Ray Ratto

Where the Warriors players stand among the great...coaches?


Where the Warriors players stand among the great...coaches?

Once again, Steve Kerr’s official win total is at variance with reality. And once again, the actual coach – or in this case, coaches – are robbed of the official credit by pedants.

Kerr pulled out a time-honored gambit for a good team suffering from pre-All Star ennui and allowed the Golden State Warriors to coach themselves. There was little risk, of course, as the opponents, the Phoenix Suns, were bad, injured, and very casual about defense. It was a perfect feel-good moment for a team of veterans who needed something new to do.

So they did, with the predictable result. Warriors 129, Suns 83 – the fourth most lopsided win of the year by any team, and second-most by the Warriors.

So now Kerr’s record, currently listed as 251-52, a league-record .828 winning percentage (ahead of Milwaukee’s Joe Prunty, who is 8-2 in the wake of Jason Kidd’s firing in Milwaukee), can be debated again by small-minded types.

Like me.

There’s that troublesome 39-4 record amassed by Luke Walton which is still credited to Kerr. There’s also the complete omission of playoff games, in which Kerr is 47-15 . . . except there’s the 11 wins Mike Brown amassed in Kerr’s medical absence last year.

And now there is the new College of Coaches win – an homage of sorts to the Chicago Cubs’ loopy idea in the early ‘60s to eliminate the manager and rotate the job among a small group of old baseball hands. That was, like most things Cub of that era, a hilarious disaster.

In any event, Steve Kerr’s total record, which ought to be 298-67 (.816, still the best ever), is actually 247-63, or .796, making Prunty the greatest coaching mind in the history of the sport.

Except of course for Not Steve Kerr – who with Monday’s win is now 51-4, or .927. Now how does that not merit a mention in Springfield?

Hey, if we’re going to play with numbers, damn it, let’s play with numbers.

Kerr has been a good sport about all this nonsense, never failing to remind folks that people remind him. And Walton could use the boost, because his 49-88 (.358) suddenly becomes 88-92 (.489), and his place on the all-time percentage list from 216th to 108th. Hell, Mike Brown’s 11 playoff wins would take him past 400 (405-252, .616), and that’s a nice round number that deserves marketing, too.

We bring this up only to remind you that the most technologically advanced nation ever, fueled by an obsession with record-keeping and metric-strangling, continues to grapple unsuccessfully with a simple matter like applying a number to Kerr’s work. And now that he is being challenged at the top of the all-time coaches list by the crafty Prunty, this stuff should matter to you numerophiles. A man’s reputation is at stake here...or at least his place among his fellow coaches.

And damn it, Luke Walton, Mike Brown, Joe Prunty and now the Hamptons 5 Plus 7 deserve to know where they stand.

For the moment, the Pac-12 is the Mid-American Conference


For the moment, the Pac-12 is the Mid-American Conference

If you’re a progressive thinker, the only thing that can save the Pacific 12 Conference from the grossest form of humiliation is for one of the six schools it sent to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament – Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State – to make a deep run. In Stanford’s case, to become the first four-seed to win a title.

If you’re a more desperate type, it is to hope that Oregon, Stanford, USC or Washington wins the NIT. Nobody will know it, but we did say “desperate.” And if you need to get to Utah in the Women’s NIT . . .

Well, you get the point. The Pac 12 is the first conference to bow out of the NCAA Tournament before the first weekend since the Big 12 was first formed in 1996-7. And because nobody remembers this sort of stuff year to year, it wipes out last year, when the conference went 9-4 and sent Oregon to the Final Four.

And when we say “sent,” we mean no such thing. In the NCAA Tournament, and in college sports in general, teams achieve. Conferences just get their cut.

Still, as the college sports industry is still covered based on the rules of tribalism, where the keeping of scores breaks down by laundry first and then by affiliation, the Pac-12 has been historically God-awful, which for things referencing the deity is a considerable stretch. Not only did they send only three teams to the NCAA Tournament and saw them evaporate before Friday dawned, they were 1-8 in bowl games, the worst record of any major conference since forever.

Plus, there’s the FBI, plus there’s the ongoing sense that the Pac-12 is the last of the Power 5 and getting worse, plus there’s the fact that it isn’t in the Southeast or Midwest, where this stuff really matters.

But we noticed it on Thursday because people kept bringing it up, especially after Arizona was owned by Buffalo despite having the putative top draft pick in DeAndre Ayton and specifically because a Sean Miller-coached team was so poor defensively.

And now comes the fun of watching the 12 conference university presidents panic as the other presidents make fun of them in the mahogany playground in which they all play. And don’t think that doesn’t happen. College sports is a big business played by kids for the financial benefit of older kids who keep score on things like this.

So the women start Saturday, and in a just and fair society that would get sufficient attention and play enough games to make the conference members feel better about themselves. We don’t have that society yet, so for the moment, the Pac-12 is the Mid-American Conference, and won’t get a chance to prove otherwise until December.

But hey, at least their task force on the structural future of college basketball was received . . . well, with a tepidness unknown to mankind. So yeah, they're on a hell of a roll.

NFL coaches live the life of praise players in public, purge in private


NFL coaches live the life of praise players in public, purge in private

Jon Gruden’s arrival made Marshawn Lynch expendable.
Oh, sure this will be listed on Doug Martin’s legacy, as his new deal with the Oakland Raiders makes Lynch a likely early casualty in the Gruden Part Deux Era, but just as Jack Del Rio was hired by Mark Davis as a sop to the fan base he was planning to abandon, so too was Lynch, and finally Gruden.
And this just unchecks a thrice-checked box. Lynch as a face of the franchise was Mark Davis’ idea, he was one of the faces of a 6-10 team, and Gruden as the new face of the franchise has other ideas about whose face has the force of law.
At least that’s one superficial and probably misleading read from Martin’s signing, as the now-former Tampa Bay running back basically takes Lynch’s spot on Gruden’s first roster. It is a football decision (Martin may still have more tread), it is a cultural decision (Gruden isn’t all that warm or fuzzy with the employees) and it’s a new boss decision (Gruden wants his guys, not someone else’s).
But it also reminds us that coaches are liars unless forced into the truth, and when Gruden lauded Lynch a month ago, veteran observers could hear his fingers crossing themselves. After all, the rule of thumb for any public figure who isn’t either crazy or narcisstic is always “praise in public, purge in private,” and people who know Gruden well couldn’t see him nuzzling up to Lynch only to discipline him later for all the things he was allowed to do under Del Rio.
The same logic is being applied to the attraction for Jordy Nelson as a replacement for Michael Crabtree – well, except the mileage part. Gruden is recreating the Raiders in his image, which not only puts an interesting ellipsis on his own resume but puts all but a few players from the old regime (or regimes) in danger of being relocated.
And while we’re at it, the same is true for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, who watched center Daniel Kilgore get a new deal last month and traded to Miami this month – giving a fresh interpretation to the notion of being day-to-day. In the NFL, everyone is, right up to the door of the owner’s suite.
Whether the Martin signing is a good idea or not remains to be determined, of course, because the future has an odd way of not obeying the needs of the present, and March’s good idea can become October’s mistake. But Gruden reminded us yet again that coaches aren’t to be taken seriously when they say something in public because they don’t regard anything they say as binding. Every answer is simply a placeholder until it has to be changed, and that’s a valuable lesson for us to remember the next time we think a coach is leveling with us on anything. They live in an autocorrect world, and when it comes to taking them at their word, we should remember that.