Ray Ratto

What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?

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What will Bogut's return mean to Warriors?

Without speaking for Andrew Bogut, let me guess for you what he’s thinking right now.

“I hate my ankle. I hate my foot for making my ankle necessary. I hate watching my new team win without me. Well, not the winning part – the without-me part. And I wonder if when I come back if I’ll screw up the chemistry and make it worse. I mean, I came here to help build something, and the frame is being put up with me in civvies. This sucks.”

Yes, the Warriors are off to their best start in 42 years – 14-7, already a winning record on a seven-game road trip with three stops still to make. Wins over good teams, and wins over bad ones when the mind can easily wander. A devotion to defense that already puts this team in the top 10 in franchise history, and a toughness that has evaded this team (or being avoided by it) since the mid-70s.

Now it is the stated position of this squalid little corner of the Internet that this will be the last piece of bric-a-brac on the Warrior bandwagon. I respect history and basketball logic too much to leap to any conclusions based on the heaps of data that only 25.9 percent of the season can provide.

In other words, I will proclaim them a playoff team when there is an “X” in front of their name in the standings and not before. I am nothing if not stubborn.

But this is not about me, thank the gods, goddesses and godlings. This is about Bogut, and how hard it must be to watch. It would be hard for him to watch if they were 7-14, knowing he cannot help, but it is a different kind of Rubik’s cube knowing that repairs are being effected without him.

And it must be worse still not knowing what kind of alchemical changes will result from him returning to the lineup.

David Lee, who would be most affected by Bogut’s return, has never been better as a Warrior. Carl Landry, the undersized power forward, has been far more power than undersized. Jarrett Jack has provided a level of backcourt spine that has helped Stephen Curry realize a level of play closer to the top end of his potential.

And for all this, the best test might have been Saturday in Washington, against the uber-wretched Wizards. Coming off a tough and gratifying win in Brooklyn for coach Mark Jackson, playing before the fam and friends, they had every reason to lay a dozen eggs in Washington. And they nearly did, winning only 101-97, overcoming a shameful end mostly through tough-minded play that the Warriors have not exhibited in the lives of least a full generation of Warrior fans.

In other words, they are rolling in December as they have not rolled since Richard Nixon was President and Watergate was some made-up land in a science fiction paperback. And the key to their biggest trade in years has played one-tenth as many minutes as Klay Thompson, one-fifth as many as Festus Ezeli, and half as many as Andris Biedrins.

This may be the best way for the Warriors to do this, truth be told – for no explicable reason, and despite the run of logic. By surprise is the best way to win, and if they are doing it too quickly to keep the fan base grounded, they are also doing it in ways that make them almost more endearing.

In the meantime, Andrew Bogut sits and stews internally. He hates his ankle, and he hates his foot, and that won’t change until they stop acting up. But it isn’t the pain that hurts – it’s the not knowing whether he can add to the forming portrait, or change it for the worse while trying to make it better. Adding sometimes is subtracting and subtracting adding. And sometimes, Bogut knows and hopes, adding is just adding. Alchemy is unpredictable that way.

Just as much as ankles.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about

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USATSI

The four Super Bowl storylines everybody will be talking about

The Monday after the conference championships is devoted to replaying the games we already saw, but Tuesday is devoted to the assembling of the narratives that we will weary of no later than Friday.

And while football purists and gamblers, two demographics on the opposite ends of the Moebius strip of degeneracy, will cheerily break the game down to its molecular level, the rest of us will resort to a few tired carthorses to get us to the start of our individual Super Bowl parties.

Starting with THE INEVITABILITY OF THE PATRIOTS

This will be an argument with no resolution, as those who see history as preordination will see New England as invulnerable, pointing to their record, Philadelphia’s record, and the comfort of the mortal lock. But if it helps you maintain suspense, the Patriots have never won, or even played in, a Super Bowl with a margin as high as a touchdown – the margins have been 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 6 in overtime. In short, Bill Belichick’s brain, while always impressive, has never been an overwhelming presence against John Fox, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin, Pete Carroll or Dan Quinn.

In other words, luck matters, and luck is good.

Next is THE LEGACY

This is ridiculous because the Patriots are in painting-the-gold-bar-gold territory. People long ago made up their minds on Belichick, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and the rest of the shifting cast of characters – they are either brilliant exemplars, or nefarious cheaters, or both. That’s the great thing about the Patriots – they can be heroes, villains and metaphors for 21st Century America, depending on what you decide. But their place as football figures has long ago been decided, this game will change none of that, and the only thing left is what to carve on the statues.

Third is AMERICA HATES THE PATRIOTS AND WANTS THE EAGLES TO WIN

There are lots of Americas out there, as we are learning every day, and more people probably are rooting for the Eagles just to see something different. That’s not the way to bet, I grant you, but the best way to handle these next two weeks if you do not wear either New England or Philadelphia jerseys is to say nothing. These are two fan bases with reputations, if you know what we mean, and even if you come across gentle souls with a rooting interest, play the percentages. Even the nice ones can turn at any moment.

And finally, JIMMY GAROPPOLO. This discussion only matters of Bob Kraft cops to telling Belichick he ordered him to be moved. Which he won't, damn his eyes. And if Brady looks good next Sunday, they'll take credit for a brilliant move that saved the franchise because history always works best in the rear-view mirror.

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

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AP

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

The voting for the NBA All-Star starters was properly instructive to both Adam Silver and the public at large about exactly what the game is meant to be – which is why I totally get their decision not to televise the All-Star draft.

It’s really a personality test for everyone involved, for good and ill.

I think having a draft nobody can see is idiotic, stealing an idea the NHL used and then discarded years ago and then not employing the reason why they did it to begin with, but if the All-Star Game is really an expression of ego, then the next best thing to having no draft is having one nobody can see.

The All-Star Game really only functions as a coronation of the elite by the elite, a festival of mutual backslapping friend-rewarding that has nothing to do with the playing of the game, or the moving of the T-shirts or jerseys or expensive hotel rooms. This is about stratifying the player pool so that everyone knows who’s who and what’s what.

Everything else is irrelevant, and the draft reinforces that. Kevin Durant not wanting to be a captain is strategic thinking by a future industrialist. Stephen Curry not minding being a captain is the perfect who-cares statement for someone who doesn’t mind playing the game because objecting to it takes too much work. LeBron James being a captain is the perfect political muscle-flexing that fits his personality.

Damian Lillard already assuming that he won’t be named to the team is a statement about his being considered the perpetual one-level-down guard. Russell Westbrook being named and then controlling the ball as he would in a regular season game is a statement about how he views his place as a disruptor. And on and on and on – the All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills.

Does televising the draft help us understand the actual meaning of the event? Maybe, but the NBA would prefer you consider it a festival of the game itself, which it plainly isn’t. Proof, you say? 192-182 in 2017. 196-173 in 2016. 163-158 in 2015. 163-155 in 2014. There hasn’t been a normal-looking score in 15 years, which means it’s not a game at all.

That isn’t the news, though. It’s that the NBA has made this is a three-day event – the day the captains and starters are named, the day the reserves are picked, and the day that teams are chosen. And every bit of it is about the reaction to that. There is no show thereafter, and the players know it. They care about the selections, because that’s how they’re keeping score.

So go team. Whatever the hell that means.