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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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mysteries of Life

The following is the most recent entry in my memoir I've been writing. It is framed by this years Golden State Warriors NBA season. I've been thinking of it as a mutual journey, watching the Dubs play while allowing my memory to go back in time to my days in the NBA and my life since leaving the sport. My wife, Melanie, has been on the journey with me.

May 24, 2016              Warriors vs OKC Thunder   @ OKC

                                      Game 4: Western Conference Finals

    After a restless and unhappy night following the Warriors loss; let me rephrase that - the Warriors drubbing by the Oklahoma City Thunder - I woke up and wrote this: F**k! F**k! F**k! I used exclamation points, which as an English teacher I'm loath to do, because I get to if I'm really excited or angry. I understood the Warriors taking a beating on Sunday night, coming off the whacking they'd inflicted on the Thunder at Oracle the previous game. But I don't understand how the Warriors allowed themselves to  be so decisively and ignominiously defeated two games in a row. This is the first time the Dubs have lost consecutive games. I simply don't have the heart to comment beyond the basics. By quarters:

   Quarter One: Turnovers, lazy passes, lack of defensive intensity, no offensive rebounds, weak defensive rebounds that led to Thunder second and third attempts, and poor shooting.

   Quarter Two: Turnovers, lazy passes, lack of defensive intensity, no offensive rebounds, weak defensive rebounds that led to Thunder second and third attempts, and poor shooting.

   Quarter Three: Klay Thompson working his butt off to get his team back in the game, but has little to no support from teammates. Turnovers, lazy passes, lack of defensive intensity, no offensive rebounds, weak defensive rebounds that led to Thunder second and third attempts, and aside from Thompson, poor shooting.

   Quarter Four: F**k it!

   Now the Warriors have to do what only eight other teams have ever done in NBA playoff history: come back from a three-to-one deficit. The Dubs have accomplished some miraculous things in the last two seasons, let's pray they've got a few more miracles left in them. Throughout this memoir, I have intermittently expressed my belief in the Mysteries of Life: miracles, coincidences, irony, the undefinable, the unfathomable Universe, the unpredictable. I will ask Irony to do what it does best, reverse what appears to be the inevitable so that what the Oklahoma fans see as the future will turn out to be different, a Warrior future. However, Irony cannot accomplish its task without the cooperation of the Warrior players. If they participate wholly and unreservedly in the mystery and lose, so be it. Don't cry for me or for them, Argentina. 

   As for me, if the journey with my Warriors ends with the next game, I will not be sorry I took this trip with them, although they didn't know I was along for the ride. Whatever the outcome, in the last two seasons, the Warriors have changed the game of professional basketball. It is too early and there are too many miracles left in the Universe to say how the OKC Thunder have impacted the game. I have some ideas, but I will wait to see what happens in the next game; one the Dubs must win to keep their nickname from becoming a memory.

   Melanie returns from her morning walk and joins me.

   "My magic shirt," she says sadly.

    "It's lost its magic," I say. "You can use it as a paint shirt."

    "Demoted,"

    "No, actually promoted. From sports to art."

    It occurs to me that this is what will happen to me if the Warriors lose their next game, I'll have to get back to work on my novels. It's a pleasant thought and a sad one. I'll miss these magnificent young Dubs. There's a good chance that my wife and I will be living in Florence during the next NBA season. I'll keep track of the team, but it won't be the same--this personal.




Monday, May 23, 2016

You Get What You Deserved

Following last night's rout of our Golden State Warriors, Coach Kerr said, "We got what we deserved." That was it. No histrionics, no complicated explanations, no defensive attitude. Such is the wisest way to approach losses of this magnitude. I've been there, as a player and a coach. It leaves you mentally exhausted rather than physically exhausted. It is a truth that following such "beat-downs" the losing teams\ will play much better the next game. In the Warriors' case, the question will be how much will the better be? I suspect a lot. There's too much character on this Warriors for them to do otherwise.

