Tag Archives: Steve Kerr

NBA.F17: Resting Has Warriors Besting LeBron’s Backs-to-the-Wall Gang

6 Jun

It was as plain as even the rather small nose on the forlorn face of Stephen Curry as he watched his Golden State Warriors in the closing seconds of last June’s NBA Finals, about to drop their third game, second in a row, to their fierce foes the Cleveland Cavaliers who were going to take game six (115-101) and even-up the Series at 3-3, the defending champs having squandered a 3-1 lead: The 2016 single-season record setters in victories (73) were, not surprisingly, dog tired.

It had been a whirlwind campaign of championship and achievements for the Bay boys, having bested LeBron’s bunch in Finals 2015 (4-2), his 2d Cleveland tenure, then almost running the table the following regular season to reach those 2016 Finals only to fall short (3-4) to what in the aftermath must’ve seemed a certain James’ destiny to bring a first NBA title to his native Ohio.

That Wars’ leader and star Curry had bagged two (2) consecutive MVP awards added just that much more glitter, and pressure, to their mostly joyous run.

So when coach Steve Kerr & Company failed to complete the technical dynasty (at least two (2) sequential championships), all asked, ‘What happened?’

LeBron James happened, of course, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

The following is an excerpt of an article I wrote last July in wake of Wars unexpected collapse and Cavs historical comeback win, postulating what was a major factor in the result and what the future (F17) held in store:

“The weary factor: It’s why Warriors failed to close the deal on what might’ve been the greatest season in NBA history. Ironically, those 73 RS wins that put them on precipice of immortality were also the reason why they fell short. Winning that many takes its toll, as previewed in the WC final vs OKC (4-3) where the champs had to pull their fat outta’ the fire just to move on. Of course, those 1995-96 Bulls piled a weary-worthy total themselves in their super season (72-10) and still managed to take the title vs Seattle (4-2). Just sayin.’

Rubbermaid® NBA Finals 2017

NBA’s powers-that-be salivate over thought of a Cavs – Wars 3-peat. Who’s gonna’ stop ‘em, besides the injury bug? That the Association’s quality of competition rating is at lowest ebb since the scaling was first calibrated by this writer some years back, matters not in the least to the Cufflinks, the same frat-boys who think tanking’s a joke, as long as the Big Celebrities make it to the Big Party, i.e., LeBron, Stevo, Durantula, Love & Irving.

Even if Durant does work a small drain of the splash-pool and Lue takes no action to teach Kyrie who’s #1 (James) and fundamentals of point play, i.e., ‘See the ball, set a play, pass the ball,’ these two teams should have little trouble making it into next season’s Finals, again barring any notable injury issues.

If they do meet, it’s Warriors who likely take the rubber-match.

Kyrie Irving’s not about to learn that kindergarten starter-skill called sharing and former All-Star Kevin Love is now so marginalized by team & press that LeBron’s gonna’ lose whatever hair he has left by season’s end.

For the Oaklanders, they’ve already got the 73, the substantive one (See; B.Bonds (‘01)), and Kerr will make damn sure his men are better rested this time in event they make the WC finals. Sixty-plus should get home-court…no tanking, mind you, but Stevo will give his starters…respites as needed to avoid weariness that turned splash into a prolonged belly-flop in G5-7 (https://stevenkeys.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/nba17-too-many-cooks-spoil-the-splash-but-cavs-wars-are-rubbermade-for-re-match/).”

So, did Kerr work to curb enthusiasm in a strategy to help ensure his men had enough Finals end-game this time around? The six (6) fewer regular season victories (67-15) suggests he might have. Of course, having 2014 MVP Kevin Durant rostered this season has certainly played a part to ease some burden, maintain energy levels, while at the same time easing his own workload for the first time since his rookie NBA campaign in 2007 (Seattle (OKC)).

Which brings this Series, this terrific NBA trilogy of titledom that may someday rival the fantastic Lakers v. Boston feud of the 80s (Jordan never had a great rivalry) to its critical point: Game 3. It’s winner will likely win these Finals, for a third W for the Wars will break Cleveland’s spirit while a Cavs victory will enspirt a team that seems to play best when their backs are to the wall.

We might even get one of those forever frozen in time moments, as when Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, at center for Jabbar, scored on that baby hook-shot late to steal G5 (?) in the Garden, going a long way in helping LA win the ‘87 Series and then the rightful claim to supremecy as the decade‘s best. We might.

Steven Keys
Nothing But Net
Photo credit: basketball-net, wc.cca, 1995, static; S.Kerr-NBA.referee, wc, 2.24.25, K.Allison; S.Curry, wc, N.Salzman, 4.6.14; Love-Irving-James, 10.1.14, wc, E.Drost;
Posted: 6.6.17 @ 6:45p EST; Copyright © 2017

NFL16 Cherry Picks W11: Pax Patriotana, Caesar Trumpus, Mamarazzi & the Demigoths

15 Nov

I started cutting my political teeth way back in 1968.

I remember the year because it was an event, a national tragedy that began the process: The assassination of Bobby Kennedy (d. 6.6.68), younger brother and AG of slain President John Kennedy (d. 11.22.63), who, after that dreadful day in Dallas, would go on to become Senator from New York and then Democratic presidential candidate, at a rally in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles.

I can’t say any news outside the home, no matter its import, could’ve shook my young world at age six. But upon hearing the shocking report, my older brothers had headed over to the Humphrey – Muskie headquarters somewhere on the North Shore of Chicago, to throw their support behind the next most viable opponent of GOP front-runner, Richard Nixon. When they returned they had a cachet of campaign buttons, a few of which ended up in my tiny hands, along with a bumper sticker which still reads: “McCarthy Supporters Now For Humphrey.”

kennedys-wc-1-29-61-c-stoughton-626kAs for the turbulent Democratic convention about ten miles south, a ruckus that started in the streets and probably sealed the win for Nixon, I didn’t have a clue. Tooth enamel’s tough stuff.

It’s funny how a single event or piece of political paraphernalia, as ephemeral as it may be, can shape one’s life. I’ve had an interest in politics bordering on passion ever since. And, by jove, still have the mementos from that oh-so sad, significant day.

When my baby teeth fell out, I started to cutting the permanents.

I devoured my share of “heaping helping(s)” of empty TV calories for sure (Josie and the Pussycats, Gilligan’s Island, etc.) but ate up good servings of brain food in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Electric Company (1971), ABC Wide World of Sports and the evening news delivered by legends like Cronkite, Brinkley, Reasoner, Huntley, Walters and Chancellor.

And it was Parker Brothers and their board-game Landslide (1971) that gave me hands-on experience with the electoral college and how presidential campaigns must roll their own dice in strategizing on the States. My teeth were sharpening, though, my friend Tom who owned the board game must’ve had a Trump skill-set because he out-tallied me every time. Gotta’ romance those swing States.

But that passion turned downright frigid in lead-up to 2016’s election day.

