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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, March 29, 2021

Kings Make Smart Trades and Other Comments about Trades and Buyouts.

It appears that the owner of the Sacramento Kings - my default team after the Golden State Warriors - has finally hired an intelligent General Manager. GM Monte McNair's solid move to improve the Kings' reserves is proof to me that he knows what he's doing. The bench is now taller, longer, more athletic and better shooters. McNair stood pat with his starters, although my guess is he was sorely tempted to get a bunch of first and second round draft choices for a very desirable Harrison Barnes. Patience is a virtue. It is also important to remember that Harrison is only 28 years old, which some GMs and owners these days believe is long in the tooth. Take into consideration the great Dubs championship teams that were made of of a mix of youngsters (Step and Klay) and vets.(Igudala and Livingston). Delon Wright, Terrence Davis and even "long in the tooth" Maurice Harkless are huge upgrades over Walton's previous choices to relieve starters. With apologies to Cory Joseph, who I always liked for his smarts and tough D, but athletic he was not. McNair seems to be telling Kings fans that he is holding pat until the end of the season before making any BIG moves, and at the same time demonstrating some confidence that by creating a stronger bench, Luke Walton has the weapons to make it into the play-in tourney. A big V for Sacto if that happens. 

As far as other NBA teams. I think the Nets acquiring Aldridge on a buyout and the Lakers getting Drummond on a buyout are moves that border on the pathetic.. The Lakers must not be very confident in Gasol or that AD will be back and in form by playoffs. The Nets? I don't get  it at all. They have a wonderful discovery in their rookie Nicolas Claxon in the post. So what is their need at the power forward? Aldridge, a slow, pick and pot guy and Griffin not nearly the player he was. All I see is congestion in the paint, which will make it more difficult for Harden and Irving to drive? Is there an unspoken problem with KD that calls for midrange offense and bully boards? Do A & G really help on D? 

Good for the Magic. All in for youth. Has Bamba got it or not? Get draft choices, lot os them. Wendell Carter Jr. is young and could be a great future backup if Bamba proves to be the Big of the future. .Two first round picks and two in the second round, plus their own picks, not a bad haul.  

I think Miami helped themselves, by getting Oladipo, if only to light a fire under Herro. But, no doubt, Victor might be just enough addional scoring for the Heat to get back on track. The 76ers helped themselves with solid veteran guard, George Hill. Every NBA team should have one George Hill on its team. Wouldn't the Warriors love to have him for a couple of years, another Livingston type? 

Nuggets got a huge upgrade at the back up center position with JaVale McGee. I see lots of dunks when he's on the court giving Jocic a rest. Got to rest the big Serb for the playoffs.  

I'm afraid the Celtic didn't help themselves very much with Evan Fournier and Mo Wagner. They will miss Theis' toughness. If Wagner had Theis' toughness, he'd be a the center the Celtics are looking for. . 

Vucevic to the Bulls says they are committed to winning now. We'll see. I've never been a big fan of Lavine. Although he is a elite 3-point shooter, he doesn't play a smart game in my opinion. The big Finn has got to get tougher? And I worry that Vucevic will under perform in a different system. 

JJ Redick will help stretch the floor, but neither he nor Nicola Melli solve the Mavs true need, which is a true paint protector. 

We'll see if the Blazers made the right move trading Gary Trent Jr. for Norman Powell, both great 3- point shooters. Both good defenders. Nokic back will make more of a difference, although I'm not huge on the Serb. But Kantor as a back-up makes more sense than as a starter. 

For a close out poem I'm lifting from a book written by Andy Brumer called The Poetics of Golf. Don't let the lyrical title fool you jocks. If you like the sport of golf, you'll love this read. 

From "Should Lanterns Shine"  by Dylan Thomas

I have heard many years of telling,

And many years should see some change.

The ball I threw while playing in the park

Has not yet hit the ground. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Elgin Bayor Gone but Never Forgotten

I saw Elgin Baylor in a Seattle University game leap out of bounds under the opponent's basket, catch the ball in mid air and in one motion throw the ball behind his back, swiftly and accurately, to a teammate cutting just beyond the midcourt (as if he knew Baylor would pass him the ball - how could he?) at an angle and took the pass like a miracle, which I thought at the time it was, and scored. 

