Ray Ratto

In battle with ALS, Dwight Clark as brilliant as when he made 'The Catch'

In battle with ALS, Dwight Clark as brilliant as when he made 'The Catch'

Dwight Clark’s death Monday was not merciful. ALS is never merciful. It is cruel and remorseless and spares nobody.

But the 49er great, the 1A to Joe Montana’s 1 in The Catch, the most iconic moment in team history, was given the closest thing one can hope for with ALS – a dignified passing.

Clark died in Montana only a few days after entering hospice, and his family and selected loved ones were with him at the end. It is the best that ALS allows, and Clark had been given the best that could be provided.

Clark’s time from diagnosis to death was relatively brief as these things go, less than three years from the moment he first noticed his left hand was weakening, but he wedged as much living and reminiscing with friends and teammates as those months granted. He chose to be public on his own behalf and constructive in service to others through his story, and in both those endeavors he succeeded as much as the disease took from him.

And though he will be remembered most for that leaping grab over the agonized look of Dallas’ Everson Walls that propelled the 49ers to their first Super Bowl, his transition should not be forgotten, for its dignity and bravery against a disease that allows precious little of either.

Clark was one of Bill Walsh’s most famous finds during the construction of the 49er dynasty – he was scouting Clemson quarterback Steve Fuller at the time but fixated on Fuller’s target during the workout, a lanky, surehanded receiver whom Walsh lifted from the usually earned obscurity of the 10th round and developed into Montana’s first dynamic weapon. 1981 was not only his most famous year but his most prolific statistical one (85 catches, 1,105 yards, though he had 60 catches for 913 in the strike-shortened 1982 season), and though he remained a useful target for Montana until the end of his career in 1987, he eventually lost his role of most preferred to Jerry Rice by 1984 – a transition he accepted with both good humor and logic.

He later joined 49er executive Carmen Policy in Cleveland and served as general manager with the Browns, though then as now the Browns were too difficult a task to complete, and he returned to San Francisco as he arrived, one of the most beloved 49ers ever. He was an ambassador and a loyal servant for the club until he passed, and he remained one of former owner Eddie DeBartolo’s favorite players through it all; DeBartolo saw to a number of the details of his care once he was diagnosed.

But Clark knew when he was told in 2015 that the end of his glorious ride was coming. ALS remains undefeated, and what it allows its victims is a test of grace in the face of certain defeat. In this, he was as brilliant as he was that January day in early 1982, when he once and forever became part of the firmament of the 49ers. The end was not merciful, because it never is, but it did not steal Dwight Clark’s essence. That he held until today, when he passed it on to thousands of people who remember him as a player, executive, agreeable and generous companion and general eminence.

The Kings are the Kings, Myers can't swindle in second round and thesaurus reigns supreme

The Kings are the Kings, Myers can't swindle in second round and thesaurus reigns supreme

When the biggest news to emanate from the NBA Draft is Adrian Wojnarowski’s thesaurus, you have a bad draft.
When the second biggest news is Sacramento bowing to the wishes of Luka Doncic (and the Kings did just that, we are sure) as another reminder of its place in the basketball universe, you have a bad draft.
When the third biggest news is that nobody wanted to talk to Bob Myers about selling their second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors because . . . well, just because, you have a bad draft.
When the fourth biggest news is which draftee’s mom is the hottest, you have a bad (and oddly creepy) draft.
And when the most compelling stories coming out of the draft are still LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Dwight Howard, you have a bad draft.
In ten years you may find, of course, that this was actually a 2009-level (as in great) draft for future stars, and all the other stuff will no longer matter. But that is the case of most things these days – they seem like big deals for about 24 hours and end up being nothing of import.
In short, as entertainment, this NBA Draft was that rare flatliner. The league is apparently much better at roasting money, the time for which begins shortly, or maybe our tastes as voyeurs are changing.
The Warriors got in Jacob Evans, the 6-6 wing from Cincinnati, a sort of poor man’s Draymond Green (which is a compliment, and an almost rave review for a 28th pick), but the greater development Warriors-wise was Bob Myers’ inability to sweet-talk a second-rounder out of money-hungry competitors. This may be a sign that nobody wants to touch the Warriors as a trading partner, at least until they are no longer considered enemies of the people, or maybe people are coveting draft choices more than they used to do.
As for the Kings, they went for Marvin Bagley III largely because he was the highest rated player who went for them. Doncic was largely considered the superior choice, and Michael Porter’s troublesome back worried too many teams (he ended up falling to 14 and Denver), but Bagley wanted to be the second pick if he couldn’t be first, which made his appeal to the Kings clear.
But it did nothing to dispel the largely held notion by many players and/or agents that Sacramento is to be avoided by any means necessary, and not because the city is demonstrably worse than any of about 20 other NBA outposts. It is because the perception remains that ultimately, the Kings are gonna King.
Thus ends another NBA show, with minimal effervescence or lasting effect. It was a great draft for the purist, if that matters to you, but the truth remains that LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are going to blot out the sun this summer. It is a victory for the status quo.
That is, unless you have a rooting interest in the Adrian Wojnarowski-fought-the-law story line, and frankly, you shouldn’t.

