Ray Ratto

Steve Kerr ejection opens Warriors' Oakland farewell in best way possible

Steve Kerr ejection opens Warriors' Oakland farewell in best way possible

OAKLAND -- Steve Kerr keeps mentioning how refreshingly invigorated the Golden State Warriors seem this training camp, almost as though he is genuinely surprised by it after last year's season-that-never-ended.
 
The Warriors head coach cites the eagerness of Golden State's young players vying for the 50 minutes or so of playing time the Core Six cannot cover. He cites the absence of a trip akin to the one to China that bit a sizable hole in all their summers. Monday night, he even mentioned the fact that Draymond Green, who played with a hotel ice machine strapped to his extremities most of last season, is speaking openly of wanting to win another Defensive Player of the Year Award.
 
“I like it better than if someone on our team said, ‘I want to win the scoring title,’” Kerr said with a smile.

Hours later, he even found the upside to getting tossed from Monday’s 117-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns shortly after halftime for walking on to the floor to object loudly to official Ben Taylor to a foul call on Stephen Curry.
 
“I was in the wrong,” he said afterward, semi-sheepishly. “I got what I deserved. I was just trying to make a point. Trying to distinguish myself.”
 
Then, as he left the press conference he room, he muttered slyly, “I was just trying to give something to the network.”
 
And maybe inadvertently to the town that would appreciate a preseason ejection most. 
 
This hasn’t been mentioned much, given that the organization is trying to make the move to San Francisco a little less traumatic for the ticket-buying core of the East Bay. They’re not leaving a city, the corporate story goes, they’re just leaving a building.
 
The problem with that logic, though, is that the building they are leaving is stamped with Oakland’s DNA, and even though many of those genetic markers have been priced out of the Coliseum by the franchise’s success, it still exists in the atmosphere and the floorboards and the explosive roar that the crowd still musters when properly inspired. The players know this place. They like this place.
 
Not that they won’t like the new place when it opens next year – it’s just that it won’t be Where It All Began. It’s why this is one of the Warriors’ themes for the new season – to make a great last impression.
 
Nobody has ever left an old arena with a title, not in hockey or in basketball, unless of course you want to count the 1969 Pittsburgh Pipers of the old ABA, who actually left town entirely. 
 
Three teams in NBA history have opened new buildings with a championship – the 1989 Detroit Pistons (leaving the Pontiac Silverdome for the Palace at Auburn Hills), the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers (leaving The Forum for Staples Center) and the 2003 San Antonio Spurs (leaving the Alamodome for SBC Center, now AT&T Center). In hockey, the only two times it has happened is when the Boston Bruins abandoned the old Arena for the Garden in 1929, and 1996, when the Colorado Avalanche relocated from Quebec City and won in their first season in Denver.
 
But nobody has ever said goodbye with a parade before, and while it is not a prime motivator in the Warriors’ quest for a fourth ring, let alone having more fun while doing it, it is the best way to leave Oakland feeling whole – and maybe the only way.
 
It surely beats the way the 11,000 fans in attendance at Sunday’s open practice reacted – with a tsunami of boos – when reminded by the master of ceremonies, “Can you believe this is the last year at Oracle Arena?” In other words, this has the potential to be a sore subject in what would seem to be another routine march to a championship.
 
Fortunately for all involved, the players seem to get it. They cut their teeth on this building and in this town, and those who don’t know how much this fan base endured en rout to their current sense of grandeur have been told by those around them.
 
Kerr knows for sure, and though he is careful not to wade into this particular pool of nostalgia, did say, “I think getting off to a fast start would be good for us. I think we lost more games at home last year (12, not counting postseason) than we did the three years before combined (nine). When we’re winning at home, that’s when we know the Warriors’ world is right.”
 
And if along the way he has to walk on the floor to get thrown out of an exhibition game just to compete for the entertainment dollar, then clearly the Oaktown is strong in him.

Why 2019 will be the Year of Real Estate for Bay Area sports teams

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AP

Why 2019 will be the Year of Real Estate for Bay Area sports teams

There are lots of ways 2019 can go, sporty-wise, and this won’t be one of those insipid end-of-year columns predicting anyone’s future, or making resolutions for them, or even pretending its actually 2020 and looking back at 2019. The present is difficult enough for all of us, as you might have guessed by reading and listening to us all these years.
 
