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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Cavs Win On Lue Decision

I'll get to the Warriors a little later, but first allow me to explain the title of the blog. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, as I recollect, LeBron James was taking over the game. Every Cavs possession began with the "king" at the top of the key looking for screeners. As the game wound down to the final seconds, Tyronn Lue, the young first year coach, called a crucial time-out and set up a play for Kyrie Irving whom the "king" had forgotten was having one of the best games of his career. With 53 ticks left on the clock, Kyrie sank a devastating dagger-shot three-ball from long range with Steph Curry in his face. Had Lue not made that decision, it is my humble opinion the Warriors would have won the game.

The Warriors would have won the game anyway, had Andrew Bogut been playing, and Andre Igudala not been suffering from a bad back. So we go into next season in the same position as the Cavs were a year ago,claiming their championship was thwarted by the absence of Kyrie Irving--who was out with a fractured knee. It appears  that we are looking at a Best Two Games Out of Three, if these same two teams vie for the NBA Championship again. Wouldn't that be fun to see?

Like all the Warrior fans in the Bay Area and around the country, I'm so proud of the Dubs. I watched every game of the regular and post season. My dear wife, as avid a fan as I am, watched me and cheered our team and hexed the opponents. I've been writing my memoir in sync with the games of the Warrior season, allowing my memory to take me to my years in the NBA and beyond to my later careers. So this has been a special season. I never got a chance to play in a final Game 7, but did play in two NBA Championships, one in 1964, against the Boston Celtics, and another in 1967 against the Philadelphia 76ers. We lost both games, so I know how difficult it is to lose on the biggest stage the NBA offers. As Curry said in this morning's paper, it will haunt him for a while.

But only for a while. Eventually the 'haunting' turns to determination, and an entirely new mind-set rises out of the loss like the Phoenix: The Golden State Warriors of 2016-17.

Did I just mix my metaphors? Oh, well

A special Goodby and Good Luck to Luke Walton - except when his Lakers play the Warriors - as he goes south to tackle a pretty daunting job, rebuilding the LA Lakers.

Lots of congrats to one of my favorite golfers, Dustin Johnson, for finally winning the US Open. 
 

Haiku   by Tom Meschery

Thinking of the loss
    On the lake, a blue heron
standing on one leg. 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

It's Nut Cutting Time

Game 7 of the NBA Championship tomorrow. Both teams should be pumped and ready to go. The Warriors, surprisingly, are at a disadvantage with Andrew Bogut out and Andre Igudala suffering back pain and definitely not at his best. There ar only two answers for those two problems: Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes. Festus must guard the hell out of Tristan Thompson, and Harrison has to step up and play a strong all-around game. As a free agent, Harrison is asking the Warriors for big money; he must prove he's worth it. I've been in his corner since that fabulous power drive of his in his rookie year in the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs. Wow, what potential, I thought. Now, I think that it's time for potential to become realized.

On the subject of refereeing which is the reason for league fines levied against Steve Kerr and Stephan Curry, there must be parity. If the refs are going to call "ticky-tacky" fouls against Curry, they must call LeBron for charging fouls when he bulls his way over the chests of players trying to guard him. LeBron is one of the strongest players, pound for pound, that ever played in this league. He does not need an advantage. Right now, the refereeing provides him with a distinct advantage.

Were it possible to influence the outcome of NBA games,the one sure way to do it would be through the calls referees make or not make. In today's game in which refereeing is a life's career, this is highly improbable, but not impossible. So here's a message to the refs for Sunday: it's the finals, no itsibitsy, teeny weeny touch fouls. Let the  players determine the outcome of the game. Keep the game under control and call the fouls even-handed. LeBron is not a KING. You do not have to bow down before his throne.

Although the following poem is about baseball, and in context might be considered a mixed metaphor, I think it qualifies as a message for all sports. 

Pastime    by Emilio De Grazia

A girl, nine years of wonder
Still on her face,
Stands directly on the bag at third
Turning amazed fingers along the wrinkles 
O my old leather mitt.
It is the bottom of the ninth
And everywhere in the world
The bases are loaded. 

It is the bottom of the ninth at Oracle tomorrow. All the Dubs have to do is bring her home.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Stand Up For Draymond

I'm disappointed that all of the sports reporters and talking heads, except for Charles Barkley (Go Charles!) have not come to the defense of Draymond Green. They have not even bothered to look carefully at LeBron's actions prior to the "so-called punch" that caused Draymond the suspension. Did they not see LeBron, using his left arm, throw Draymond to the floor? Did they not see LeBron, then, do a step-over-crotch-in-face-disrespectful move over and on top of Draymond's head, brushing Dray's head with his knee? Didn't see that? Really? Have you no eyes to see? Shakespeare is appropriate here.

Draymond swung at that insult, an insult that LeBron clearly knew was an insult. He's lying if he says he doesn't know. It's an insult that, had it happened on a playground, would have resulted in a fight. LeBron knew Draymond would react. The League, unfortunately, didn't.

By refusing to acknowledge that LeBron had provoked Draymond.and by not assessing LeBron a Flagrant 1 for taunting, the NBA demonstrated its lack of understanding of the sport it's supposed to govern.

Basketball has a culture. It is the quintessential American sport. It may have been born in a YMCA gym, but it was raised and nurtured on inner-city playgrounds. The League may think it's taking the High Road by suspending Draymond, but in my opinion, all it's doing is showing how far it has removed itself from the game's origins.

If it had been me instead of Draymond, I would have been off the floor and punching King James right in his pretentious jaw. Instead of being critical of LeBron, most of the criticism has been against Draymond. That's too damn bad. I thought Draymond showed amazing restraint.

