Ray Ratto

The saga of Bryan Colangelo's Twitter fingers came at the perfect time


The saga of Bryan Colangelo's Twitter fingers came at the perfect time

Bryan Colangelo has come along at just the right time for an NBA Finals that needs that little extra “Huh?”
There is a sameness about these Finals that is unavoidable. When the same two teams meet this often, there is bound to be some overlap, even though the Cleveland cavaliers went to the trouble of remaking most of their team on the fly three months ago.
But more than that, there is little about this series which is actual doubt. The Warriors are mega-prohibitive favorites (minus-800 in most books after opening minus-1000 and rising to as high as minus-1200 in some places, and favored in Game 1 by a record 12 points). The nagging bone bruise on Andre Iguodala does not seem to be nearly as crippling to the Warriors’ hopes as it would have three years ago or even last year because LeBron James has so little help, especially since Kevin Love’s concussion doesn’t seem to be improving and further damages an already thin team.
In addition, everyone who has made a living contriving arguments about LeBron James’ place in the universe has finally surrendered to the two inevitable truths about him – he is that good, and comparing him to Michael Jordan incessantly has finally reached its sell-by date. The debate is over, and we have all concluded that it doesn’t matter. Even television producers have concluded that, and they are among the dimmest of the dim when it comes to repetition.
All this may be why people who predict series length and usually go with the favorite in six games – the safe pick – are going to five in this one, and thinking even that might be too generous to the Cavs. It’s like they’ve seen all they need to see, and they have skipped ahead to the end of the book.
Thus, Colangelo’s insane Twitter fixation and willingness/eagerness to savage his own players on the Philadelphia 76ers has come at the perfect time – thus diverting the chat from whether this series will be more ho than hum to whether Colangelo survives lunch.
It even allows everyone to localize the story to meet their own teams’ needs. Not only can we get a day’s work out of “Does Bob Myers have burner accounts?” and “How many online personalities does Vlade Divac have?” we don’t even have to be sport-specific. Is John Lynch a hyperactive chatterbox? Who has Billy Beane crushed today? Is Doug Wilson a Russian agent? Who did Brian Sabean consult to have Twitter explained to him?
Why, you can get three days of nonsense work done to get you all the way to the weekend, and who doesn’t like that?
Of course, the Colangelo story also obliterates the Stanley Cup Final, which is already at as a disadvantage despite being infinitely more entertaining and history-making. The Vegas Golden Knights are, and this is not disputable, the best story in sports, or at least they were before Colangelo came along and gave us social media in hell.
But even then, he may have done us a service, because social media is one of the things that separates us from the animals and plants, to the great relief of the animals and plants. If this helps adjust people’s attitudes toward sharing their attitudes beyond the levels of propriety, then that’s social media too. It is always changing, and almost always worse than it was the day before.
And there you have it – the NBA Finals while barely mentioning the NBA Finals, as God has clearly intended.

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.