Baylor was the town crier announcing today's athletic NBA players. I remember Elgin because for the first years I played in the NBA starting in 1961, Baylor was my defense assignment. As great a scorer Baylor was, he never scored more than 20 points on me. Why, you might ask. The answer is simple. By the time Elgin hit his 21st point, I was already fouled out and sitting on the bench watching some other poor soul take a beating. Elgin had a head-twitch that drove defenders crazy. He'd approach on the dribble, his head twitching, left, left, right, left. What was he signaling? Head twitch left would send you left, but Baylor drove right and scored. How many times I fell for this fake I can't remember or care to. At times when you thought as a defender you'd managed to stay with him and had a chance to block his shot, he fooled you by hanging in the air (think Julius Irving before the doctor) until gravity sent you down to earth while he remained aloft. 

Later, when I became the Warriors "power" forward (Rick Barry came along to claim the stretch 3 slot) my defense assignment was Rudy LaRusso. Baylor once quipped that no Laker vs Warriors game started before Meschery and LaRusso punched it out. He was not a visionary as it happened once during an exhibition game in Montana. Rudy and I duking it out before the ref had the chance to throw the ball up for the start of the game. 

Writers mention that Baylor was not as successful as a GM. Who cares. Elgin Baylor's legacy remains on the court, or in the air. Or in the universe where he now resides and in our fond memories. 

Found this on line. There was no mention of the writer.   


He defied air first,

before the Doc or the Hawk

and all the other species of birds

in the NBA sky.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Few Comments Going into All Star Break 2021

 Six teams in the west: LA Lakers, LA Clips, Phoenix, Utah, Denver locked in for the playoffs, (based on volume of skilled personnel) after that it's a flip of the coin. Same holds true in the East. Only Philly, Brooklyn, Miami, and Milwaukee seem like a sure thing for reaching the finals of the playoffs before the coin goes up. It's been a weird season to say the least. So many teams are one injury or COVID restrictions from looking very ordinary, which demonstrates the value of certain players, and not necessarily scorers. Example, the Celtics loss of Marcus Smart on D. Or what happens to Phoenix and Utah if Chris Paul and Michael Connelly are lost before the playoffs?  The Blazers are hugely vulnerable if, say Derrick Jones is lost to them. Doubt me, check out his importance on defense, and shot blocking. Carmelo is still not a good defender. Will McCallum be back? There are too many X factors within the shadow of an already bizarre season to make a decent prediction beyond those few teams I've mentioned, and then maybe not even those top dogs..How about AD comes back, all's good, right? But then Caruso and Kuzma go down? Okay, just Caruso goes down. Does anybody doubt the Lakers loses significant point guard smarts, hustle, and chutzpah. 

Oh, well. 

Let's look at a couple of dark-horse teams I'm especially high on going into break. .

Recently I've come to love the look of the Washington Wizards as Bradley Beale and Russell Westbrook look like they play well together. All the Wiz positions seem to be jelling. Big Hair Lopez is clogging up the middle and can score that little hook of his. Hachimua (Japan's going nuts) is a quintessential power forward with mid-range shooting skills. Neto has been a surprise. Bertains can light it up from the 3. 

I'm also impressed with Charlotte. LeMelo is the real deal I was not willing at the start of the season to concede. Who'd have picked them to be second in their division at All Star break? LeMelo is going to be Rookie of the Year if he keeps doing what he's doing, which is as a down-hill-pressure-applier. 

And high fives to the Knicks. They'd be filling the Garden were it not for COVID. Tibs''great coaching, players playing aggressively on both ends. Immanuel Quigley a huge surprise. Perhaps a star is born. 

And finally a sad word about my home team, the Sacramento Kings, not to be confused with my real home team, the Warriors of San Francisco, ie Golden State. When you consider good teams are vulnerable with the loss of a key player, what does that mean for weak teams? If one key player goes down for the Kings, like Halibruton was down for the Charlotte Hornets game, its catastrophe. But there is more to say about the Kings unique form of catastrophe. 

Watching the Kings over a season, I've often thought that they'd been cursed. How can so many things go wrong for a franchise since Coach Rick Adelman was fired? Perhaps that's where they made their first mistake. Putting aside universally crazy mistakes such as hiring Vlade Divac as GM without an ounce of experience, let's consider what's going on with the present Kings. 