Not a big fan of Donald or Hillary, I will, nonetheless, honor the November 8th win, respect the authority of Office and hope for the best, in opposite of that .00003174% of Americans, including LeBron James, Gregg Popovich (“sick to my stomach”) & Steve Kerr who’ve chosen to ‘take their ball and run home’ because they didn‘t like the result. Best advice for the Neo-Visigoths: Find a copy of Edward Everett Hale’s ‘The Man Without a Country (1863)’ and read in deep.

Clearly, the campaign to win and then keep basketball player’s “hearts and minds” is a never-ending effort for the NBA coach. So much for trust, eh? Ugh.

clinton-6-10-16-pp-wc-11-2m-l-shaullAnd Hillary Clinton is no loser.

Taking the popular vote is champion and aught win the White House in a democracy. But unlike Al Gore in 2000, whose loss of Florida’s electors constituted the biggest heist job in American history, with the DC Robes as accomplices after-the-fact (Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98), Ms. Clinton never came close to taking the college kitty. In short, the lady blew her chance.

But that doesn’t make her a mascot to suffer the mamarazzi.

Reference to Margo Gerster who, with baby-on-back, cornered Hill on a nature walk two days after the draining election, thinking it proper to void Hillary’s (& Bill’s) privacy to solicit a Facebook moment (What’s HC gonna’ do, tell mom to take a hike?), an image widely disseminated soon thereafter, finding CBS (“Hiker Crosses Paths”), CNN (Erin Burnett) and whomever else feeds the faux pas. Bad play, ladies. And where were the Secret Service? But I’m not surprised.

At first blush the electoral college appears antiquated, anti-democracy and whenever it veers off from the popular vote, always ends in GOP hands.

But a historical tidbit unbeknownst to Demigoths and the normally insightful Bill Maher, the EC is a test the Founders necessitated that a deserving candidate must pass, a test still relevant. The winner must possess the savvy, the wherewithal in mastering the map to sway voters State-by-State, and in the process acquiring a healthy respect for the union that is this United (50) States of America.

The first black president seems now an entitlement, the first female Commander-in-Chief knowing she must, in famous words of John Houseman, “eeeearn it.”

obama-trump-11-10-16-jesusemen-oni-voa-119kThe former First Lady lost the election long before the elector test or her “deplorable” line and had nearly nothing to do with any FBI commentary. In failing to distinguish herself from her former boss, President Barack Obama, majority voters in key States made a statement: ‘Not tough enough, and not again, or for awhile, anyway.’

Most Americans had high hopes when the first minority took up residence in the White House in 2009. Obama was short on experience, seemed, apart from the birth certificate confusion, almost too perfect for the post and resorted to his own form of flippancy when topics got hot, but his ready smile gave assurance and he seemed eager to take on the big challenges that awaited.

Obama will be remembered for four actions: 1) Brokering the deal with America’s healthcare “monster(s)” to create Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (NFIB (2012)), costing greedmeisters next to nothing yet heaping much of the tax burden upon the middle-class (contra-FDR); 2) advising on capture / execution of 9-11 designer, terrorist Osama bin Laden (2011); 3) taking sides in the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman incident (2013) (“Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago”) after attacker Martin died of a gunshot fired by block watch volunteer Zimmerman who claimed self-defense, was charged and then acquitted, and 4) picking his NCAA basketball tourney bracket selections come March Madness.

Unfortunately, on the one issue that Obama was particularly well-suited to keep moving the nation forward, race-relations, he has instead presided over what can be called a period of race regression, a sorry state not seen since Reagan-Bush.

As for Donald, he’s sharp as a tack, has energy and an undeniable charisma, a pride in his person and nation and a certain maverickness that McCain the Senator never displayed, a trait lacking in Presidents for quite a spell (LBJ). But his anti-choice stand feels political, must check his habit to flippancy (global warming) and his disdain for regulation (Dodd-Frank), market-place competition and American jobs (monopolist) bespeaks of a boyish greed potentially more disastrous economically than Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down goof.

trump-wc-11-9-16-transition2017-450kMost troubling is that neither candidate exhibited the foresight, honesty, courage to put the voters to a test in self-sacrifice (“ask what you can do for your country (JFK)”), a national unifier if there ever was one. No measurable progress happens without it.

It’d be analogous to Roger Goodell having chutzpah to ditch pink-wear in favor of a field-friendly color for all cancer victims and research (dark green), to use his bully-pulpit to force NFLPA to institute serious PED-testing or to tell NFL fans and sport scribes who curry favor to stop the incessant whine on game officiating come each “Monday morning.” Ugh.

So what does Trump-the-President mean for the NFL and its fandom?

A President, no matter the political party, usually has little impact on League operations or policy. But if a particular Commander-in-Chief has a real interest in the gridiron game, any comments he makes will make news.

And this president-elect might actually have an interest.

President Obama put on a good show, giving warm congratulatory speeches in welcome to a steady stream of title teams that now visit the White House for one more pat-on-their-collective back. But while he’s a love for the links, Barack appears to have no interest in the combative sports (+b-ball). And though he lacks the competitive spirit that led the Kennedys to engage the pigskin for some lawn version touch-football, Don clearly has a curiosity for the National game.

Which toggles four sport topics on Trump: 1) The future of White House pep-rallies now that monarchial King LeBron has given thumbs-down with Trump-soon in residence; 2) What NFL team does Donald Trump favor; 3) how happy is Redskins owner Dan Snyder today, and 4) will the President-elect and his immigration blueprint alter future NFL – Mexico game plans?

redskins-chiefzee-wc-2-4m-k-allison-1-10-16Since the 1970s America’s seen a prodigious growth in sporting endeavors, champions of which nearly all seem to find their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So was born a new tradition that’s become about as tired as the never-ending supply of Law & Order reruns, diverting CICs from pressing duties or the down-time that a President must take to keep sound in mind & body in the most stressful job on Earth. Time then the custom gave way to common sense and got terminated by the new Prez. As Trump doesn’t need another reason to tick-off female Dems in cancelling only the less-popular women’s visits, if it happens (sure), expect him to can the whole kit n’ kaboodle.

Who’s Trump’s top NFL team? A New Yorker, he may be a Giants, Jets or Bills fan. If his ties to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are sincere, it’s good chance he’s Foxborough friendly. Like Barack, he’s always working an angle so it’s hard to get a read. If it is the Pats, Don’s hitching his wagon to arguably the greatest pro football dynasty in history. In 2016, the Cowboys believe, Carroll’s crew never quits, Big Ben’s 5-star field general, John Harbaugh mastered the pros and Bruce Arians coaches the Cards, but it’s New England, with their rare loss (SEA 11.13), that remains Empire’s standard.

To the Washington Redskins and their war-in-defense of their 82 yr. old moniker against a niche effort spearheaded by Oneida’s Ray Halbritter and taken up in 2012 by johnny-come-latelies in corporate kids-for-change, malleable media, Democrat elite, a smattering of celebs and the Washington Post whose polling reported “9 of 10” aboriginal Americans are not offended by the motif, a new President in Republicrat Trump will undoubtedly lead to a more sensible, honest directive given the Department of Commerce and its Patent & Trademark Office. Court cases are pending but it’s likely this and other PC-appeasing stands taken by Dems held some sway over mod-voters in swingers. It didn’t help, anyway.