No, here you will get something you actually know will be true. Oh, it’ll still be insipid, but you can’t have everything, at least not at these prices. So here goes next to nothing.
 
In 2019, the major story in these parts will be real estate. Stadium real estate.
 
Oh, there will be games, to be sure – 700 pro events, give or take the odd postseason game, hundreds of college events not including the annual Alabama-Clemson game, and all the weird offseason dramas about who’s signing with whom and who isn’t going to like it and how many millions will be burned to make this whole pageant work.
 
But it’s still stadium stuff that will be of the most impact, and unless that sort of thing starts your engine, this could be a pretty dry year. Nothing sucks quite like stadium suck. The story seems to last forever, it often has no resolution, and when it does, it means prices are going up or availability is going down. But let’s do the walkthrough.
 
1.        The Oakland Raiders are playing somewhere in 2019, but nobody knows where yet, which is so very Raiders. Only they can institutionalize homelessness because only they work by the seat of their pants this often while pretending to a team whose “greatness is in its future.” 
2.        The Golden State Warriors are moving west and going to tell us all about it every day to the point that we may forget that there’s a basketball team attached to the new place. There’s no telling how much longer their dynasty will last, but it will happen against a backdrop of seat licenses and tickets for games that you can’t see.
3.        The San Francisco Giants are celebrating the 20th year at their park by seeing the Warriors move next door and start poaching event customers, while trying to decide if it needs the Raiders to chew up the field of their 75-win baseball team.
4.        The Oakland Athletics are going to keep futzing around the Howard Terminal site until they actually commit to ordering a shovel, which is when we can finally take them at face value on this matter.
5.        The San Francisco 49ers have to figure out how to hide all the empty seats that have framed their work product for the last five years because while their stadium may be a cash cow, cows are not particularly telegenic.
 
It’s not all stadiums everywhere, though. Our local colleges don’t have the building itch, the Sacramento Kings don’t factor into this because they’ve already done the arena thing and are finally crafting a team worthy of the building, and the San Jose Sharks, maybe uniquely, don’t want a new building even though theirs is more than 25 years old.
 
Yes, don’t want a new building. Owner Hasso Plattner, the German billionaire who bought the team because he likes hockey even though he still lives mostly in Germany, negotiated a new lease three years ago that runs through 2025 and pays $0 in rent in exchange for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million in upgrades to keep SAP Center. That doesn’t mean they won’t want something new in the future on someone else’s dime, just that they have been silent on building matters since 2015 and remain so now.
 
But the Raiders in and of themselves are such a roaringly hot mess geographically that they may be the first team in the post-merger era (1970) to have nobody want them at all, and that’s a story in and of itself. The latest development is that two members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a Supervisor-elect came out last week opposing the Giants potentially undercutting Oakland by picking up their team for a quick four-month slap-and-tickle.
 
This might drag Levi’s Stadium back into the whither-the-Raiders debate, even though neither landlord (Jed York) nor tenant (Mark Davis) seem to want anything to do with each other. And it keeps Oakland as the favorite to house the team for its true farewell season . . . that is unless the stadium in Las Vegas gets stalled for some unforeseen (or very foreseen, as these things go) reason.
 
The A’s remain in the Coliseum for the next few years, but have to advance beyond the artist’s rendering stage for the Howard Terminal version of their new park, which as we know isn’t a stage at all but merely watercolor sketches. What they do from this point on is the hard part, and there are skeptics who believe they might chuck it all in anyway, beg to relocate out of the area and throw themselves on the sandpapery mercies of Commissioner Rob Manfred, who remembers that the A’s voted against him when he was running for commissioner after Bud Selig’s retirement. Either way, that’s a year-long talker, too.
 
As for the Warriors, they will now move to the waterfront palace Joe Lacob cares about more than basketball, and if you think that won’t bring added pressure to the already exhaustive matter of keeping the dynasty fueled and stocked, you haven’t seen the way Lacob can agonize over a second-quarter turnover against the Suns.
 
