Ray Ratto

There's only one external achievement that can drive the Warriors in the 2018 Finals

There's only one external achievement that can drive the Warriors in the 2018 Finals

Game 1 of the NBA Finals has not yet begun, and yet the nation is already speaking about its unsustainability.

At least the part of the nation that needs a little extra incentive in its entertainment options.

The Golden State Warriors have been bet so aggressively in Game 1 of these NBA Finals that the line has risen from 11 (10½) in some places) to 13, which is the highest spread in Finals history, and are now minus-900 for the entire series. And this despite the fact that Andre Iguodala, the man most credited with bringing down LeBron James in 2015, is still out with a bone bruise that might keep out of the entire series if it ends a week from tomorrow.

In other words, the series is being pre-considered one of the least interesting in recent history (you have to go back to 2001, when the Shaq/Kobe Lakers faced Allen Iverson and the pre-Colangelo Philadelphia 76ers and pummeled them in five games) to find a similarly declared mismatch.

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: NBA Finals preview; series/MVP predictions; Zaza to start?]

And therein lies the reason people didn’t want this series – because nothing kills fun like a feeling inevitability. Not because it’s Warriors-Cavs again, but because it’s Lakers-Sixers again.

But there is good news for those of you dissatisfied by this series’ competitive aspect – it will all end soon, and sooner than you think.

And why? Because Bob Myers, the architect of so much of the Warriors dynastette, says it will.

“I definitely know this is ending,” Myers said to a gaggle of reporters Wednesday on the traditional end of the pre-hype period. “I don’t need any reminders. I know a lot of people in the Bay Area think this is going to go on forever. On the record, it won’t. It can’t. Nothing does.”

He foretells the end of the Warrior dynasty the way everyone does – age, money, what he calls “personalities” – but he does foretell it, as if to say, “You need to appreciate this no matter how anticlimactic it might be, because our time on the throne of skulls is as finite as LeBron’s.”

[RELATED: When Bob Myers asked him how long he wants to coach, Steve Kerr was befuddled]

But nobody likes being told what to enjoy and what not to enjoy. That is an organic development left to each individual beholder, and if your view is to evaluate every title run as a separate entity, you are entitled to make faces as the series begins.

If, on the other hand, you want it to be some new chapter of a larger book, well, it is the least inspiring Warriors team and one of James’ worst championship-level teams, if that helps. The Warriors are playing the 2015, 2016 and 2017 versions of themselves, not the Cavaliers, and they have almost certainly lost that match. Their stretches of disengagement have continued throughout the season, and for all their mea culpas, what they say with their body of work this year is that they have come to tolerate that disengagement, may have even built that disengagement into their preseason planning, and decided not to chase themselves on the very reasonable position that they can’t beat the first title, or the 16-1 run, or the 73-win season.

And a team that can win while fighting boredom is both mighty, and bored. That may be what Myers sees – a longer term position where the boredom ultimately wins. The Warriors crushed the field with their first win in 40 years, came within Draymond Green’s we’ve-had-enough-of-you suspension of outdoing 2015, and the 16-1 playoff run of 2017.

The only external achievement that can drive them as a unit now is to sweep the Cavs while being a 9-1 favorite with the largest point spreads in NBA Finals history. And we don’t know if that is sufficient to drive them either, because it is like so many other things Michael Corleone referred to in Godfather II when his father talked about him being a governor or senator rather than a Mafia don – by dismissing those honors as “another pezzonovante,” a title that is of no consequence.

In other words, the Warriors have only a short time left to build on a resume they may already have decided is sufficiently constructed, or is unimportant. They may have decided that the act of winning the games together without tearing themselves apart with ego or unfilled ambitions is better than the run of legacy arguments in which the outside world loves to engage.

And maybe Draymond Green, who would probably say it best anyway, thinks, “13-point favorite don’t mean nothin’ to me.” And he’s right, because the Warriors themselves aren’t necessarily in it for what you want them to be in it for, and they will decide when enough is enough.

You just have to decide if you’re ready for when they, including Bob Myers, make that decision.

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.