Ray Ratto

Warriors still one win away, but they are already jump-starting the next era of NBA basketball

Warriors still one win away, but they are already jump-starting the next era of NBA basketball

There is no more NBA basketball this year – just securing the final parade permits and the same idiot-driven offseason legacy arguments and hare-brained contract-and-free-agency specuguesses that fueled the last two summers.

Two great summers, by the way, because the smell of burning money beats every perfume ever made.

Oh, there’s another game contractually required of them, and maybe even two – 2017, after all, taught us the punishment for pre-counting hens while they are still in their ovoid state. In other words, Cleveland isn’t officially dead until the coroner’s clock reads 00:00.

But in real terms, Kevin Durant put the hammer to 2017-18 Wednesday night, and though it would have happened eventually anyway at the hand of someone else, in this dimension, on this planet, Durant is the designated steel-drivin’ man.

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: 15 down, one to go -- Kevin Durant was epic in Game 3]

You can already sense the rest of the nation edging away from the wreckage at Ontario and Huron. This series was declared over before the SEASON began, and the Warriors have overcome their own 85- and 90-percent nights to proving that very thing. Even LeBron James, a competitor of singular ferocity, has done two extended public service announcements for the Warrior Way. This is done, in thought, word and deed.

None of which matters to the Warriors themselves, of course. Winners get to dismiss the proles because that’s the culture we have made, and in the NBA, where royal families are defined by the uniform rather than the bloodline (well, except for the Colangelos), the Warriors have found that it’s still damned good to be the king.

But fame is a total whackjob sometimes, and Golden State validating every year-old opinion is its own crime, because the committed basketball viewer wants the bizarre plot twist and the adrenalized surprise ending, even if the raw ratings numbers say that casual fans will watch anyway.

In fact, it gets better and worse at the same time. There is a totally crackpot-driven notion that James might want to talk with the Warriors sours more people than it intrigues, including most Warrior fans. Indeed, the recasting of the Warriors for 2018-19 has begun, because the death of one narrative only causes the blooming of three others, even if the old narrative doesn’t have video to go with the script quite yet.

In other words, it’s never too soon to build a new bar for the Warriors to clear. Having comprehensively finished LeBron’s Cleveland days, they are now jump-starting the next era of NBA basketball, with them as ground zero.

And their new great white whales are not necessarily Boston or Philadelphia or LeBron James’ next team, but less substantial things – like history, like time, like the lure of greener pastures . . .

. . . like what they want to be AFTER they’ve all grown up. If this is their zenith, how do they prolong the decade they dominated into the next one? They need a new mountain to build as well as climb because they are their best when they have something that needs scaling, and the rigors of this season were made more obvious by that absence.

Or maybe they just learn to beat LeBron by taking him on as part of the “new” Warriors. It has zero chance of happening, it could kill the game for good and it will make the Warriors’ next luxury tax bill as high as the franchise valuation, but it will have the lava tsunami of narrative building the chattering classes seem to love so much.

In other words, we have gone with them through the magic year, the dominant year with the bitter ending, the dominant year with the dominant ending, and the year in which they beat boredom by compartmentalizing it. The only things left are legacy chases, cash-ins and history. And it all starts as soon as they can tidy what they are doing to these Finals.

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.