meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2016-07-03

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.

Friday, July 8, 2016

It's Organic, Like Eating Healthy

Kevin Durant said of his future teammates, "It felt like they weren't even in the NBA. It felt like those guys just got together and played pickup ball every day. I really enjoy pure basketball, and that's what I wanted."

The Bay Area has a history of playground basketball. . .

So, welcome to the Warrior Playground, Kevin Durant.Your presence has made the Golden Gate Bridge a little more Golden.

There, I couldn't be more clear, can I? I adore Durant's offense, his selflessness, his modesty, his desire to be a team player. These skills and traits are as natural to him as the limbs of his body.

But what about defense and boards? I'm not trying to be a "downer" in the middle  of  this joyful celebration, but we should not forget that Harrison Barnes was a strong defender and a strong rebounder. It is not that Kevin doesn't play D, but I don't think it's as "organic" to him as the other parts of his game. In the middle of all this bru-ha-ha, we should not forget that the Warriors are at their best on offense when they play lock-down defense. Those fast breaks, open shots, mismatches the last two seasons didn't simply materialize out of thin air.

I'm a basketball player. I have to think as one. The game is played on both ends of the court. I'm not telling the Warriors' coaching staff anything they don't know. But in this three-point-era, it's worth repeating again and again. D Wins Games.   

Paging through a book of poetry, I came upon this lovely, oldy-but-goody quatrain. It seems to me a very Warrior kind of poem.

Who Misses or Who Wins    by William Makepeace Thackeray

Who misses or who wins the prize
Go lose or conquer as you can;
But if you fall, or if you rise,
Be each, pray God, a gentleman.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Almost Numb

The minute I hear the news that Kevin Durant has joined Stephan Curry and Klay Thompson to create the greatest three point shooting triumvirate, I emailed Rick Welts, the Warrior COO. He wrote back, "Almost numb."

The first thought that comes to mind is that not only have the Warriors acquired the best three point shooting stretch forward in the history of the game, they have acquired one of the nicest men in the league. All you have to do is watch the video of Kevin's tribute to his mother, and you know his character is decent, caring, thoughtful and principled. The good guy Warriors are a perfect fit.

The second thought I had is how will any team in the NBA be able to close out fast enough on a floor spaced by these three dead-eye shooters? And let's not forget Draymond Green, who is capable of hitting threes accurately as well.

The next thought that occurred to me was that this team, given the players' average ages, could turn into a dynasty. I'm not testing the Universe, but I don't see a lot of  holes in this team. The stretch forward was always a bit of a conundrum up to now, Harrison unable for one reason or another, to reach his potential. A good young man, I hope he does well on his new team.

The last super star stretch forward the Warriors had was Rick Barry. His jersey hangs in the rafters above Oracle Arena. There is no doubt in my mind that Durant's will too one of these days, along with Curry, Thompson, and Green. Welcome to the rafters, guys.

Okay, Joe, you and Peter, Jerry and Bob are studs. One team on the court, another equally talented team off the court running the show.

Haiku for Durant     by Tom Meschery

His arm snakes backwards
   Hands cupping the basketball

Over his head lovingly

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The NBA Cap Craziness

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old retired NBA player, I'd like to say one thing about the recent free agency signings: ARE YOU ALL F--KING CRAZY?

Ian Mahinni @ $64, mil for 4 years?
Jon Leuer @ $42 mil for four years?
Bismack Biyombo @$72 mil for four years?
Marvin Williams @ $54 mil for four years.
Eric Gordon @$53 mil for four years and he hasn't played a full season without significant injuries his entire NBA career.

The Mavs are going to offer Harrison Barnes $95 million over four years, and the Warriors will have to match that offer to keep a player who is a strong defender, but has not improved his offensive game since his rookie year. Sorry, Harrison, I've been a fan of yours, but I'm right, and you know it.

There are a few signings that seem okay to me, but okay in the sense that they're not insane like the ones I've listed above. Ryan Anderson can't defend, but he is a proven 3 pt shooter. Al Horford is worth every penny. Courtney Lee at $50 mil is high, but he's a proven vet. There's no way I'd pay Luol Deng who's losing his skills, $72 mil, but I'm not upset as he's a stand-up tough veteran who's never let his team down. The Sacramento Kings are going to pay Aaron Afflalo $50 mil for two years, (probably less than half guaranteed) which, given the new cap, is not a bad deal considering Aaron has one-on-one skills and plays defense. I'm hoping the Kings won't sign Dion Waiters. There's never been a Syracuse player who's had a clue how to play man-defense, plus, by all accounts, Waiters has some locker room issues. The Kings already have one Six-Foot-Eleven Locker-Room Issue.

Speaking of  Issues. Do the Hawks really think they can win with Dwight Howard? 

Is it just me? I know all of these contracts are not entirely guaranteed, some maybe not at all, but so what? There's got to be some principle taken into account. I compare it to teaching. Do you give a student who's earned a C, a B, or a B student an A? All I can think of is the NBA is deflating excellence and rewarding mediocrity at the expense of their truly proven All-Stars.

What all the NBA teams should be doing with this increase in the cap is tearing up the contracts of their dedicated, proven All Stars (Stephan Curry comes to mind) and paying them some of the bucks going to these also-rans. Then, tell John Leur's agent (and similar C students) they're ready to sign him for 4 mil a year for two years, no guarantees and if he doesn't like it, he can see if there's a spot for his player in China. Mahini can go back to France for I care, or anybody should care.Mozgov, 64 mil? Are you kidding me? Kent Bazemore, 70 mil? After the third pass he doesn't have a clue who he's guarding.

Does anybody think Jeremy Lin's contract is a teensy-weensy bit high? Where are the NBA's standards? What messages are we sending our kids with these inflated contracts? You get an A if you simply show up for class? And don't believe for a second that this is an isolated problem in this country. How many CEOs of multi-national corporations are truly earning their pay and frigging stock options? Have we become a country of Dwight Howards?

Shouldn't we become a country of Dwayne Wades, LeBron James', Kevin Durants and Stephan Currys?

A serious blog deserves a lighthearted poem: Chinese Checkers is not a sport, but what the heck, it's life..

Chinese Checkers   by Arleen Cohen

The dragons
tells me how to move,
like a grasshopper across
the multi-colored field
springing from hole to hole
outmaneuvering the beetles.

I see the sacred star
and one by one
I deposit my eggs
until  it is
filled and full.