meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2011-05-15

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.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jerry West

Congratulations to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber the new owners of the Golden State Warriors. First they hire a fresh, young executive, Bob Myers, then they bring Jerry West on board as a member of the board and as a consultant, sensibly before they hired a coach. Thus, allowing a great basketball mind, like West's, to weight in on who the future Warrior coach will be.

I played ten years against Jerry. It was a challenge, a thrill, and a privilege. Oh, don't get me wrong, every time he drove the lane I did my utmost, with respect, to put him on the seat of his pants.

Recently, I was trying to figure out if I was playing today how many Flagrant Ones would have been called against me, and based on today's salaries, how much it would have cost me over a ten year NBA career.
I'll entertain all guesses. Flagrant Two's should not be included in your totals. I'll own up to a few F-2's - in which case a fight would have immediately taken place and benches cleared - but the majority of my hits were always struck going after the ball; the player simply was an extension of the ball. By the way there were a lot toughter dudes than moi back in the '60's.

In my last book of poems, Nothing You Lose Can Be Replaced, there is a poem for Jerry West.

Jerry West    by Tom Meschery

That nearly half-court buzzer beater
that kept the Laker's playoff hopes alive
was never in doubt. I knew its certainty
from fingertips to rim. Jerry, as sweet
as that shot was, I want to tell you
about another one far sweeter:
night falling and the cross-winds
of San Francisco full court pressing
All City Ray Paxton, postman
with the soft touch we depended on
in the clutch. He "called it" (something
you forgot to do) seconds before the rain
would have ended the game with nothing
resolved, summer over, the lucky players
off to college where they'd play
to big crowds indoors, safe and dry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Warrior's Search for New Coach

This morning I read where Mike Brown, ex coach of the Cleavland Cavaliers is the front runner to get the heading coaching job of the Golden State Warriors. I read this and my heart seized up. Say it isn't so! The team just fired a coach who didn't hold his players accountable. Are we going to hire another coach of the same ilk? Did Brown ever hold LeBron accountable? Did Brown every have a strategy to use the great King James effectively on the offense. Not that I saw. They say defense is his specialty. If it was, I couldn't see what was so special about it.

In the same article I saw where the Warriors were talking to Lawrence Frank. Now there's a choice that makes sense. Working with a lot less talent than Mike Brown, Frank won lots of games other coaches of lesser skill would not have won. His own intelligence and a couple of years being an assistant to Doc Rivers makes him a far better choice than Brown. Frank coaching Kidd was a good combo. Frank coaching Curry and Ellis would be too. The Nets made a mistake firing him.

McHale? Really? He has tons of personality and NBA superstar charisma, but check out his coaching record. And not Sam Mitchell whose teams never played an ounce of D. Chuck Pearson might be a possibility if he promised to coach exactly the opposite way from the way he played.

And what about Adelman? Please don't tell me the Warriors are not going to interview one of the NBA's most successful coaches?

Is there another Tom Thibodeau out there? Dwane Casey's record with the Timberwolves and basketball history at Kentucky doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. How many superstars in Japan did he coach?

Brian Shaw looks as if he has what it takes, but does he know anything other than the triangle?

There is not a lot of room for a mistake picking a coach this year. We need a head coach who has the intelligence and strength to create a winner. Our fans have been extremely patient.

I've been offering up a lot of basketball poems recently. So let's change the subject. How about body building. It is a sport, ya know. Here's one from a female point of view.
Pumping Iron    by  Diane Ackerman

She doesn't want
the bunchy look
of male lifters:
torso an unyielding love-knot,
arms hard at mid-boil.
Doesn't want
the dancing bicepses
of pros.
Just to run her flesh
up the flagpole
of her body,
to pull her roaming flab
into tighter cascades,
machete a waist
through the jungle
of her hips,
a trim waist
two hands might grip
as a bouquet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Culled From the Sport Pages

