NCAA

Why these four moments belong on Bay Area sports' Mount Rushmore

Why these four moments belong on Bay Area sports' Mount Rushmore

Let's get this over with right away: Read the rules, understand the fine print. 

On Friday, 95.7 The Game came up with their four greatest Bay Area sports moments. Here's what they came up with. 

This got us thinking, if we were to make a Mount Rushmore of the greatest moments in Bay Area sports history, would these be the four? First, back to the rules and fine print.

This is about the greatest moments, not the greatest teams, so just saying a championship or run of championships doesn't count. We also are talking about plays and/or moments that happened during games on the field or court. 

If we were talking more about the grander scheme of things in a broader sense, the 1989 World Series obviously would be added for the Loma Prieta earthquake. On the field, though, the A's swept the Giants and the games mostly are forgettable. Colin Kaepernick first kneeling during the national anthem in a 2016 preseason game certainly would deserve a spot as well. Take a look around at the world right now, and you'll know why.

So, as far as greatest sports moments go, the 95.7 The Game crew almost nailed it. They were right on three out of four, dropping the ball just once. Which brings us to how it should have gone. 

The Catch 

This list can't start any other way. From the play to the situation to the iconic photo and the nickname, "The Catch" has it all.

With 58 seconds left against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, Clark stretched out his arms to snag Joe Montana's pass in the end zone, tying the game at 27 points apiece before an extra-point gave the 49ers the lead and the eventual win. San Francisco went on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI to win their first of five championships.

"The Catch" not only is one of the most iconic plays in 49ers and Bay Area history, it also is one of the most memorable moments in NFL and sports history as a whole. 


The Play

Just like "The Catch," this is a moment that lives on in sports history. Close your eyes and you can see it happening. Actually, you can hear it happening as well. 

"The band is out on the field!" It's an iconic call in a wild scene that will be played until the end of time.

Cal came into the game 6-4 and Stanford was just 5-5. The stakes obviously weren't high, but in a rivalry game, records go out the window. This moment had to make the list. 

Madison Bumgarner, Game 7

This one wasn't easy. There were multiple times where I came close to making a change. What about Travis Ishikawa's walk-off home run in the 2014 NLCS? Or Edgar Renteria's go-ahead homer in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series? Or even just the final out out the 2010 World Series? 

During the Giants' dynasty of winning three titles in five years, from 2010 to 2014, there were plenty of iconic moments. None are like Bumgarner coming out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.

Bumgarner had just thrown a 119-pitch shutout in Game 5. That didn't matter to him, he wanted the ball. So in Game 7, he threw 68 pitches over five shutout innings out of the bullpen to hold off the Royals. MadBum was a rockstar.

The iconic performance lowered his World Series ERA to 1.03 that year, and he was named MVP of the Fall Classic.

Game 6 Klay

Finally, we disagree. Let's let Steve Kerr explain. 

When the Warriors coach was asked Friday by 95.7 The Game what Steph Curry's defining moment is, he answered with three words: "All of them." 

Game 5 of the 2015 NBA Finals certainly is one of them. Curry scored 12 of the Warriors' final 13 points to give Golden State a three-games-to-two lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. His 37 points put the Warriors within one win of their first title in 40 years.

That performance was one among a long list that Curry has given Warriors fans. The same goes for his "Bang! Bang!" game-winner in 2016 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and others -- including Baron Davis' dunk over Andrei Kirilenko in the 2007 Western Conference semifinals -- have given Dub Nation unforgettable moments. In this case, we're listening to Kerr once again.

"I've watched that game several times since, and it's almost impossible to fathom what Klay did and what he was able to do individually in that game to pull the game for us," Kerr said on 95.7 The Game while arguing Thompson's performance in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference finals. "It was just an amazing performance."

With the Warriors on the verge of elimination after a record-breaking 73-win season, Thompson set a single-game NBA playoff record 11 3-pointers in Golden State's 108-101 win. He finished with 41 points and had every Warriors fan glued to their TVs as he quieted Chesapeake Energy Arena. 

"Game 6 Klay" was born and never will be forgotten.

Snubs

The list is too long. Yell at me on Twitter. @DaltonJ_Johnson

Jalen Green's G League contract leaves NCAA with life-or-death decision

Jalen Green's G League contract leaves NCAA with life-or-death decision

Jalen Green did not kill college basketball. Rather, he compared NCAA disparities and NBA inducements and reached a logical conclusion that could open the door to its death.

Green’s decision to bypass the NCAA and opt for the G League makes him a pioneer, high-profile test case for the NBA and its minor league to provide a salaried alternative to the relative servitude that is college hoops.

If anyone should take this leap, it is Green, widely considered the No. 1 prep in the country. NBA agent Aaron Goodwin – who previously shepherded prep-to-pros clients LeBron James and Dwight Howard – also represents Green and, naturally, believes in him.