As for the impact the recent American election will have on the NFL – Mexico business relationship, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will publicly downplay its significance but if a border-wall does become reality (doubtful), it’s hard to imagine its continuation. It will be interesting to see if Texans v. Raiders MNF game will out-draw the last record-setting NFLM meet in 2005 between Arizona and San Francisco which drew 103,000+ at Estadio Azteca.

cherries-wc-cca-b-kua-6-1-08-3-3mCherry Picks Week 11: Thank goodness for the spread

Saints (4-5) @ Carolina (3-6): 11.17 NBC 8:30: NO wins
Ravens (5-4) @ Dallas (8-1): 11.20 CBS 1:00: BAL wins
Jacksonville (2-7) @ Lions (5-4): CBS 1:00: Lions win
Tennessee Titans (5-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-5): CBS 1:00: Indy wins
Buffalo Bills (4-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1): Fox 1:00: Bengals win
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: Fox 1:00: Chiefs win
Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-4): Fox 1:00: Cards win
Miami Dolphins (5-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-5): Fox 4:05: Dolphins wins
Philadelphia (5-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1): CBS 4:25: Seahawks win
Green Bay Pack (4-5) @ Washington Redskins (5-3-1): NBC 8:30: GB wins
Houston Texans (6-3) @ Oakland (Mex): 11.21 Disney 8:30: Houston wins

Record: 45 – 51 -2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: B.Belichick, wc.cca, K.Allison, 8.28.9; Kennedys, wc, C.Stoughton, 1.29.61; H.Clinton, wc, 6.10.16, PlannedParenthood, L.Shaull; Trump-Obama, wc, 11.10.16, Jesusemen-Oni.VOA; D.Trump, wc, Transition2017, 11.9.16; M.Trump-M.Obama, theWhiteHouse, wc, 11.10.16; ChiefZee, Redskins-DC, K.Allison, 1.10.16, wc; cherries, wc, B.Kua, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 11.15.16 @ 2:34pm, edit @ 11:36 EST; Copyright © 2016

NBA17: Too Many Cooks Spoil the Splash But Cavs & Wars Are Rubbermade for Re-Match

11 Jul

The McGinnis Moral

New Oakland area teammates Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry just might be the awesome version of the dynamic George McGinnis and Julius Erving duo that took Philadelphia and the NBA by storm forty years ago. A little less muscle but the finesse factor is fairly even, Steven.

To people of the 70s, those who followed the pro hardwood game, Dyan Cannon and Jack Nicholson for example, the names McGinnis and Erving side-by-side speak volumes about the risk in packing a roster too liberally ($) with star power.

........Durant.wc.K.Allison.2-14.thmOwner Irv Kosloff (‘63) already had his Philadelphia 76ers well stocked for the 1975-76 NBA season with the likes of All-Stars Doug Collins, Steve Mix, World B. Free, ‘67 champ Billy Cunningham and then big new addition from Indiana in former ABA superstar George McGinnis. But that team would exit early in R1 of those playoffs to Bob McAdoo’s Buffalo Braves (SD-LAC). So later that year new owner Fitz Eugene Dixon would “add another hue unto the rainbow (de Vere)” in corralling the other decorated ace from the closing-for-business American in the person of New York Nets’ Julius “Dr. J” Erving under the theory ‘you can’t have too much of a good thing.’

The consecutive annual signings of players the caliber of McGinnis & Erving appeared at the time to be a straddle of that fine line between bold and desperate. Only question for the more optimistic of Philly faithful was exactly how many NBA titles they’d win by the time their dynamic duo’s contracts expired. Sound familiar (See; Durant & Curry)? Some things never change.

Sadly for McGinnis and owner Dixon that much anticipated championship never materialized in their respective Sixers tenures.

.......McGinnis.smIn George’s three years in the City of Brotherly Love (‘75-78) the Sixers reached but one Final (‘77) and though they jumped out to a 2-0 lead would lose to the Jack Ramsay – Bill Walton – Maurice Lucas Portland Trailblazers, 4-2.

The grand experiment would be terminated with the former Hoosier’s shipment to Denver (‘78-79) in exchange for forward and defensive specialist Bobby Jones who’d help Philly and newer owner Harold Katz (‘81) achieve that elusive 3rd NBA championship in 1983. More importantly, it was the signing of another former ABA’er in the incomparable Moses Malone (HOU) to start that 1982 season that proved the master stroke.

Which all toggles the question, is it too many cooks (stars) that spoils the broth (team chemistry), or more particularly, having too many chefs in the kitchen with the same specialty (ball control) that can turn the porridge pudgy?

For today’s Golden State Warriors it may be the latter maxim that proves prophetic in 2016-17: Too many shooters looking to load-up n’ fire with limited ammo: Just one Spalding to go around.

......Durant.Tokyo.2010.C.Johnson.wc.thmWith Big Cheese Kevin Durant opting to leave the only team he’s known in his career (‘08-16 (OKC – SEA)) and join a well-stocked club in GSW with leadership baton well-in-hand of the MVP (x2), champion (‘15) and co-Face of the NBA in Steve Curry (See Also; LeBron), those who remember ABBA and brewmeister Billy Carter will appreciate that any talk of a coming dynasty is as premature as getting your boogie shoes out of storage in anticipation of a ♫ disco revival ♫.

When Moses led the Philly-steens to the Promised Land (’83) he filled a big man need that the Caldwell Jones – Darryl Dawkins tandem had not met. Possessing of a soft shooter’s touch, Malone was a feared force inside (24.5 / 15.3 reb) the likes of which the Assc’n had not seen since days of Bob Lanier, a game which complemented Dr. J’s drive & dunk (21.4). Big synergy, for one year, anyway.

Likewise, when James, Riley and Spoelstra turned the Heat into familiar Eastern Finals foes (‘11-14) their run of success turned on the big three in Bosh, James & Wade knowing and then maintaining distinct roles which rarely came in conflict.

.....Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbBut in Oakland, the 4-time scoring champ’s arrival presents a conundrum: How do the NBA’s two premier scorers and bona fide #1 guys concede point pile-ups and then those all important leadership reins?

Two master chefs in the same kitchen can whip up delightful concoctions but when they frequently grab for the same condiments, tempers can flare and the entrées will suffer in flavor-drain (faux-reality TV is a plague). For Durant & Curry the flavor of choice flows from the trendiest bottle on the shelf, the one labeled 3-point “zowie!”

In Kev’s nine NBA seasons he’s launched over 3000 tres (.380 (27.4)), Steve over 3500 (30.1 (‘15-16)) in just seven campaigns. While they diverge on the boards (KD: 7.0 (4.3)) and assists (SC: 6.9 (3.7)), it’s hard to imagine, however they fire ‘em off, that these two point machines can co-exist harmoniously.

