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Here is a link to my Monday column about Game 4 between the Warriors and Clippers. The full text runs below:

OAKLAND — It’s impossible to know how much Donald Sterling loused up his team. You know about the racist remarks attributed to him.

His Clippers rolled over for the Warriors on Sunday, 118-97, a massacre from the start. The Clippers tried but they never were in the game. More like dead on arrival. And who can blame them?

Put all that aside because you must put it aside. This is a basketball story about a basketball game in a basketball playoff series. And while you may feel sorry for the Clippers — I do — you can’t give them an excuse, not that they even want an excuse. This playoff series had to continue and the Clippers had to do business. And they did not.

It was the Warriors who did business, who pushed aside all the ugliness — not as ugly for them as L.A. — and ran the Clippers off the court, out of the arena, to their plane and back to Southern California as the Warriors evened the series two games apiece and showed their courage and skill. The Warriors need make no apologies for taking advantage of the Clippers, if they even did take advantage. They were here to play, were paid to play. Wow, did they play.

Take the case of Stephen Curry. He is the Warriors’ superstar. He may be the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA. That includes a lot of great shooters. But in the first three games of this series, he was dormant in the first quarter. Sometimes, he remained dormant. He was someone we didn’t recognize, a stranger who got double-teamed and passed the ball to his supporting cast. And nothing much came of it.

Curry was suffering from a case of Latent Chris Paul. He thought, just because he’s the Warriors’ point guard, he was supposed to play like Paul, a passer, someone who sets up the other guys. But Curry is not Paul. He is a dynamic scorer. He is a combo of Paul and Blake Griffin — passer/scorer — and on Sunday he let loose his inner Griffin. Scored 17 points, sank five 3s in the first quarter, just got off. He ended the game with 33.

He allowed his superstar ego to express itself. He is not paid to be shy. He is paid to impose his will on the game. “I was looking for any space I could get,” he said. “I come off screens, usually they have been trying to trap, but tonight I was able to step into a couple of quick 3s. Once you hit a couple early, it seems like there’s more space that opens up.”

Like the Grand Canyon. Curry would get a slice of light — you could see the lighted space between him and a defender, like magic — and up he went, the ball lofting out of his right hand, easy, smooth, beautiful. The ball sinking into the hoop. No net.

Curry needs to be assertive and selfish, needs to shoot for the Warriors to win this series. And they can win. Their Sunday victory tied the series at 2-2, and rarely has a team shown guts like the Warriors.

“Mark (Jackson) must have done a wonderful job of getting (Curry) free,” Doc Rivers said afterward, Rivers seeming overwhelmed by circumstances, some basketball and some life. “I think they did a lot of things. And then we must have done some bad things defensively.”

When the game ended — the whole thing emotional and just plain weird considering the back story — Mark Jackson came to the interview room, his voice hoarse, his face tired. Someone asked if the Clippers were affected by the controversy.

“No. No,” he said. “I believe everybody was affected by what took place. I don’t believe it was just the Clippers. I don’t think there was anything said directly towards the Clippers and their players. It was insulting to all of us. So, I wouldn’t minimize. We got blown out in Game 2 with no controversy. We own that.”

Jackson renounced the controversy as reason for the blowout. He may be correct.

Rivers addressed the same issue. “Golden State surely didn’t care. It’s like when a player plays with an injury. (Opponents) don’t care they’re injured. They’re going to come out and try to attack you. If we were injured physically or mentally, the other team didn’t care and they really shouldn’t care because it’s a competition.”

Then he said something else, poignant in the extreme. “We’re going home now. And usually that would mean we’re going to our safe haven. And I don’t even know if that’s true, to be honest.”

Paradise lost. Or certainly imperiled.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

 

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17 Comments

  1. dharte

    I’m too young to remember the Kennedy assassination and the NFL’s absurd insistence on playing a full schedule the following Sunday, but yesterday was just a pathetic display of short-sightedness by the NBA players and their union.

    All of those playoff games should have been cancelled; the players, every one of them, should have refused to play. If you want respect from billionaires you take their money. Tens of millions in commercials and network “air time” lost, a playoff season imploding in front of Adam Silver’s eyes…you’d have their full attention, gentlemen.

