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The Draymond Factor; NCAA Blinks; A True Hero

It may seem odd that the guy who has scored at least 36 points in each of the Warriors’ playoff victories over Portland hasn’t been their best player in the series.

But it’s true.

Steph Curry has been outstanding, for sure, scoring 109 points and hitting a number of clutch baskets down the stretch in all three games of the Western Conference Finals.

But Draymond Green has been nothing short of, well, sensational.

Green’s unique combination of fire, leadership, aggressive rebounding, flat-out amazing defense, brilliant passing and push-the-ball-up-the-court-as-fast-as-you-can fast-breaking, has been something to behold. In Saturday night’s Game 3 win, all he did was score 20 points, grab 13 rebounds, dish out 12 assists, make 4 steals and block a shot for good measure.

After a rather desultory season, marked by too many technical fouls and several games when he just phoned it in, Green lost 23 pounds in March to prep for the playoffs.

Since then, he’s been a one-man wrecking crew. Watching Green grab a rebound and barrel down the court is one of the most exciting plays in basketball.

Fortunately, he’s also toned down the incessant whining to officials which, in an impressive moment of candor this week, he termed “disgusting.” And his encouragement of teammates has broadened beyond calling defensive switches. Saturday night, after Jordan Bell missed a wide-open dunk, Green told him “It’s okay. Just a missed shot. Nobody’s perfect.”

Maybe so. But so far in this series, Green has been pretty close.

At Last: The NCAA last week announced the formation of a “working group” to study the possibility of compensating college athletes for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).

It’s about time. No need to rehash all the arguments, which we’ve done in this space quite often, but the athletes deserve a piece of the billions being generated by their blood, sweat and tears

The least that must be done is to let them own their NILs and get compensated for autograph signings, the sale of merchandise with their name and/or number, shoe deals, and the use of their image in video games, calendars, commercials, etc.

There is potential for abuse, certainly, but there is a ton of abuse already going on, while the athletes continue to get screwed.

True Hero: Last week was just another week in the good old USA, with at least four incidents of mass shootings. There could’ve been one more, but fortunately, it was thwarted by a courageous football coach.

Former Oregon wide receiver and 49ers assistant coach Keanon Lowe prevented a potential school massacre on Friday.

Lowe, who is now head football and track coach at Parkrose High School in Portland, tackled a student who entered the school armed with a shotgun. Lowe saw the student, dressed in a trench coat, pull a long gun from beneath his coat and tackled him before he could do any damage.

Lowe caught 28 passes for the Ducks in 2014 and then played in the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship game. He later worked as an analyst for the Eagles and 49ers under his old college coach, Chip Kelly.

Lowe has also been a successful coach at Parkrose: The football team went to the state playoffs last fall, Lowe’s first as the coach, after going winless the previous year.

After the news spread about Lowe’s heroism, Kelly called his protégé to congratulate him.

“I wanted to know his tackling technique,” Kelly dead-panned, before adding “he’s just a very special person who’s always wanting to help and serve. I think everybody is fortunate he was where he was Friday afternoon.”

Indeed we are. Lowe is one of three brave souls who have stopped or reduced potential carnage at school shootings in the past month by tackling the gunman.

Tragically, senselessly, the other two heroes were killed.

Meanwhile, our courageous legislators in Washington D.C. continue to shrug off the national epidemic of gun violence, send their thoughts and prayers to victims’ families, and collect their checks from the NRA.

Clearly, there are no heroes in that group.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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