From Fire to Frying Pan?

That Durant may’ve wanted a bigger market to showcase / compensate his top talent, optimize chance at winning a ring or even just a simple change of scenery, are all tenable reasons to sign with the Warriors.

......Westbrook.James.1.25.15.E.Drost.thm.wcAnd if escaping the Russ Westbrook Show, a performance like Kyrie Irving’s where the co-star never passes a chance to prove he’s a leading man, was an impetus for cleaning out his locker at Chesapeake Energy, KD would’ve been wiser to rectify that state rather than taking his talents to a theater (GSW) where #1 is set-in-stone (Curry) and he may simply re-create the same clash in talents ceded in OKC.

It was always Durant’s prerogative as Thunder’s franchise-man to have roles defined and enforced or send someone packing. That he and not Westbrook was the one who exited OKC, a city Kev was, as I suspect is RW, desirous of bringing a title, speaks to the uniqueness of Lego® LeBron who builds his own champion confections (MIA / CLE) instead of window shopping for already-made.

As for Russ, now you‘re a #1. Careful what ya’ wish for, big guy.

If It Works…

Who needs who? Does Golden State need Kev or does Kev need Golden State? Talented as is Mr. Durant, most would answer ‘no – yes’ to that query.

.....Kuhn.wc.MLB.1982.thmAnd if Bowie Kuhn were alive today and occupying the NBA Commissioner’s chair instead of Adam ‘Hi-Yo’ Silver, the Durant-to-Golden-State deal would’ve been nixed as contrary to “the best interest of (the Association).”

Just when it looked like NBA was gonna’ get interesting again with this 7-game 2016 Finals, the wealth of talent coalesces and we get a further shrinking of the field of competition in its aftermath, like life’s blood squeezing through an ever-narrowing artery. The succinct critique: Rich get richer, mediocre multiply.

Kevin, with all good intentions at team play, may actually make the Warriors a lesser team by working the same effect-in-awkwardness that did the teaming of Erving and McGinnis in 1976, talented men just as determined to championize.

What Warriors could use is another strong rebounder to complement Draymond Green, something the 6’9” Longhorn has never made a priority (7.0). Kerr might also look into finding Dray a stable-goat of sorts, someone with head screwed on straight and battle-tested who can calm the high-strung b-ball star and help keep him outta’ trouble (“Draymond…arrested” / Mlive / 7.11.16 / B.Quinn).

.....Kerr.wc.2.24.15.wc.thmb.K.AllisonBut alas, while James is NBA’s best player the Wars are, even with an excess in talent, the Association’s best team, runner-up trophy, notwithstanding. Kerr & Company run it all like a top.

The weary factor: It’s why Warriors failed to close the deal on what might’ve been the greatest season in NBA history. Ironically, those 73 RS wins that put them on precipice of immortality were also the reason why they fell short. Winning that many takes its toll, as previewed in the WC final versus OKC (4-3) where the champs had to pull their fat outta’ the fire just to move on. Of course, those 1995-96 Chicago Bulls piled a weary-worthy total themselves in their super season (72-10) and still managed to take the title versus Seattle (4-2). Just sayin.’

If It’s Broke…

As for the champs, even the car that sits in the Indy 500 winner’s circle can need a new gear-box. Cleveland’s clank? Absence of a floor leader who appreciates importance of running plays and the self-sacrifice necessary to get the ball into the right hands at the right time (assists). Cavaliers won in spite of deficiency.

Rubbermaid® NBA Finals 2017

NBA’s powers-that-be are salivating over the thought of a Cavs – Wars 3-peat. Who’s gonna’ stop ‘em anyway, besides the injury bug? That the Association’s overall quality of competition rating is at its lowest ebb since the scaling was first calibrated by this writer a few years back, matters not in the least to the Cufflinks, the same frat-boys who think tanking’s a joke, as long as the Big Celebrities make it to the Big Party, i.e., LeBron, Stevo, Durantula, Kyrie, etcetera.

.....rubber-ball.wc.6.30.7.Oroo.thm.colorEven if Durant does work a small drain of the splash-pool and Tyronn Lue takes no action to teach Kyrie who’s #1 (James) and fundamentals of point play, i.e., ‘See the ball, set a play, pass the ball,’ these two teams should have little trouble making it into next season’s Finals, again barring any notable injury issues.

And if they both do meet, it’s the Warriors who likely take the rubber-match.

Kyrie Irving’s not about to learn that kindergarten starter-skill called sharing and former All-Star Kevin Love is now so marginalized by team & press that LeBron’s likely to lose whatever hair he has left by season’s end.

For the Oaklanders, they’ve already got 73, the one with substance (See; Bonds (‘01))), and Kerr will make damn sure his guys are better rested this time in event they make the WC finals. Sixty-plus should get home-court East or West. No tanking, mind you, but SK will give his starters and select subs respites as needed to avoid the weariness that turned splash into a prolonged belly-flop in G5-7.

......straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo Credits: Too-Many-Cooks, Google; K.Durant, wc.cca, 2-14, K.Allison; G.McGinnis, Philly; Durant, OSU, wc, KT.King, 10.31.11; Durant, wc, C.Johnson, 2010; S.Curry, wc, 3.2.11, K.Allison; R.Westbrook-Cavs, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; B.Kuhn, MLB, 1982, wc; S.Kerr, K.Allison, 2.24.25, wc; rubberband-ball, wc, 6.30.7, Oroo; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 7.11.16 @ 5:32pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NBA.F16: The Day Steve Kerr Saved the NBA

7 Jun

Silver Into Gold

The day was May 14, 2014.

That’s when word came down that much sought after NBA coaching prospect Steve Kerr, the former University of Arizona All-American under Lute Olson, member of the last US national team to take a title as amateurs (Spain ‘86), NBA champion (Bulls / Spurs), Phoenix Suns executive but drillmaster novice had opted to sign with Golden State for his first teaching gig, spurning serious overtures from the New York Knicks, their president, Kerr’s former coach in Chicago Phil Jackson and the enigma that is Carmelo Anthony. The deal: $5 million buckaroos over five (5) years.

............Kerr.wc.4.5.13.thm.Thomson200Five over five (5/5): In fractions that translates into one. One, as in, Kerr and GSW have become America’s #1 sport sensation since he took hold of Warriors’ reins, a two-year journey of joy & accolades for San Fran / Oakland area b-ball faithful and one that has appeared surprisingly easy going.

And it’s been due largely to head coach, Steve Kerr.

‘Au contraire, Monsieur, that is absurd, Curry, Thompson, Green, they are magnifique!’ That they are, Pierre, that they are.

Consider this: The year before Steve hit Oakland, Wars had a roster that was near carbon-copy of the present, at least in key cogs Curry, Thompson, Green, Bogut, Iguodala and Barnes, one orchestrated by capable coach Mark Jackson who’d turned a 23-43 club (‘11-12)) into contenders lickety-split (51-31 (‘13-14)) but then fumbled in the playoffs, bowing out 3-4 to the Clippers in Rd-1.

