waiting for the 'why' in Belcher tragedy

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Waiting for the 'why' in Belcher tragedy

It is hard to remember a story like Jovan Belchers without being stunned by how many details of its hideous end have been released so quickly.And how, when it all shakes out, well not be sure of what we think we know. For that, we need to remember Junior Seau.Through exhaustive reporting, most of it done by the Kansas City Star, we have a fairly comprehensive picture of a troubled athlete with relationship issues, financial issues, substance abuse issues, and despite help from the team, coping problems as the swirl of conflict overwhelmed him and caused him to kill the mother of his child and then himself.An autopsy may take weeks to sort out, but he may even have had trauma issues related to football. As yet, there is no evidence of that, as that would only come out in an autopsy, but we know not to blithely dismiss it as a potential cause any more.But until we know all there is to know, we are left in an odd sort of neithernor, where Belcher is not safe to be lionized OR demonized. Witnesses saw him kill Kasandra Perkins, which makes him a murderer. Witnesses saw him kill himself, which means he has left his child without parents. Witnesses have spoken of his ongoing struggles and how they overwhelmed him to the point where he could kill his girlfriend, then kiss her on the forehead and apologize, first to her and then to his mother.The details are sufficient that you can almost see the deeds in your minds eye. Unlike most killings, this was done without an attempt to conceal. It was one last attack upon the demons, then surrender to them.And it still doesnt make him a sympathetic figure. Indeed, the reaction to Belcher even in the NFL community, where mythmaking is king, has been muted. Though some in the industry tried to handle this merely as the death of a player, Tom Jackson of ESPN made a point to honor Perkins memory. The Chiefs held a moment of silence before Sundays game not for Belcher but for the victims of domestic violence.For once, everyone seemed to get it. Sort of.Because the back end of this has not yet been learned. The why. And yes, the why matters.What we have learned about trauma in football is that it doesnt hit only men in their 50s and 60s. It strikes when it strikes, and it is as capricious as it is cruel. The famous are not spared any more often than the anonymous.This is among the things that Seau taught us. He also taught us not to believe our first impressions about how easily the limelight distorts ones vision, comprehension and even sense of self.But ultimately, he taught us not to dismiss the possibility that football can kill just as easily as anything else. Again, we know nothing about Belcher except the outward manifestations of his anger and grief. He killed two people, and didnt try to get away with it, a level of despair so profound that it scares everyone around it.In other words, this may not be brain trauma-related. It may be just someone who, in vernacular, snapped so violently that he did the unthinkable, twice.But until we know what the autopsy tells us, we cannot know just how much to condemn the sinner, if at all. Condeming the sin is, of course, easy. It should be hated. It is.Junior Seau, though, showed us that the further back from the trigger we get, the more muddled the story becomes. Thanks to some dogged and sober reporting both in Kansas City and elsewhere, we have a very good handle on the what, where, when and how, and in remarkably quick time. As we said, it was a murder-suicide done in the open by a perpetratorvictim too overcome by events and circumstances to try to hide his deeds.The why, though, remains a very open question indeed. For that, we wait. It will seem like forever.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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

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AP

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?”