    Instead, we turn our t-shirts inside out? Laughable. Tommy Smith and John Carlos must have been appalled at that gesture, 45 years on…?

    The pathetic fact is that Donald Sterling got paid yesterday, as he has most every day for the last 30 years. From what I read, little Donald has made over 750 million off the sweat of others who, I gather, disgust him. Yesterday that could have changed. And the only way you’ll ever get such bigots out of this league is to hurt them where they live–in their wallets.

    Yet what a tame response. I’ve always respected Doc Rivers for his intelligence, court savvy and toughness. Doc Rivers embarrassed himself yesterday; he’ll do that again tomorrow.

    Someone in the player’s union needs to speak up. Though saying that, yesterday was the time to be heard.

    April 28th, 2014 9:31 am

  2. Dan

    The NBA will not allow the Clippers to advance.

    April 28th, 2014 9:56 am

  3. Dave T

    My hope is that the series will be played with the same intensity we saw in games 1-4. Each team has had a game that they would I am sure like to have back, for the Warriors it was game 2, and the Clippers it was game 4. My guess is that this goes 7 games, and it comes down to the wire. For the sake of all involved, I hope the focus shifts to what takes place on the court, instead of off.

    April 28th, 2014 10:16 am

  4. Bill Hester

    Well written. I’ve been a Chis Paul fan for years. This owner problem is an NBA problem and if the NBA does not deal harshly with Sterling all NBA players and owners should take harsh action with the NBA.

    Chris Paul will come to play tomorrow and he will be in Curry’s face.

    April 28th, 2014 10:22 am

  5. Bill Hester

    Dan, very few people will stand for what they believe when there are significant costs to them. We will see what the players do and what the owners do. This is not just a Chis Paul, Blake, Deandre, etc problem, it is a Curry, Lebron, Dirk, Duncan, KD, etc problem and it will not with the playoffs.

    I will watch to see who does what. This is bigger than bball.

    April 28th, 2014 10:34 am

  6. Stan

    I think this Sterling episode,and Rod Brooks on the local sports media status quo club? Confirm all I’ve hammered at on local blogs and anyplace local that allows commenting. I guess in response to me,I heard a certain KNBR host say to his co -host (a couple of weeks ago) “I don’t get all this talk about left wing or right wing in sports”..and the answer by the other? “I don’t either”.
    I hope everybody is getting it now.

    April 28th, 2014 11:05 am

  7. Ben

    dharte, i’m not following. what would’ve been gained by all players in all games refusing to play? how would that have earned the respect of joe lacob, mark cuban and all the other owners who are not donald sterling, and what would that have accomplished?

    April 28th, 2014 11:26 am

  8. Tommy CostaRica

    Iguodala stepped it up last night just like you said it would have to happen for the Warriors to succeed….. Good call Lowell! Green & Barns from out of nowhere!!! Great call Mark Jackson to start Green and move Lee to center, who’s even thinking of Jackson’s job security these days?????

    April 28th, 2014 11:32 am

  9. Mark M

    Refreshing to read an article about the game itself. For me, it seemed the Warriors had big intensity and the Clips did not. LA put forth a professional effort but it didn’t mean the same as the previous games. But it was good to read a piece about the Warriors effort and impressive play. It was all of that and an appropriate response to what had taken place on the court in previous games. Kudos to Jackson for that.