The magic touch Kerr displayed upon arriving at Oracle conjures images of Magic Johnson in his newly fitted ‘79-80 Lakers uniform who took title right outta’ the gate, and then Steve’s former boss and possible coaching template in Jackson who himself replaced a winning coach in Doug Collins (‘86-89). That was a Michael Jordan-led team in similar progression upward that were Eastern Conference finalists in ‘89 but seemed to be missing a championship ingredient. That’s the theory put forth, anyway.

........Jackson.Jordan.S.Lipofsky.wc.cc.97.thumb*The change in Chicagoland did produce big results with six (6) NBA titles in Jackson’s nine seasons in the Windy City, though, two seasons in mid-tenure when Mike went on a sabbatical (‘93-95) saw the zen-fullness vanish as Bulls got bounced in the semi-finals of each playoff run.

Steve does alot of things well but won’t spin straw to gold.

Steve Curry and his teammates, like those Jordan Bulls, are special talents. Just as important as super skill-set is what all champions possess mentality in ability to translate the Xs & Os of a new coach philosophy and implementing captains in command into winning, in stretches and the clutch.

Bottom-line: Great coaches need great players who can lead, and vice-versa.

It’s the vice-versa that too often gets the short-shrift as reflections upon the past will focus almost entirely upon the great athleticism of the students at expense of the dedicated and innovative teacher.

And it must be noted, great coaches need top staff who appreciate the plan and convey it in discernable terms. The names include Ron Adams, Bruce Fraser, Alvin Gentry (2015 (NO)), Jarron Collins, Keke Lyles (2015), Lachlan Penfold (trainer) and recently contracted-to-be Lakers head coach Luke Walton who served as interim HC to start this 2015-16 campaign while Kerr recuperated from back surgery, getting GSW off to a hot start and record unbeaten streak.

That date also marks the moment when fortunes of the NBA took a turn skyward, like it hitched a ride on a NASA booster rocket.

........James.K.Allison.4.27.8.smile.thm*Yes, Mr. James has been good for the game and its business end, whether based in the Forest City, Salsa City or back home to Cleveland. LeBron, with his present crew in Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving et al, or past partners in Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade et al, wins many games, personal hardware (MVPs), Conference and Association titles and conducts himself with a corporate cool kinda’ professionalism.

What Kerr & Co. have injected into the NBA’s…I wouldn’t call it a corpse exactly, but into its body of generally uninspired work where flopping, mopping (floor with poor competition) and dropping (3s at expense of the physical game) is all too common, these Warriors have been a B12 booster shot of verve & vigor.

But if you think the man with the terrific résumé and Jack Armstrong aura has always had everything served sunny-side up, think again.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1965, Steve’s father Malcolm was assassinated by Islamic terrorists in 1984 when employed as president of American University.

Enrolled in Tucson at the time and playing on Olson’s nationally-ranked Wildcats’ squads, the tragedy that must’ve shaken his world to its foundation seemed to become a source of inspiration to the underclassman who held his public emotions in check and has since taken on all challenges presented, career and family, with a focused resolve for success.

.......Kerr.wc.2.24.15.wc.thm.ref.K.Allison*So what lay ahead for Kerr and his Warriors team who are at this posting up on the Cavaliers 2-zip in their best of seven NBA.F16 series, looking to win back-to-back titles and don that dynasty regalia?

In the immediacy, it’s too early to count out Cleveland who head home to host Wednesday nite’s action (6.8) at Quicken Loans Arena. But with Cavs’ big man Kevin Love suffering a head bang in 3Q of last nite’s action on a Harrison Barnes up-the-back rebound rush prompting concussion protocol, prospects appear dimmer by the day for chances of that first elusive NBA title in the Forest City.

Warriors current title run has ‘em sittin’ pretty but series just prior they looked ugly ducks, down 1-3 vs rival OKC in Western final, has this writer thinking back to those resilient Red Sox in 2004. Down 3-zip to nemesis New York, Beaneaters got cookin’ to win the series and ride momentum in sweep over St. Louis.

In the longer view, if the Wars do hoist their 2d consecutive O’Brien, what then might be the final culmination of this masterpiece in basketball that owners Joe Lacob, Peter Guber and GM Bob Myers built, Steve Kerr & staff direct and Steve Curry & friends are implementing to near perfection these past two years?

I’ve written it before, I’m no fan of the 3-pt shot that Golden State has made a staple in their routine and works to drain the game of its natural physicality and inherent symmetry that kept balance between inside and outside games.

*.......Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbBut until another high caliber club can move the Wars off their high-post pedestal, and apparently the Cavaliers, though stocked with talent, are not that team, I will show respect to the champs and find favor where I can.

Can the Warriors duplicate the Jordan-led Bulls fantastic feat of the 1990s, six titles in eight years, that most today hold out as team template for NBA greatness?

Health or durability along with roster retention are always big hurdles the Sporting Gods place as obstacles to overcome on the champions track, but nothing on the current Assc’n landscape in team nor player talent stands to say ‘no’ to the possibility, as long-shot as it appears.

Think of it: Jackson’s former player in Kerr managing an enterprise that looks to equal his own marvelous mark, a winning venture begun after Steve nixed an invite to the Big Apple from his former mentor? The Gods do love irony.

Biggest question: Will Steve Kerr get what’s due, his share of credit and just reward from fans & press for saving Adam Silver’s bacon and pulling NBA’s fat outta’ the flopalupagus fire? That’s highly doubtful.

Lacob & Gruber will give the man a raise or two but nowhere near what even your lowest paid Warriors’ starter gets in gold ($10M?). ‘Players play, coaches coach’ will be the standard spiel in denial. But Steve, his family, his friends, most of his players and basketball aficionados will know the score and that’s enough in anyone‘s book, plus the $8.5M per soon to come.

......straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credit: S.Kerr, wc, 4.15.13, Thomson200; Kerr, wc, K.Allison, 2.24.15; Jordan-Jackson, wc, S.Liposky, 97; James, wc, 4.27.8, K.Allison; Kerr-referee, wc, 2.34.15, K.Allison; Curry, wc, 3.2.11, K.Allison; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 6.7.16 @ 12:06am EST; Copyright © 2016

NBA.F16: Awesome v. Epic As Cavs & Wars’ Worlds Collide

1 Jun

Mind v. Matter

Dandy dust-ups from the past century:

Ford v. Chevy: In a car culture these titans owned the road

Hamburger v. hot dog: Battle over barbecue taste buds never ends

Edison (DC) v. Tesla (AC): Geniuses wrestle for the right to light.

Crawford v. Davis: Golden age film greats fight for fans hearts & minds

Lakers v. Celtics: Early, often and coast-to-coast, their war made the NBA

Mantle v. Mays: In the hero-era, their images held sway over card collectors

The Beatles v. Elvis: British invaders, the mop-top lads moved Mr. Swivel out

Pepsi-Cola v. Coca Cola: Begins brand loyalty but this one can get out of hand;

Catsup v. ketchup: Speech style stirred debate until Hunts® bailed on the Cat.