If this is a make-up call for the Draymond's OKC step-back-jumper-kick that struck Adams in the groin, then I guess it is what it is. Make-up calls have unfortunately been a part of the NBA for as long as I've been a part of the sport. We've all had to live with them, and Draymond will have to live with it too. It's a shame.

A short poem in closing from my collection, Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports. Given the subject of this blog, I believe it resonates.

 WHY I NEVER PLAYED GOLF

I didn't trust myself. Imagine
losing a match by one stroke
on the eighteenth green, his putt
longer than mine. He sinks it
for a birdie and I sink mine
for par, and I have my putter
in my hand and a bad temper
and he is smiling at me.
You understand, smiling.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What More Is There to Say about Setph Curry?

It's hard to come up with accolades for Stephan Curry that haven't been said before in one form or another. One that continues to surface is the notion that Curry has reinvented the game of professional basketball, perhaps all of basketball. But has he? By himself, hmm? Put Curry on a different team, say Chicago or Orlando - both good teams - but without the philosophy of movement, the selflessness, the teamwork of the Warriors, would Curry still have, as they say, reinvented the game?

This is the way I see Stephan Curry: He is one artist, a superb one and undoubtedly the principal representative, of  a movement, like Impressionism or Symbolism. In the case of Impressionism, Curry would be Edouard Manet, and in the case of Symbolism, he'd be Odion Redon. Was it the artist or the movement that was the transcendent force? It is my belief that, until these Warriors, there's only been one other team that reinvented the game, and that was the Auerbach Boston Celtics. So ask yourself, was it Russell or the Celts that changed the way basketball would be played in the future?

Don't get me wrong, I swoon over paintings by Manet and Redon as I do watching Curry's sweet, high, and long-distance jump shots.

On to another subject. Are you kidding me, LeBron James, strong as a bull, fast as a speeding bullet, complaining he's not getting calls when he drives the paint. OMG! When do the refs ever call HIM driving right over a player, knocking him to the ground, stepping over him and scoring? You can't have it both ways, your highness. Didn't figure you to be a whiner. By the way, what was that throw-down of Draymond Green and crotch-step-over (absolutely intentional) all about? Guess Draymond doesn't show you the respect you feel you deserve, is that it?

Whatever our beliefs, shouldn't we, as athletes, give thanks, either as a meditation or as a prayer, for our bodies and our skills?

Prayer   by Henry Charles Beeching

God who created me
   Nimble and light of limb,
In three elements free,
   To run, to ride, to swim:
Not when the sense is dim,
   But now from the heart of joy,
I would remember Him:
   Take the thanks of a boy.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Great Home Win and etc

First the Etc: Stephen Jackson was a knucklehead when he played in the NBA/Warriors et al, and it appears he is still a knucklehead, calling Leandro Barbosa a "sorry little dude." I'm certain the Leandro does not pay attention to stupid stuff like this,but I felt compelled to say something. Barbosa has more heart in his little finger than Stephen Jackson has in his entire body.

Now to the  Dubs. Wow! I have to confess that recently I called my teammate Nate The Great Thurmond worried about the  Warriors as they prepared to face the Cavs in the first game. "Tom," Nate said, "Not a problem. The Cavs can't beat the Warriors." We talked about it for a while, and I  came away as confident as Nate. Unlike OKC, the Cavs are predictable at all their positions. That doesn't mean that they're not dangerous. Any team with LeBron on it will not go down without a fight, but the top eight players on the team do not surprise (they others are not  used); it's like they and the coach sticks to a script, even Kyrie and LeBron's moves are predictable. And how the team as a whole runs their offense and plays defense is also predictable. On defense, for example, after the third pass, they lose focus. The fourth pass will usually get the Dubs a open look. In the last two wins, time and again, I saw the Cavs lose defensive focus after the third pass.

A quick note about last night's Kevin Love concussion. I watched the  replays carefully. Harrison came flying in over Love's back and his left elbow, from my perspective, struck Love above the right ear. It didn't look as if the blow could give a person a decent Tylenol headache, but it sure blacked out Love. The first thought that crossed my mind was, whoa, this  is the Finals of the NBA, hang in there, don't get eliminated from competition by the NBA Concussion Protocol. As sound as that policy is, you got to lie about how you feel. You are an essential part of the team. One blow to the head is not going to mean early onset dementia. Even if such a thing is possible, you risk it for the NBA Finals. You just do. With your shield or on it.

Sorry for that last comment, I lapsed into melodrama.

So go, Dubs. Bring the  NBA Championship home from Cleveland and prove Jim Barnett right.

Saw where Justin Gatlin, our hope for a gold medal in the 100 and 200 m in the Olympics, just won an exhibition race leading up to the big show in Brazil. Here's a Track poem.

Runner   by WH Auden

(From Commentary for a Film)

All visible, visibly
Moving things
Spin or swing,
One of the two,
Move as the limbs
Of a runner do,
To and fro,
Forward and back,
Or, as they swiftly
Carry him,
In orbit go
Round an endless track;
So, everywhere, every
Creature disporting
Itself according
To the  Law of its making,
In the rivals' dance
Of a balanced pair 
Or the right-dance
Round a common center
Delight the eye
By its symmetry
As it changes place,
Blessing the unchangeable
Absolute rest
Of the space they share.

The camera's eye
Does not lie,
But it cannot show
The life within,
The life of  a runner
Or yours or mine,
That race which is neither
Fast nor slow
For nothing can ever 
Happen twice,
That story which moves
Like music when
Begotten notes
New notes beget,
Making the flowing
Of time a growing,
Till what it could be
At last it is 
Where fate is Freedom,
Grace and surprise.