Sac Bee superb sports writer, Andy Furillo, is right. Back in the day, athletes in NYC had special hang outs. He mentioned a few: Bachelor III, Toots Shor, Wilt's Small's Paradise. There were others. Bill King, our broadcaster and recent inductee into broadcasters Hall of Fame, George Lee, a teammate on the Warriors, and I liked to unwind at Willy Pep's, a small piano bar, named for the owner, the great lightweight boxing champ. Did we stay out late? Some of us did, some did not. I don't intend to preach as it would be the pot calling the kettle black. I once say Richie Geurin, the Knicks' All-Star point-guard, the night before our game, stumble out of Bachelor III and pass out on the sidewalk. He scored 40 points with what had to be the biggest hangover of all time. In today's sports-world Richie would have made headlines for the drunken incident. But we were living in a different era.
Today in the mele that is the music/dance/glitterati scene celebrities are noticed, and there are, indeed, predators out there willing to suffer a black eye or a choke hold to get their hands on some big time cash. This is going to be Matt Barnes defense: that it was a setup. Maybe, maybe not? The problem with Barnes's view of things is his history of violence. The problem with Cousins is that he followed Barnes. Good job, Vlade, bringing in a mentor and role model for your star, who already has an "edgy" personality, to say the least.
A sucker punch? Why not grab the guy and put him in a bear hug, DeMarcus? I know, I wasn't there. Anyway, the legal system will sort this out. There is video and witnesses, and of course (if you have the cash) settlements.
I'm more worried about Coach David Joerger's statement explaining that sitting Matt Barnes for last night's game against the Knicks was a planned rest-day. First of all, rest Barnes? Really? Barnes may be 36 years old, but he's not even a starter and this is very early into the season for resting players. Something does not read right. What it is, I'm not sure. What does management know about the incident? From a purely coaching perspective, Barnes defense was crucial against a one-on-one super star like Carmelo Anthony, who went off for 31 points, so I don't buy that Barnes needed rest. He was needed.
Be careful Coach, succumbing to bad management decisions can be deadly for your coaching career.
Speaking of bad management decisions. I was talking to someone recently who assured me that there was another better player involved in drafting the 7'2" slow footed Greek center and not taking Marquees Chriss in the first round of last year's draft, an excellent player who might come to the Kings next season. I sure hope so because Chriss is going to be a first class power-forward in the NBA for a long time.
On to a more pleasant topic - Bill King, the voice of the Golden State Warriors, the voice of the Oakland Raiders, the voice of the Oakland Athletics and my dearest friend, gourmand, bibliophile, and Slavophile: There was a time when Bill was broadcasting all three major sports at the same time as their seasons overlapped, something never done in the history of broadcasting. His wonderful wife, Nancy, dear woman, hardly saw Bill at all as Bill was always on the road. Some people will remember Bill's famous expression "Holy Toledo" as he announced something special happening on the field or court.
If anyone is interested in a bio of Bill, the title is HOLY TOLEDO: Lessons from Bill King, Renaisance Man of the Mic by Ken Korach published by Wellstone Books.
The following is a poem I wrote for Bill after his death and read at his memorial service:
In Memoriam, Bill King (1927-2005) By Tom Meschery
I prosper, circled by thy voice;
I shall not lose thee though I die.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
My friend, you are speaking and we hear pictures.
For you are sitting courtside or above the game.
For the action is moving from left to right on the dial.
For someone is rising to shoot a miracle.
For the referees are dying in your microphone.
For the air is tumbling with punters' kicks
For your call, Bill, leaves the tailback no choice
But to believe in the hole that opens as you speak.
For someone has hit a home run beyond Toledo.
For the squeeze-play has caught the runner
In the middle of a metaphor - a rabbit undecided
Between which hunter he'll allow to shoot him.
For a player is trying to steal second
Sliding headfirst under your words - he's out!
For today I am feeling a great pity for anyone
Who has never heard you state a Beaujolais Nouveau
Is best served slightly chilled with brie on buttered toast.