Allow me one small attempt at Monday Morning Quarterbacking: It's worth remembering that counter-punching might work in boxing, but never works in basketball. Enough said. Go Warriors!

Loved Sergio Garcia's win at the Byron Nelson. Loved the Raptors win over the Cavs. Bismack is a stud. Valancuinas might be looking for a job.

Speaking of Studs, our stud is Draymond Green. If you read this Draymond, keeping grabbing the boards, defending, intimidating, leading. But keep the emotion as fuel inside you. You are needed on the floor.

The following poem is obviously not about basketball. But the message has to do with all sports.

The Chariot Race  

Have you not seen them fighting for the lead.
Their chariots plunging when the barrier drops,
The drivers' surging hopes, the pounding fear
That drains exulting hearts? They close in,
Ply the lash, crouch over loosened reins,
The glowing axle spins, the drivers' bodies
Seen now to scrape the ground, and now to soar
Through empty air, wheels rising in the wind;
No hanging back, no rest: a golden cloud
Of sand swirls in their wake, the flecks of foam,
The breath of the pursuers, soak them through:
So great is their love for praise, their will to win. 

                           Virgil
                            from the Georgies
                            Translated by Smith Plameer Bovie.

Remember, Warriors, no hanging back, you must have the WILL to win.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Quick Note from an Old Warrior to the Dubs

Without trying to complicate matters by over analyzing a six point loss, its worth keeping in mind and taking to heart a basketball principal that transcends all levels of the game: high school, college, and professional: Defense and boards - everything else will work itself out. Good Luck tonight. I'll be at Orcacle cheering you on.

Here's a terrific basketball poem for the Dubs and Dubs coaches and other basketball junkies that read my blog written by Carl Linder. I may have used this poem before, but it's been a while and worth repeating.

First Love

Before sixteen
I was fast
enough to fake
my shadow out
and I could read
every crack and ripple
in that catch of asphalt.
I owned
the slanted rim
knew
the dead spot in the backboard.
Always the ball
came back.

Every day I loved
to sharpen
my shooting eye,
waiting
for the touch.
Set shot, jump shot,
layup, hook - 
after a while
I could feel
the ball hunger-
ing to clear
the lip of the rim,
the two of us
falling through. 


Monday, May 16, 2016

First Game of the Playoffs

I'll keep this one short and to the point. The Warriors will win the Western Conference Finals. I will not predict in how many games because it's up to the players to answer that question. The Warriors will win because they are tougher mentally than the Thunder. This has nothing to do with intelligence. Mental toughness is about soul-strength to overcome those moments of adversity that are bound to occur at regular intervals throughout each game. (and life) Soul, because that is what defines all of us as individual human beings, not the mind, not the body, not the heart, but that undefinable other.

Here is a Haiku I wrote for the series for the Warriors.

Defense is Power
Who flexes his muscles harder
Warriors or Thunder

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Curry Doubles MVP

It's taken me 48 hours to get over Steph Curry's performance in the Warriors' overtime victory in Portland. For five minutes, as I watched, mesmerized, there was nobody on the court except Steph. the rest of the Warriors and the five Blazers moved only as background dancers would in a ballet in synchrony with the principal dancer. This was Stephan Curry doing his Mikhail Baryshnikov imitation. This was sport as art. I could have been watching live from the Met, instead it was live from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

In sports history, Curry's five minutes in overtime will be remembered in the same context as Wilt's 100 point fourth quarter, of Kobe's 60 point game, of so many of Michael Jordan's miraculous shots, of Bird's winning baskets. But none, in my mind, will equal Steph Curry's performance for esthetheticism.

One last comment. Toward the end of the overtime period, the camera panned to the Trailblazer owner, Paul Allen, his mouth hanging open in amazement. 

Steph #13   by Tom Meschery

Crows drop through the trees
   Outside my window the sky
Rains deep three-point shots