At the beginning of this NBA season I wrote an enthusiastic blog about the Golden State Warriors. At that time, in the wake of Don Nelson's departure, I figured my old team had a chance of making the playoffs. That notion was based on three factors and one condition. The factors were the number of weak teams in the league this season, coupled with improved coaching and the addition of two strong players, David Lee and Darrell Wright.
The condition was that Andris Biedrins would have a reasonably strong season. (I suspect Coach Smart was counting on Biedrin's improvement as well.) I didn't think my expectations for Biedrins were too irrational. Eight points per game, ten bpg, and a few rejections would have satisfied me. At first I was heartened by his play. But as the season progressed, Biedren's game devolved, for no reason I could discern. Some suggested Biedrin's ineffectiveness was psychological - the loss of confidence theory, ie: blame it on Don Nelson,which sounded more like Blame It on the Bossa Nova than reality to me.
If it's not psychological, and not the Bossa Nova, what is it? Here's the thinking of an old power-forward who spent most of his career grabbing rebounds and playing in the paint. First: Biedrins mistakenly relies on his height to rebound. Second: Biedrin's footwork is atrocious; he is almost always flat footed. Third: he doesn't position himself strongly in the paint. Fourth: he misjudges the trajectory of the rebound. (Ball bounces off the rim to the right, Biedrins is on the left; ball bounces to the left, Biedrins is standing on the right.) Finally, Biedrins does not follow the Bill Russell rule: Always assume that every shot is going to be a miss? Recently I heard Kevin Love talk about rebounding citing the Russell rule, and we know what that young man has accomplished on the boards.
What frustrates me, and I assume others, is that Biedrins (remember he's only 22 years old.) definitely has some talent, which leads me to believe (God, I can't believe I'm saying it.) I don't think the Warriors should give up on him, not yet, not without spending a full summer with him (Not in Latvia) working on rebounding. AND, that work MUST be conducted by a coach who knows about rebounding, not theoretically, but from experience, an ex-power forward/center, a Maurice Lucas (rest his soul) type, someone with the strength of personality to motivate and inspire Biedrins to reach his potential. I don't know if Bill Walton would be available, but he comes to mind as someone who could do the job.
If you, dear reader, think this is nuts, considering Biedrin's abysmal performance this season, consider this: There are no centers in this year's draft and no team is stupid enough to give up any of their true power players - perhaps for Ellis or Curry, but where would that leave the Warriors?
The gamble is whether Biedrins can turn his game around. But if he can, and it is a big IF, I grant you, the Warriors can go into the draft looking for a lock-down defender at the guard position and a true point forward. We have enough spot-up shooters. We need a creative three who can score off the bounce.
It's the start of baseball season. I know that by how far back NBA news appeared in the Chronicle sporting green this morning. Here's a poem about baseball.
Pitching Coups by Ron Wellburn
The arc of the pitching arm
unwinds a circle of dreams
and corkscrews out behind a kick
to release a flying head,
in whose face coming towards
the men with bats
is a leer and a laugh.
The stitches of the sphere blur
into war paint and the heaad's
ecstatic yell echoes
throughout this canyon of battle.
It flies as straight as an arrow or
whirls like a tomahawk;
somethimes it just jumps off a ledge
the way lovers are said to do
in secret ravines all over the countryy.
It always comes ready to count coup
and tease and intimidate.
The pitching arm belongs to coyote
and so does the flying head.
The arm belongs to Chief Bender
from yesterday, then Allie Reynolds,
and the next time to Cal McLish,
and now to John Henry Johnson and
Fernando, the Valenzuela.
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.