Tastes great! v. Less filing!: Same vats (Miller) but campaign kept its head.

The Simpsons v. Family Guy: “Brian” alone makes this cartoon call easy as pie.

NBA.F16 features a collision in basketball styles and celebrity cults that is sure to rank among the best in entertainment annals.

........James.K.Allison.wc.thm.11.21.14With tip-off set for 9pm Thursday nite (6.2) at Oracle in Oakland, defending champ Golden State Warriors takes on a familiar foe from 2015 Finale, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Warriors seek a cherry-on-top for a record 73 win season while the Cavaliers try again to deliver a first Larry O‘Brien title trophy to the Forest City.

Two faces decorate the marquee for this dollar donnybrook: Reigning MVP (2) Steve Curry v. 4-time winner LeBron James, both smooth customers and maybe the two hottest commercial commodities across these Consumer States of America (CSA).

Curry, coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors are darlings of the young set, their older siblings in journalism, Disney (ESPN) and not a small number of the ladies who may happen to drop in. Kerr’s Krew rely heavily upon the 3-pt shot, a tack heretofore unseen on Assc’n stage. When they’re turning the tres they set records and wow the crowd, but when they lay bricks the scaffolding can all come down.

Warriors best defense? The mind-game. Not the cruel kind, but in by-product.

It’s just one way in which 3-pt’er (’79) has gradually altered the game of b-ball: Inside action shifts to the high-post, less physicality even for mountain-sized men, 90s trend down in defense continues as tres-defenders opt-out in the risk-benefit balance and swings in momentum that can be seismic (GSW @ OKC G6).

To the last change, it’s not just an extra point the tres tacks on, it’s the psychological impact on the opposition that can demoralize and alter game plan. That’s not necessarily based on rational thought of the opposition but then in a sport where emotions run the gamut, who’s always rational? Coaches, captains try to fend off the heebie-jeebies but the current design of game can make it difficult, especially in final few.

.......Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbCurry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Kerr and the rest of GSW must be commended for exploiting a shot that when made in bushels has, with a Freudian-like finesse, worked inside the heads of opponents. It can emotionally stifle a foes’ momentum, drain confidence while enunciating their own speech-in-swishery (Klay’s 3-pt mark), often running up the bill late in the session: Mind over matter.

In the other corner, the Cavs are, of course, led by Lego® LeBron, a team he, with owner Gilbert, built to their specs, though, 5th-year-point-guard-who-plays-like-shooting-guard Kyrie Irving does his best to pile points and tug the spotlight.

Earlier greats like Mikan, Russell, Cousy & Havlicek, Chamberlain & West, Big-O & Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan & Pippen, Shag, Kobe and Duncan, all sold the NBA product with lots o’ wins and titles galore, but no player has so completely embraced, mastered the role of corporate player as has Mr. James.

Still the favorite of most fans, young & old alike, LeBron guided his teams to enough Finals (6) and hoisted sufficient O’Briens (2) to legitimize his pitch to the public but carries himself with a dignity wrapped in a calm – cool -collected demeanor that should make him the envy of every marketing Cufflink in the land.

The crystal-ball reads pretty clear on this series.

Both squads are near full strength for this rematch of 2015 Final, Cleveland this time having services of their high paid, multi-skilled big-man-with-the-soft-shooting-touch in Love who exited early in 2015 playoffs. He, like his counterpart in Curry are both managing recent injuries that, if inflamed, could alter plans.

.......James.Love.Irving.wc.E.Drost.thm.10.1.14How to fend off the injury bug? Player regimen in nutrient supplementation at this point in the journey, including the Bs, ashwagandha, alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, D3 and magnesium, all help with the blues, bruises, bones and boost. Then there are offerings to the Sporting Gods. Herbs & beer are tradition. Can’t be too careful.

On defense, you don’t get this far without knowing its value and how to employ it, at least most of the time, anyway, and then both benches are well stocked with capable talent but won’t make the starters too nervy.

Cleveland balances better on scoring, hold an edge on the boards and while Warriors are fleeter-of-feet they don’t utilize it to full advantage, often pulling up on the perimeter to launch the T-bombs (3-pt). Wars are slightly more proficient at the charity-stripe (.764 (.748)) and than can play big in close contests.

Warriors Keys

Prolific shooters in Curry & Thompson keep firing away, working through slumps that may befall. And having a back-up plan at the ready when the 3s start rattling the rim and ♫ clang clang clang ♫ like a San Fran trolley would be wise. Didn’t see one in the WC. Easier said than done but necessity’s the father of invention.

Cavaliers Keys

Avoid vesting heavily in 3-pt’er even as they’ve a panache (“25”), not let Golden showers of 3s (bad for sure but you gotta’ laugh) set their minds to worry, give ’em the Freudian slip, so to speak, utilize Kevin to his full potential (sure) to consistently impose their real strength: Power, in drive and rebound: Matter-a-fact-in-your-face, so to speak.

.......James.wc.4.27.8.K.Allison.thmThat’s where James mellow-mode, a corporate winner and fine with lesser foes, must give way to a controlled aggression in the Finals to put fear into hearts of men, not just those in blue & yellow but co-workers who need their minds set right too. Leadership, they call it.

Big shots (The Beatles) can afford big risks (♫ Getting Better ♫), Mr. James. Think of it in these terms, LeBron, “the (risk) you take is equal to the (market impact) you make.” Cha-ching!

Many in sportology will vacillate by keying on different players to rise to the occasion as the series evolves, hoping the roll comes up 7-11. I don’t play that game. The stars will perform and the support staff with shine depending on the circumstance (foes), their mood and level of moxie. That’s sport.

Who wins this NBA16 championship bout? Cavaliers most likely.

The interlude Cleveland’s enjoyed after dispatching Toronto with relative ease (4-2) can work a determent in dulling an edge, throwing a rhythm. That’s how it plays in football and rounders not infrequently. But in a sport like b-ball where the pace is grueling (soccer) and the post-season gauntlet runs long (NHL), more time off before a title round can heal wounds and re-charge draining batteries.

Rest gives an edge to the Forest City folk over a weary Warriors bunch who compiled 73 RS wins only to be pushed to 7G by a determined OKC bunch and escape by the “hair on their chinny chin chin(s).” Plus, the Ohioans should weather better those sure-to-come 3-point barrages than did the Thunder, possessing the men & methods to counter-punch on that point. At least that’s the arsenal it appears Cavs’ head coach Tyronn Lue n’ staff have at the ready.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credits: S.Curry, wc.cca, 4.6.14, N.Salzman; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 11.21.14; Curry, wc, K.Allison, 3.2.11; Love-Irving-James, wc, 10.1.14, E.Drost; James, wc, 4.27.8, K.Allison; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 6.1.16 @ 11:56am; Copyright © 2016

NBA15 Tip-Off: Top Storylines

29 Sep

“An old Indian game. It’s called put-the-ball-in-the-hole (“R.P. McMurphy“ to “Chief (One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest (’75))).”