Are NBA fans really witnessing a transition from the Old Guard to the New? Lots of talk about that in the sports pages, radio, TV. I wouldn't go so far. Consider the teams that made it to the finals of the eastern and western division finals: Mavericks vs Thunder and Heat vs Bulls. Of all the players on the four teams, there are only three bona fide new super stars: Rose, Durant, and Westbrook. You can't really call Lebron, D Wade, and Bosh youngster any more. Wade is 29, Bosh and James are 27 and they've all three played over seven years in the NBA. Go back into all the teams that made the playoffs. You can't call Dwight Howard at 26 one of the New Guard. Nor can you say the same for Amare Stoudemire at 29,or Carmelo Anthony at 27.  So tell me who among playoff participants, aside from Rose, Durant, and Westbrook, are the New Guard? Serge Ibaka, maybe? But I doubt it. I suppose all this New Guard fuss must include players from non playoff teams like Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins of the Kings. The jury is still out on both of them. Tyreke can't shoot and Cousins is still in need of a good therapist. Blake Griffin, of course. But again, he doesn't have a complete game - yet. But I won't quibble as he is a true future star as is Rajon Rando. There is no doubt we are saying goodbye to some stalwart supers in the 4th quarter of their careers: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and maybe Manu, but the players filling the gap, are certainly not the young guns, at least not yet. The super stars of the NBA are the stars that we have been enjoying for awhile, those who are starting the 3rd quarter of their careers and still have quite a way to go before their retirement.

Damn brave of Rick Welts of the Phoenix Suns to revel he is gay. The NBA has been leading the charge against immigration discrimination (Los Suns), and recently against gay and lesbian discrimination (It's not cool to use the word Gay pejoratively). Right on. Perhaps some of the NBA's gay players will come out of the closet. You don't believe there are any? Really?

I've always loved Carlos Santana's music. So I was delighted to see he admonished Alabama and Arizona for their immigration laws when he was awarded the Beacon of Light Award before the Phillies-Braves game.

Stanford Women's Water Polo team won the National Championship against the University of California Bears. Am I mistaken or are we talking about two teams from Northern California going Uno and Dos for the National Title. Imagine the publicity a match up like that would generate if it were basketball or football. The Big Game for the BCS Championship, or the Bears vs Cardinals winding up in the NCAA Finals. Would you think that news of those events would be stuck in a lower right hand column on page 2?

The history of the Golden State Warriors first round and second round draft picks is nothing to be proud of. Not that other NBA teams histories are that much better, but as an ex Warrior and fan, I'm not interested in other teams. I want our front office guys to do a better job. I want to see a break with the past. What do I mean by the past? Since 1985, the Warriors have selected only four quality players: Chris Mullins, Mitch Richmond, Jason Richardson, and Stephan Curry. I would include Chris Webber but he is one of my least favorite players, and he let the Warriors down with his selfish performances.  Of the four, only Mullins can be considered a game changer. And if you go to the web site, Golden State of the Mind, you can log on to all the stars the Warriors missed out on, a list that makes me wonder if the family parakeet wasn't making our team's selection. The following players were available, but the Warriors passed over: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Trancy McGrady, Dirk Nowitski, Andri Kirilenko, Tony Parker, Amare Stoudimire, Carlos Boozer, David West, Josh Smith, and Joakim Noah.

So, what does it take to make shrewd and knowledgeable draft choices? Lots and lots of hard work and plenty of assistant coaches on the road watching tons of college games. I also suspect those coaches and scouts better have a first hand knowledge of the NBA, not just of college ball. It might be too late to make changes, but whoever has been doing the scouting for our team, well, can our new owners trust them to make better decisions this year and into the future? Track records speak for themselves, don't they?

For all you fans who like good basketball stories, I recommend Counting Coup by Larry Colton, a true account of a high school girl's basketball team on the Crow Indian reservation. It is funny, tragic, intelligent, and loving.

Here's a poem by Sherman Alexie, a Native American writer and basketball player.


I remember sun-
days when the man I
call my father made

me shoot free throws, one
for every day of my life
so far. I remember
the sin of imperfect

spin, the ball falling in-
to that moment between
a father and forgive-

ness, between the hands reach-
ing up and everything
they can possibly hold.