Most of this will not be true in 2020. The Warriors will be fully embedded in the city, the Raiders will be moving-vanned to Nevada and the A’s will either be staring at a hole in the ground or have to explain why they’re not. By 2020 the 49ers will have to show tangible signs that they can get this football thing right and maybe put more of their seats to use, and the Giants will be a year into their rebuild and the simultaneous fight with the Warriors for non-baseball events.
 
Some of those problems will be resolved in 202 for good or ill, and we can move on to the games and the players and the coaching and the drama and the rumors and the gambling and all the other things that make us care as much as we do about spectator sport. Hell, we might even get a firing or two just to break up the monotony.
 
But for the most part, 2019 is about where we watch just as much as what we watch. Were I you, I’d drink. This could get . . . well, insipid. 

What Raiders, 49ers had in common proves Bay Area can endure football

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USATSI

What Raiders, 49ers had in common proves Bay Area can endure football

Well, this much good happened on the last day of the 2018 football season, Bay Area Editions: The Oakland Raiders managed to finish their work in record time.
 
Their work, mind you, was to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs, which they did by turning the ball over the first four times they got it en route to a 35-3 mauling. The record time was two hours and thirty-seven minutes, which is ungodly fast for a game so formatted to get in all the possible advertisements that anything under three hours is an oddity, and anything under 2:40 is a game from 1967.
 
And if you want to be a pedant about it, it was the fastest game in nine years, the last being a tedio-spectacular between Jacksonville and New England won by the Patriots, 35-7, in 2009.
 
Now given that the 49ers played nearly an hour longer to lose to the Los Angeles Rams, 48-32, AND scored the last two touchdowns to make a rout look like a wacky circus, I guess that means that San Francisco was the superior team this year. Well, that and the fact that their most convincing win in five years had come against had come against the Raiders.
 
But there was plenty of very little for each team in 2018 as they extended their streak of non-winning combined records to 16 years, and there was something to be said for the fact that they were also 28th and 32nd against the point spread in 2018. In short, two public teams offended the public both in real life and BettingWorld.
 
But now that we all are clear on what happened, what happens next? I mean, other than the 49ers either picking second or trading down, and the Raiders picking fourth or trading in either direction?
 
Well, the Raiders need a place to play that is more developed than Bushrod Park, and the 49ers need to make Levi’s Stadium seem less like a furniture store on a rainy Saturday. The 49ers need to break in their new-old quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Raiders need to decide if they can or want to move forward with the increasingly beleaguered Derek Carr.
 
After that, they both need to demonstrate that the Bay Area can still endure professional football. I mean, the Raiders are beating feet out of town soon enough, but the 49ers have spent their margin for error with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, and the 21st Century hasn’t been very useful for the Bay Area.
 
These were two once-mighty franchises rendered low, lower and below the horizon, and 2018 was the lowest in years. Both teams had injuries, personnel shortages and general malaise. They both won four games, and there is no way to make that seem like anything other than the eyesores they were.
 
And while we are no longer naïve enough to believe that the Raiders are going to be anything other than inertia embodied in 2019 as Gruden continues the teardown that preps the team for Las Vegas, the 49ers need to have the season in 2019 that 2018 was advertised to be rather than what 20-17 ended up being. Shanahan is 3-19 in months other than December (and the team 7-38 since Jim Harbaugh was shown the front gate), which is Hue Jacksonian no matter what excuse you apply, and those fans who still will have a team in two years are wearying of being spoilers before Halloween.
 
We’d like to tell you that things are going to get better for both teams in 2019, but we thought that in 2018, 2017 and 2016, too. Selling hope to dispirited customers is how big-box scores went bankrupt, so it’s probably psychologically safer to sit back and wait for this alleged improvement to happen. Hey, it worked for the Warriors.

[RELATED: What we learned in 49ers season-ending loss to Rams]
 
But credit where its due. The Raiders knew what the audience wanted Sunday, and gave it to them -- a quick hello-and-goodbye and an early flight home to fearfully contemplate Jon Gruden’s second offseason. Their offseason might not be fun, but at least it started sooner.