* * * *

NBA 2015-16 is about to take the court.

Camps have opened with pre-season play beginning on October 2nd. The regular season is slated for tip-off at month’s end (27th). The opening act is a cross-country twin-bill pitting last season’s Finalists against a pair of playoff opponents, both with new head coaches.

The reigning champ Warriors get to unfurl their championship banner in hosting 1st-Rd foe New Orleans (0-4 (Alvin Gentry)), while the Cavaliers head due West to face the Chicago Bulls (Fred Hoiberg) at the banner-filled United Center.

1) Golden State Warriors

You can’t pen a piece about an upcoming season without first giving the champs their due. It’s made easy by the fact that the Warriors are expected by many to get back into the Finals, given the woeful competition and barring the dreaded injury influenza.

What 1st-year head coach Kerr and team accomplished still feels a bit fantastic.

His court leader in guard Steve Curry took regular season MVP honors and became the first 3-point specialist to lead his team to a title. All pretty special stuff that must’ve left victory parade participants Al Attles (coach) and Rick Berry (superstar) beaming with pride (’75 NBA title).

But a smoother roadway to title-town hath never been paved.

The Warriors breezed by the Pelicans (R1 4-0), did get tested by Memphis (4-2 (R2)) but then swept hot-house orchids Atlanta (4-0) and faced a Finals opponent in the Cavaliers who were without their #2 in Kev Love and hobbled elsewhere. LeBron James is special but he ain’t that special. Even Magic (Jabbar-Cooper-Wilkes-Worthy) and Larry (Parish-DJ-Maxwell-McHale) needed their buds.

2) Cleveland Cavaliers

Love re-signed in the off-season. What else do you need to know, except that LeBron James (2y ext’sn) is, if not giddy with optimism, fairly content with State of Cavalier-land and should fully expect a return visit to the Finals next May.

Mr. Blatt was a little shaky in the playoffs (“Not alot you can do (Curry)”), but then Eric Spoelstra came under frequent fire before guiding the Heat to a couple of O’Briens. And the East is pretty barren of serious contenders these days, the West not much better. That points to a quality of competition issue that was in all likelihood absent from everyone’s agenda this off-season. And that’s a shame.

3) Kobe Bryant

He’s denied having decided this’ll be his last run as a player, in opposite of GM Kupchak‘s public musings. Instead, Bryant speaks of a personal renaissance (“rebirth“). He did live in Italy. But Kobe’s body may have more to say about the decision than does his desire. And then planning on a final season absent formal annoucement may simply be his way of forgoing what he and many fans disdain, that being the “farewell tour,” aka, attendance-enhancer & memorabilia-booster.

Like the pantheon of pinstripers populating the long, mostly successful history of the Yankees, Kobe’s been a part of a similar near unbroken chain of great Lakers links since big George Mikan (d.‘05) and “Kangaroo Kid” Jim Pollard (d.‘93) were filling the peach-basket (it was steel rimmed) in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Some nicknames have surfaced over the 19 seasons he pounded NBA hardwood after enlisting straight from high school (Lower Merion, Ardmore, PA (‘96 R1-13 (Hornets-to-Lakers)), “Black Mamba” being the oddest. But like Wilt, Yogi & Cher, the worldly lad from Philly has always been known by one name, Kobe.

Suffice to say Bryant has scored lots o’ points and garned plenty o’ personal hardware in his long NBA tenure (MVP, All-Star, etc.), but it’s the title haul (5), equaling 80s Showtime, that will define his b-ball legacy.

To his character, well, let’s just say the sexual assault arrest (‘03), then case dismissal (‘04), a Bryant apology (sans admission of guilt) and final civil settlement, will likely afford the Lakers great the privilege of not having a statue erected outside Staples Center (x6) in his honor. Then again, these decisions aren’t cast in stone: 2030?

4) Spurs Forever?

There’s been discussion recently as to whether or not the Gregg Popovich Spurs have constituted a true dynasty. My initial view was that five titles in sixteen seasons was qualification aplenty and denial of such was stingy (P.Jackson).

Thinking more on it, a reflection triggered by the baseball Giants failure to once again defend their World Series or even Pennant titles, I’ve come to the belief that San Antonio’s inability to win back-to-backs or even get back to a Finals the season following a championship may very well disqualify them of the dynasty tag. No big whoop.

What owner Peter Holt (‘93) and his Spurs have accomplished since they took their first title in ‘98-99 may be more significant than achieving the dynasty thing: a space-time continuum (Poe). Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but weighty matters seldom do.

The core for 4 of the 5 O’Briens, Tim Duncan (C), Tony Parker (PG) and Manu Ginobili (G), all return for one more season as the Argentinian hints this one will be his last. When any of the three exit it won’t be long before the others follow.

Can the Spurs hold form and fashion one more title run in this staggered 2015-16 season? The infusion of more young talent with the vets didn’t take them too far last spring, bowing out to the Clippers in R1. But the door to title-town is wide open in this NBA and the humble Spurs seem to never stop learning.

5) Commissioner Adam Silver

Commissioners rarely rank high on those most-admired lists. Making money for the owners (and college Presidents), presiding over draft events and dolling out player punishment is what they devote majority of their time. Rarely, one will take the job to heart and go beyond the money rake (Landis / Giamatti (MLB)).

But don’t include Mr. Adam Silver in that select group. The name is apropos.

What can you say that’s inspirational about a point-man Silver who seeks to co-mingle gambling with sport (“good for business”) and handled the sad, multi-sided Sterling matter with all the finesse and courage of a corporate raider? He’s a media darling?

It can’t be an easy job, Commissioner of a major sport. But some leaders are more suited to the task than others who have no more love for the game than the politician who dons whatever ball-cap the campaign whistle-stop dictates.

Bold moves like paring down of an excess of franchises that might pump life’s blood in quality of competition back into the sport, and elimination of gimmickry like the 3-pointer (ABA) that’s destroyed b-ball’s dichotomy, could work wonders for a popularity of that’s ebbing at lowest in decades. Odds on that: 1000 to 1.

6) Team Potentiality

Before the 2015 Conference finals, if you asked me to name-off teams likely to contend for next season’s showcase venues, I’d have included the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks with no hesitation. That was four months and “a 1000 years ago.”

Both front-runners flamed-out in their respective CFs, winning one measly game between ’em both (4-0 (ATL v CLE) / 4-1 (HOU v GSW)).

While the Grizzlies and Clippers didn‘t advance as far in 2015 post-season play, both showed something to build upon. Los Angeles’ addition of wily vet Paul Pierce may be the binding-agent they truly need to become a cohesive crew.

Steven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credit: S.Curry, wc.cca, 2.24.15, K.Allison.
Posted: 9.29.15 @ 2:18pm EST; Copyright ® 2015

Steve Kerr: NBA Finals15’s MV-Person

20 Jun

Those poor hockey guys.

“The (Icemen) cometh,” and then goeth in a flash.