“The way I’ve done business for 29 years shows people that I have a great eye for talent and that I pick kids that can become great ballplayers, great people on and off the court,” Goodwin told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s in that mold.”

One day after Green agreed to his contract on Thursday, he was followed Friday by Isaiah Todd, another top-five prep taking the same route. Expect several others in the coming days and weeks, multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area Thursday and Friday.

This is precisely what the NBA had in mind 18 months ago when it created the G League Select Contract as “part of a comprehensive path” for elite preps to become professionals. The league altered its business model closer to those of MLB and the NHL, both of whom allow graduating prep seniors the option of entering the work force immediately after high school.

Hallelujah.

About time? Nah. Overdue.

Green, 18, spent his senior season at Napa’s Prolific Prep basketball academy, with Napa Christian High as its academic partner. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard, a Fresno native, averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the 31-3 Crew.

He has been compared to past and present NBA players, including the late Kobe Bryant, and also has drawn raves from the likes of Dwyane Wade. Green has worked with, get this, Stephen Curry and Luca Doncic.

With his senior year shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Green faced three options.

One, he could go to college – reportedly the University of Memphis – for one season and then declare for the 2021 NBA draft.

Two, he could follow the path of LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton, who spent last season playing professionally overseas. Ball reportedly earned less than $100,000, while Hampton reportedly earned much more. Both are eligible for the 2020 NBA draft.

Three, Green could turn pro on home soil by signing a one-year G-League contract worth more than the previously reported $500,000, according to multiple sources, and be eligible for the 2021 NBA draft.

Option No. 3 won, and It wasn’t close. Nor should it be. The G League program also allows for a scholarship should anyone going through the program decide to pursue higher education. Green’s parents left it up to him, and they agree with his choice, according to Goodwin.

“They realize he can’t lose,” he said. “If the NBA really wants to do this program right, and they really want kids to see how great it is to come to the NBA, how could they let this kid fail? They’ve got to put their entire machine behind not only this kid but this program, so they can show others that really believe they’re one-and-done . . . that they can come to the G League and hone your craft with the best we have.”

The movement was crafted by the NBA and the office of former G League president Malcolm Turner. Former Cal star and NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim succeeded Turner and now, with Green’s groundbreaking decision, the G League program is atop the mind of all future recruits.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Abdur-Rahim took note of Ball and Hampton leaving high school to play overseas and thought there had to be better way. Consider this their response.

Which puts NCAA in position to respond or surrender, and that monolithic organization can’t be pleased with either option.

The fair response is to share some of the multibillion-dollar pie currently divided among coaches, schools, conferences and the NCAA itself – everybody except the skilled laborers. They’re told a scholarship is pay, and to be careful who buys them a sandwich.

[RELATED: How Green's decision affects Kings]

There is plenty of money to go around in the NCAA sanctum, where rules are subjective and punishment is arbitrary, but there has been an avowed reluctance to share it.

If the NCAA surrenders, the college game will live on. It won’t thrive. It will be light on talent, revenue will start dropping and it will face yet another decision.

Meanwhile, let NCAA basketball consider its future. And let Jalen Green find a future that is everything he ever dreamed it would be.

Darren Baker, Dusty's son, donates 100 meals for coronavirus relief

bakervaughnap.jpg
AP

Darren Baker, Dusty's son, donates 100 meals for coronavirus relief

Dusty Baker always has been one of the most respected people in baseball, both on and off the field. His son, Darren, already is following in his footsteps. 

Darren, a second baseman at Cal, announced Tuesday that he donated 100 meals to Feeding America to help families who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Darren first became famous at just 3 years old in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series when J.T. Snow swooped up the young bat boy at home plate after scoring on a Kenny Lofton triple to give San Francisco a 10-4 lead over the Anaheim Angels. Now 21, he stars for the Cal baseball team. 

Baker hit .306 and was a perfect 21-for-21 on stolen base attempts as a sophomore when he made the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. He started off slow this year, but finished his junior season batting .286 before Cal's season was canceled after only 16 games. Before the season ended, though, he did lead Cal in hits (18) and runs scored (15). 

Going into his junior season, many saw Baker as a rising draft prospect. He really impressed at the plate this summer in the Cape Cod League, is one of the best defensive infielders in the country and his speed can change games. Even more important, he's a leader as displayed with his latest act of kindness. 

[RELATED: Darren Baker writes his own story at Cal after early fame]

"He’s a big-time leader," Cal manager Mike Neu said to NBC Sports Bay Area in February. "Obviously his playing experience here, his background with who he’s learned from -- not just his dad but the big leaguers he’s been around, I mean it just automatically gives him so much of a foundation for him and for our whole team.

"He’s a leader and he’s been great in that role."