They have ABSOLUTELY no clue how to play DEFENSE  both individually and as a team. I have never seen such slow close-outs, no wonder opponents burn them from the 3 point line. One player playing team D right and 4 playing it wrong, or four playing it right and 1 playing it wrong does not cut it. I have written of this before. Since no one on the Kings is reading my blog, it's time for me to place the blame where it MUST belong - on the coach. You can't talk defense, Coach Walton, but not insist on it. You can not talk D, and not teach it. You got to own it. 

Therefore, it is time for GM McNair to find a new coach. New and new coaching staff, Not an interim coach and interim staff. A clean sweep McNair needs to do it now or as soon as possible, so the new coach and staff he choses has what's left of the season to TEACH AND INSIST. 

I'm not suggesting trades. Unless there is a perfect stud that will make a profound difference, the present roster has enough skills going for it, baring injuries, to start a culture. Trades can come in the summer. There certainly needs significant reserves improvement. But even so, fans calling for wholesale trades should consider how many games the Kings scored well enough to win, but lost because they couldn't guard their grandmothers.

Watching the Aussie Open last week, came across this small, wonderful little poem about tennis;

OLD TENNIS PLAYER  by Gwendolyn Brooks


To refuse the racket, to mutter No to the net,

He leans to life, conspires to give and get

Others serving yet.  


Monday, February 8, 2021

A Word of Warning & etc.

If it hasn't been said already, I'm saying it now. Be careful making predictions based on the teams you're watching on TV these days. Between COVID protocols, injury absences, and general coaching strategies to rest vets, todays teams will not be the same teams you see after the NBA All-Star break. For example, the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat will be far more impressive once the playoff push begins. I am basing this on the season getting back to normal as vaccines become more available and all the teams get their full rosters free of injuries on the court. 

I'm sure the pundits are noticing, but if they're not, the Sacramento Kings 12th pick in last years draft, Tyrese Haliburton, looks like he should have been a #1 or #2 selection based on his performance so far this season. I'm seeing a lot of Andre Igudala genes in him, that is he consistently makes clutch plays and clutch shots. And I love his calm. Leadership written all over him. 

On the subject of the Kings, Marvin Bagely lll, even while he is improving and is certainly working harder, remains a question mark. He seems physically weak to me. For the future of the Kings, he needs to be a stretch 3. It is the one position on the court the Kings are lacking. If they had one this season with Harrison Barnes in a  good place and playing extremely well at the 4, the Kings, led by a dynamic (Nate Archibald clone) DeAaron Fox, would have a strong chance of making the playoffs. But the absence of a solid 3 is a hole in their team that must be filled before they can get to that playoff level.    

Back to the draft: James Wiseman of the Warriors still remains in my mind the best long term impact pick of last years draft. Go Dubs!

It was said before the draft that it was not going to be such a great year for rookies. I think the rooks are proving the pundits wrong. Ball and Edwards, for example, look like the real deal. So does Achewa of the Heat. 

About the future draft, I recently watched Cad Cunningham, supposedly numero uno in next years draft. Word is he's the next Jason Tatum. Cad is good, but I don't think he's that explosive. Need to check on the other possibilities. The same evaluators who said last year's draftees were not going to be strong, are predicting this years players are much better.  

Is anyone wondering where the Timberwolves will wind up after center Carl Anthony Towns returns? (Hopefully in a good frame of mind and ball ready)  The wolves have found a really solid back up center and Edwards is the answer to their lack of an impact stretch 3. Kid can light it up. Can they get better on D? I'm hoping. Don't ask me why, but I have a soft sport for the Timberwolves since they got Ricky Rubio, and now he's back to end his career where he started. 

Can the Nets get better on D? Big Q. It is well documented by now that you can't go far in the playoffs without a solid defense..

Finally, what's the deal with Durant? I'm a little worried about where his head is since he left the Warriors. Am I mistaken, or is there a kind of arrogance or poutishness that wasn't there before. HisTweet Free Me, for example, sounds like a spoiled teenager. Comparing the NBA's strict COVID19 policy to a Wack ass PR tactic, is profoundly ignorant of the seriousness of this world pandemic. We're just lucky the NBA has been able to give us games at all. So, Kevin, put on your big boy pants and do some thinking. 

