Notes of Note: Warriors-Rockets, Dabo’s Contract, Giants’ Decline, Durant’s Future, No White House f
There was much to enjoy and savor in yesterday’s 104-100 victory by the Warriors over Houston in Game 1 of the conference semi-finals.
The defensive genius of Andre Iguodala. The fire of Draymond Green. The unstoppable brilliance of Kevin Durant. The clutch three-pointer by Steph Curry. The sheer volume and excitement of the crowd in the arena.
I was there, thanks to our old friends Bob and Paulette Moore, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. The only downer was the constant “flopping” by the Rockets’ players.
Houston's entire game plan seems to be based on drawing fouls. Rockets' players, particularly James Harden, like to thrust their bodies and arms into defenders when they shoot. And when Harden takes his patented step-back three-pointer, he almost always flops to the floor, looking for a foul. It gets really old.
Dabo Cashes In: In case you missed it, Clemson rewarded head football coach Dabo Swinney with a 10-year contract worth $93 million. Swinney, who has won two of the last three national championships, obviously is a great coach and deserves a huge deal.
But I'd feel a lot better about his personal pot of gold if his players were also getting a share of the billions being generated by college football.
Swinney strongly opposes paying the players. A few years ago, he said, “As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me. I’ll go do something else, because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.”
Entitlement? I’m a little confused as to why it’s “entitlement” for the players—the ones who actually play the games, spend over 40 hours a week on football, risk getting hurt every time they take the field, and attract the ticket buyers and TV viewers—to get paid.
Yet it’s not “entitlement” for coaches, who never throw a block or make a tackle, to make $9 mil a year?
It seems to me you can't have it both ways, Dabo. Either you try to preserve some semblance of amateurism, rein in the obscene amounts of money being spent on coaching salaries and facilities, and try to minimize the impact of television on student-athlete welfare by not scheduling so many evening and weekday games.
Or you admit that it’s all a charade, that college football and basketball have become “professionalized,” and find a way to give the players a piece of the pie.
How Sweet It Was: Seems hard to believe, but less than three years ago, the San Francisco Giants were the best team in baseball.
The Giants dominated the first half of the 2016 season, going into the All-Star game with a 57-33 record, before falling apart after the break, finishing 87-75 and getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Both the 2017 and '18 seasons were disasters, and 2019 appears to be following the same sad script.
Once upon a time, the Giants had the best pitching staff in baseball, a terrific defense, an MVP caliber player in Buster Posey, and an unlikely cast of characters who had career years. (Remember Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, and Michael Morse?)
But injuries and age have taken their toll, the one-hit wonders returned to earth or moved on, and the Giants have been slow to embrace league-wide trends toward defensive shifts, analytics, and home runs.
New GM Fahran Zaidi's failure to obtain a power hitter (or two), inconsistent pitching, and the inexplicable retention of first baseball Brandon Belt—who has averaged only 14 home runs and 45 RBIs during his career—has left the locals staring at a 70-win season in manager Bruce Bochy's swan song, and considering drastic measures such as moving in the fences at Oracle Park.
Durant’s Future: I know most NBA pundits believe Kevin Durant is "gone" from the Warriors after this season, but don't underestimate owner Joe Lacob and teammate Steph Curry. They can be very persuasive.
And for all the talk about Durant wanting to have a team of his own, (presumably because Curry is the face of the Warriors), any team he could “own” wouldn't contend for the NBA title. The New York Knicks? Seriously? You’d leave the Warriors for a team with the most dysfunctional ownership in pro sports? Leave media-friendly San Francisco for the city with the most critical writers in the country? I don’t think so.
As for the Lakers, there's a guy named LeBron there.
The only real challenger, from this vantage point, is the other LA Team, the Clippers. They have the foundation of a championship team, and Durant is known to be close to Jerry West, who now works as a consultant to owner Steve Ballmer.
“Hamberders” Anyone? In other news, Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett announced that his national champion Cavaliers wouldn't be able to visit the White House because several players are preparing for pro careers.
One can only assume there are plenty of Big Macs available near the Virginia campus.
Admissions Scandal Update: In the wake of admitting a number of students with falsified athletic credentials, USC has beefed up its oversight procedures. Each recruited athlete will now be approved and reviewed by the head coach, sport administrator and compliance office before the paperwork goes to Admissions. And the names on each team roster will be audited every year & cross-checked with admissions lists.
That might be good information to have. This way, the Trojans will know whether an “athlete” who was given a scholarship is actually on the team.
Fed Fiasco: President Trump's latest nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, somebody named Stephen Moore, is a real enlightened fellow. Here are some comments he made a few years ago about women’s basketball:
"This year they allowed a woman to ref a men's NCAA game. Liberals celebrate this breakthrough as a triumph for gender equity. The NCAA has been touting this as an example of how progressive they are.
“I see it as an obscenity. Is there no area in life where men can take a vacation from women? What's next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they've done that already.)
“Why can't women ref the women's games and men the men's games. I can't wait to see the first lady ref have a run-in with Bobby Knight. I have never in my life met anyone who actually liked watching women's basketball. I don't even know any women who like women's basketball.”
Let’s hope this clown knows more about the economy and interest rates than he knows about women’s sports.