..........Kane.12.9.14.wc.L.Gansky.thmb

Blackhawks take an NHL title Monday night on home ice for the first time since FDR took on greed (’38) by besting Tampa Bay Lightning in six (4-2) to take a 3rd Stanley Cup in six years, fashioning what less stingy observers are calling a dynasty, but moved quicker through the media spotlight than a cool, summer breeze.

Added to that couldn’t-be-helped slight was what appears to be a decision of Sports Illustrated’s cover layout crew to obscure any sight of Chicago’s Indian motifs (head & tomahawks) in their supposedly celebratory but somewhat sneaky championship edition. “Clever girl(s),” and boys.

The PCBs (politically correct bullies) ‘are forever busy and need feeding.’

The Golden State Warriors, led by Assoc’n MVP Stephen Curry and 1st-yr coach Steven Kerr, won on Tuesday night their first NBA title since short-shorts, Wolverines (Pres. Ford) and Rick Barry were in vogue (‘75) by dispatching LeBron James and his short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers in same six-game set.

.........Iguodala.wc.7.14.12.T.Shelby.thb

Surprisingly, day after Warriors big win the top trending topic was not the team, star guard Curry or new golden boy of NBA coaching set Kerr (he’s 49), but the unexpected selection made for Finals most valuable player award, that going to Andre Iguodala who, prior to and start of these Finals, had been most often used in a reserve capacity.

Awarding of the championship MVP trophy in any of the four major pro sports has a long tradition, but by that same tradition will rarely receive must discussion in post-series forums beyond quick nod in respectful acknowledgment of its winner.

When MVP takes center stage, dominates dialogue you know voters mis-cast.

Once the Cavaliers took a 2 to 1 lead in the series the critical contest and key combatants became clear to this writer:

“This phase in NBA Finals.15 is, believe it or not, about Steve Kerr and LeBron James. Can Kerr figure a way for his men to frustrate the superstar for an entire game and LeBron (& David Blatt) thwart the strategy? It’s not Bucks-Celtics ’74 or Spurs-Heat ’13 but still an interesting battle of wits & wherewithal (Ahead of the Curve @KeysSteven (Twitter): “No Hyperbole” / Mannix / SI.com / 6.10).”

.........James.wc.1.25.15.E.Drost.thmb

The “battle” didn’t develop as hoped but Kerr’s altering “strategy” finding form in decision to start Andre to guard James proved a game-changer. James, this fan’s player MVP, still performed admirably in all categories but was prevented from controlling tempo and taking Curry out of rhythm as was done in G3.

They don’t give coaches the series MVP trophy but maybe they should.

Steve’s line-up change had it’s element of risk attached but turned the series around as the clear catalyst to Warriors resulting win streak (3-0).

This time blame for Forest City’s frustration can be laid on marble doorstep of the Sporting Gods who decided to make Cleveland wait another year for chance at championship when they took out Kevin Love in early playoff round.

.........Love.wc.11.21.14.K.Allison.thmb

Besides, with what Urban Meyer’s doing in the State of Ohio, the Gods don’t want to spoil the Buckeye bunch, not yet, anyway (See: Jim Harbaugh).

Had Kev played, it’s pretty fair bet the Cavaliers would’ve taken the Finals in 6G. Being the Las Vegas odds favorite to take the O’Brien in 2016 tends to validate that belief.

Biggest winners NBAF15: Warriors world, Misters Curry and Kerr.

Curry won’t be knocking James off his lofty perch as the #1 sport star anytime soon. LeBron sits pretty and weights down heavy with hardware and marketing-media mettle. But Stephen’s now got ringed “presence (“NBA15: Does Curry”)” and seems to’ve cornered the kid-market who crave cool in crazed consumerism.

........Kerr.wc.JM.Rosenfeld.2.2.08;thmb

As for Steven, he’s got a long way to go to overtake graybeard guru greats in Popovich (Spurs) and former mentor, Phil Jackson, but is so laden with likeability that it really doesn’t matter much how many more titles he may take. Guy’s golden.

One caveat to Kerr’s accomplishment: Not in recent memory do I recall that there’s been an easier roadway to the NBA title. Warriors and Cavaliers cars came fully equipped with EZ-Pass® in hand. Memphis put up a fight, but beyond that, ahh.

When the losing teams in both Conference finals (ATL/HOU) win a grand total of one (1) game combined, the quality of competition issue leaves an ignominious mark and fans deserve much better. I remember the 70s and 80s.

Biggest Losers: Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt and Knicks’ Phil Jackson

.......Jackson.1.28.07.M.Sandoval.wc.thb

It’s safe to say that the bloom has officially gone off Phil Jackson’s zen-ful rose.

The zenmeister hasn’t made a mindful major move since joining the Knicks in 2013. Letting his friend Steve slip through their hands pre-season seemed foreboding at the time and came home to roost. Cock-a-doodle do.

For David Blatt’s part, when the coach appears to be throwing up his hands in mid-Finals (post-G5: “Not alot you can do (on Curry)”), I can’t image what good hope players have in future moments of critical conundrum. There’s often a way, if one possesses the will, especially in these particular Finals.

......Blatt.wc.1.25.15.E.Drost.thmb

Some bemoaned LeBron when he made late series boast (“I’m the best”). But clearly, the team leader was merely keeping his game face secured on tite and reminding his ‘mates they had a chance to rebound and take the Finals. Nice try, anyway, James, who definitely does not want to be that guy who gets his coach canned.

Blatt did hit the mark on his closing statement: “It’s a good story,” the Cleveland Cavaliers 2015 season.

No doubt about it. The new Cavaliers went far, farther than many mindful NBA observers expected. And to reach the promised land and get Cleveland it’s first NBA title, LeBron needs some Love.

Just as Bird had McHale, Magic Worthy, Jordan Pippen and LeBron his friend Wade, Cleveland’s megastar needs his multi-skilled cohort in support. And there’s none better in today’s NBA than Kevin Love.

Unless unreported personality conflict(s) developed in Cleveland franchise, everything of non-rumor variety points to Kev staying put in the Forest City.

Next to LeBron, Kevin’s the best all-around in the biz, has money coming out of his ears, wants that jewel-encrusted title ring w/Cleveland motif maybe as much as does James and owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland will be loaded for bear in 2015-16 making it the place to be.

And if the Sporting Gods are on their game in 2016, we might see a return match of these two talented teams, if the Spurs and Grizzlies fizzly, of course.

......straight_shooter.thmb

Steven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credits: S.Kerr, wc.cca, 2.24.15, K.Allison; P.Kane, wc, 12.9.14, L.Gansky; A.Iguodala, 7.14.12, wc; T.Shelby; L.James, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; K.Love, 11.21.14, wc, K.Allison; S.Kerr, wc, JM.Rosenfeld, 2.2.8; P.Jackson, wc, M.Sandoval, 1.28.7; D.Blatt, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; Straight.Shooter, citrus.fruit, label.
Posted: 6.19.15 @ 8:30pm; edit 6.20 @ 12:28, 10:53pm EST