Instead of a poem, I'm going to end my blog with a suggestion. Do yourselves a favor folks. Go on line and find an editorial essay written by Leonard Pitts Jr of the Miami Herald called It is Different Being Us published in my newspaper The Sacramento Bee today, Monday 8th, 2021. It is Back History Month and what Mr. Pitts has to say and how he says it will inform your lives. I promise you. .


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

I Guess the Season Has Started

 The Harden trade completed, sending players hither and yon - confusing the hell out of my wife, who has no idea where Westbrook is playing these days -  the NBA 2021 season has officially started. 

A few words about the Hardin trade. The Beard gets the bad Karma award for dissing Rockets. Houston made you,James, have a little more class.I join everybody's question mark: how will the trio of Irving, Durant and Harden manage minutes and touches. If coaches can figure it out, offense will be unstoppable. However, championships are won on the D side, and Hardin can't defend, while Kyrie is not enthusiastic about defending beyond the first pass. DeAndre Jordan still can't shoot free-throws. And Nets are going to miss Mr. Super Afro a lot. 

Standings as of today, January 20 (Trump's Departure Date HOOWAH!): Under-performers of note are the Nuggets at 6/7; and Miami at 5/7. I'm real high on the Heats' Precious Achiuwa. How can you not love a 6"8",260 pound power forward?  Just what the doctor ordered to help Bam. (Bam & Precious) Heat lineup will solidify, then look for them to compete for Eastern Conference title again. 

Ditto, Nuggets in the West. Jocic trimmed and slimmed down body is a monster. Missing Jerami Grant, but Nuggets can upset anybody. Maybe not the Lakers who have better players all around than they did last season. Schroeder vs Rando, for one example. How the hell did the Raptors let Ibaka and Gasol leave. Huge mistake. Owners gotta pony up. You're zillionaires, pay the damn luxury tax. . 

Checking the rest of the league: I don't have a lot of faith in the Bucks to win the East. That is unless Giannis suddenly starts shooting a better percentage from the field. Again, it's all about playoffs, that's when defense picks up dramatically and all the teams are on to his drive/spin move. Oh, he'll score all right, but teams will sag off him and play him for the drive. The Clippers are going to miss Montrzel big time. Lucky they got Ibaka, but the Clips will miss Mantrzel's husstle points. Big Q, is, will Paul George be there during post season? 

Pundits seem high on the Suns. I buy that with Paul as distributor and Ayton growing into his talent. Jae Crowder, a great two -way guard pick up. Portland was high on my list at the start of this year, but now that they lost Nurkic (maybe for a season) and McCollum for at least a month, things not so rosy. I'm happy for Carmelo making a comeback but don't trust his court sense. Without Nurkic and a healthy McCollum, Dame can only carry this team into the playoffs. Good pick up of Jones.

Boston has got to find somebody in the post. Might have found a point guard of the future in Oegon Duck Pritchard. Hard to tellright now what kind of team they'll become later in the season.. They might very well surprise folks as it gets down to the wire. Philly, what can I say? Simmons can't shoot. Embid is physically unreliable. If Embid is really healthy at the end of the season, they can win the East.

Dallas needs a tough minded Big. Cauley Stein doesn't cut it. Imagine if the Mavs had, for exampe, Capella around the rim with Doncic passing. Porzingis is another player with unreliable physical health issues. There's some chatter about the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell needs a second All Star at the wing. Bogan is a fine catch-and shoot to stretch the floor, but he can't really create for himself. 

Atlanta will be strong all season, but need something? I'm open to suggestions. They brought in enough players to assure they win their division. But compete for the East?  What's missing? Indiana Pacers is another team that remain dangerous about seven deep then, a drop off. Warren injured hurts. LeVert from the Nets will help. 

Finally, what to say about my Warriors? This year's playoffs depend on how fast rookie first rounder, James Wiseman grows into his awesome potential. He seems like a fast learner. Check back with me after All Star break. I'll leave it at that. 

On this day of transition, Thank God, from Trump to a real, caring, President, Joe Biden, I offer the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, and her inauguration poem. Too long to post. Find it on any site.