Yelp reviews for Ayesha Curry's restaurant in Houston just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom


Yelp reviews for Ayesha Curry's restaurant in Houston just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom

There is always a good reason to despair for humanity these days. Humanity is, on the whole, performing at a Baltimore Orioles/Arizona Coyotes/New York Jets level, and needs a serious makeover if it is to last through the current millennium.

The latest example of this is in Houston, where local Rockets fans have decided to flood Yelp, the only populist reviewing site, with reviews slagging the new barbecue restaurant opening in town that is owned by megachef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry, wife of Him.

The key here being that the restaurant hasn’t actually opened yet, so these reviews are meant only to ruin a business run by someone whose husband has a nice jump shot and who otherwise has never meant anyone any harm (although I can’t vouch for the coleslaw).

This is a gentler modification of the campaign by Kentucky fans who tried to ruin referee John Higgins’ roofing company in Nebraska in 2017, and then doubled down with death threats, because Kentucky basketball is that kind of a thing.

Now Warriors fans, who have the same problems with excessive free time that Rockets fans evidently do, have flooded Yelp with five-star reviews of the restaurant, which is no more open for their expertise than that of the Houston fans. In other words, this is one more example of how technology and democracy are wasted on people like us.

The argument has been advanced that Curry somehow invited this by opening up a restaurant in a town that has been bedeviled by her husband’s accuracy for four years now, but this is grandiloquent nonsense. The Kentucky fans showed us that state boundaries are no deterrent to such hate-fueled Internet hijinks, and I have unwavering faith that Rockets fans would have done this if she and Mina had opened their restaurant on the surface of Io. And that Warrior fans would have responded similarly.

Now maybe this is an old guy’s argument (and in the spirit of transparency, I have never met Ayesha Curry or eaten a morsel of her food-based products, so I am aggressively indifferent to her future, good or ill, as a pan jockey), but back in the day the traditional way of objecting to a restaurant was not to patronize it, and when sufficiently aggrieved to give it bad word of mouth. But that was always in response to a poor meal, inadequate service or hygiene shortcomings. That was presumably the idea behind Yelp – to widen the sensible review base.

But in all such cases, the establishment had actually plated a meal and delivered it to the customer before people took to their keyboards or not-so-smartphones to register their views. This strategy is just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom, and is one of the reasons why people who take the extreme view that fans suck are not entirely off-base.

The clear solution here would be for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey to attend the grand opening of the joint and chow down in earnest. They don’t have to rave about it, or even comment about it. They just need to be seen doing so, and when asked by a member of TMZ’s guerilla restaurant desk after the meal what they thought, they should say this:

“We are pro-Houston, and we are pro-business. We want everyone’s businesses to succeed, including this one. If you like us, and you do, you’ll leave these folks be, to make their eatery survive or fail on the merits. Oh, and be sure to try the brisket.”

Reason: We wouldn’t want Warrior fans to get the idea that Fertitta’s restaurants should be similarly attacked, or that they should start smearing his casinos simply because he owns the Rockets. Because once this starts, it never stops, because our culture has taken the greatest information delivery system and turned it into a gigantic hate farm.

There. Wasted lecture over. And yes, by all means, do try the brisket, even if your outraged sensibilities about the Western Conference Final allow only to do take-out.