For we all have an appetite for your voice.
For we need directions to the best restaurants
Or we will lose our way and die of hunger.
For I hear you reciting in Russian
the poetry of Pushkin and Akhmatova.
For we are together on a train racing across Siberia,
And we are drunk with vodka, and we are weeping.
For I will keep you like a tongue in my heart.
For I hear you now railing against the politicians
Right and Left. For they are hiding like gophers
From your voice. They fear only your Nancy more.
For Varuna is sailing under the Golden Gate
For it's you, not Nureyev, on the stage dancing.
For you are painting your voice on a canvas
For you are taking a nap under your table.
For you are eating peanut butter and onions
For your cat Hank is attacking the hibiscus.
O Jubilate, he is more worthy than Jeoffrey.
For Nancy is waiting, tired of being alone.
For you have left your words behind for us.
For all we need to do is turn on any radio
Close our eyes and listen to your play-by-play.
Notes about this poem:
18th century British poet Christopher Smart wrote a poem, Jubilate Agnos, (Praise to the Lamb)
a part of which honored his cat Jeoffrey. This poem is written in the style of Smart's poem.
For three years, Bill King was simultaneously the radio ply-by ply broadcaster for the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, and the Oakland A's, a feat unequaled in the annals of major league sports broadcasting.
Varuna: Bill and Nancy's 44 ft ketch
Bill loved poetry, painting, the ballet, and all the arts.
Bill King was famous for punctuating great sport's moments by yelling "Holy Toledo!"
Nancy, Bill's wife died before Bill, in June of 2004.
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, December 5, 2016
I know a hell of a lot more about basketball than I do about football, but there are common denominators that can be applied to all sports, the two main ones being: Offense and Defense. When both stink, it doesn't matter what sport, from curling to NFL football, the team or individual athlete stinks.
I've been holding my nose watching my "San Jose" 49ers this season and the odor is not getting any better. The problem is two-fold: Trent Balke and Chip Kelly. It's Balke's responsibility as GM to provide his coach and staff with quality players at all positions. This has not happened. It is Chip Kelly's responsibility as the head coach to prepare his players to play and to devise a scheme on both ends of the field enabling them to compete. This has not happened. In my opinion the hires, the trades and the drafts Balke has made seem weird or dumb. In Kelly's case, he just seems like he's over his head - a strong college coach, but a lousy pro coach. Believe me there's a big difference in the two levels. Considering the history of the NFL, there have only been about ten coaches who were successful in college and the pros. Chip is not going to join their ranks. What is finally telling for me is the 49ers lack of enthusiasm and energy. The athletes step on the field an already defeated team.
The Sacramento Kings made a huge mistake not drafting Marquese Chriss of the University of Washington (and a local kid) in the first round. The young power forward is starting for the Phoenix Suns and showing tons of promise. Of course Marquese has to grow as a player, but he is not a project the way the King's Greek is. A slow footed big man??? Really, Vlade? How many teams are winning with slow footed bigs these days?
As for the present team, I got to hand it to Dave Joerger, he's got a team composed of a bunch of vets (Cousins excluded and apologies to Rudy) who'd have a hard time being starters on any other team in the NBA playing well on both ends of the court. Not well enough to win, but not embarrassing themselves. Once Coach Joerger can get his men to become a fourth quarter team, they might win some of the games that they presently can't close. I suspect that if, and its a big IF, the Kings management can provide Coach Joerger with some talent, he'll bring winning seasons to Sacramento.
However. (Isn't there always a however?) Why is it that the Kings can't play consistent aggressive defense, particularly in the fourth quarter? In most cases when that is the question, the answer is the team is not in shape physically. Might that be possible?
Karate by Stanley Plumly
If I could chop wood.
If I could just cut through
and stacks of boards,
if I could break the back
of a single two-by-four,
if the Japaneses instructor would only
lay his little building
in front of me,
if I could only drive nails
deep into the hard rose of the wood.
Posted by Tom Meschery at 9:35 AM