    April 28th, 2014 11:57 am

  10. Dave T

    I want to be clear that I absolutely do not condone the remarks said or the feelings behind them in any way, shape or form. But in all of this, I can’t help but wonder this. Since this is not “new ground” being covered by this individual and it is consistent with past behaviors, why in some ways is this such a shock and why should the players and even the coach try to “hit the owner where it hurts most, their wallet” when in some ways, they filled their own with that very same money? Here is what I mean: There are two high profile examples with the owner, a real estate settlement and the whole Elgin Baylor lawsuit. In each example the lack of respect for others by this owner was on full display. Yet, players and coaches alike still came to this organization, signing lucrative deals to either stay with this team or come to it. Whether it was the lure of a championship or the potential of the L.A. exposure (think Baron Davis here) something led them to agree to take money from an organization owned by a man with a sordid past. And now some are asking that the players and coach who did so to sit out in protest of actions by such a person took place that became highly visible? Players had a chance to do so not when this most recent issue came to light, but before they signed their contract, same for the coach. I agree that this is an issue for the NBA and sporting leagues as a whole, but at this point to tell the Clippers players and coach that they should have boycotted or refused to play the last game to me is simply not realistic. The better response would have been refusing to play for the organization beyond a rookie contract, or even refusing to play for them period if drafted. Or not signing with them as a free agent. But that ship has sailed and as this entire issue plays out, I hope that the players on all teams understand that the game itself is in fact bigger than the actions and words of one owner.

    Yes, this was disgusting and crude and narrow minded. Yes, it was said by a complete and utter buffoon. Yes it is an issue that is pervasive not just in the NBA or NFL or MLB but sports on a global scale. And I applaud the players for playing, and thereby saying that in fact the game is more important and that we won’t let the words and feelings of one individual stop us from pursuing our dream of a championship.

    April 28th, 2014 1:14 pm

  11. Stan

    I was listening to the malarkey of Damon Bruce who praised Doc Rivers handling “Of all this with class”… What? Doc Rivers didn’t do anything,nothing at all–how is that handling it?
    Let me tell you all right now,Doc Rivers had a chance to make history,something that would have been in schoolbooks for years to come on behalf of civil rights. Instead? He lost just another playoff game.
    What Rivers did helped nobody.

    April 28th, 2014 5:22 pm

  12. Stan

    AND, you notice people of color have said- boycott? The local sports hosts,are shocked at that idea. Damon Bruce against it,Radnich hasn’t taken a real stand either. Yet,I’m sure Lowell is typing his next column as I type, on Jackson asking the unprecedented,a boycott of the next game. He wants to play in front of nobody.
    What Sterling said was so racist to those who know what racism is,all this is no over reaction,not at all.

    April 28th, 2014 7:15 pm

  13. dharte

    @ Ben

    The owners will never punish one of their own, and David Stern was pathetic in his treatment of Sterling…for years. (Remember that Chris Paul should be playing on the Lakers, with Dwight Howard, except for the manipulations of Stern for his buddy).

    It is ridiculous that in a professional league which is 75% African-American there has never been a serious candidate for Commissioner, and of course there are very few black owners. The fact that one of the most prominent owners, with an LA franchise at that, is a stone-cold bigot, a fact that has been well known for years to anyone in the LA area paying attention (Scott Ostler has written about this point recently) is shameful, just outrageous.

    So if you want to take a stand, don’t turn your damn t-shirt inside out. Hurt them, take their money, make the situation so pressurized that a fine, a suspension, a “shaming” are simply not plausible options. The NBA has a nuclear option: Stern’s franchise can be “disbanded” and his players can be granted free agency. So the players, at least yesterday given the timing, had maximum leverage. Imagine the networks’ anger at Stern, Silver, Sterling & Co. if no one showed up for those games. No team would be put at a disadvantage, since there would be no forfeits, just no basketball, with the further threat of no playoffs unless massive punishment was brought down on Sterling and his family.

    That would have been a watershed moment in American sports. But the players, again, just went for the cash. The timidity of simply turning their t-shirts inside out was a pathetic gesture. And don’t kid yourself, behind closed doors the other owners shrugged. Their payday was not delayed, and nothing will change.

    Same as it ever was.

    April 28th, 2014 7:36 pm

  14. dharte

    “Stern’s franchise” is obviously a Freudian slip since without Stern’s “gift” of Chris Paul two years ago the Clippers would still be mediocre at best.

    April 28th, 2014 7:41 pm

  15. Stan

    Curry and Klay Thompson too often fancy themselves as dribbling wizards. Curry with passing wizard fantasies too. All I see is Thompson picked clean in the paint everytime he’s caught in traffic. And Curry’s loop passes are really bad fundamentals. I think if you found a super stat machine,the vast majority of Curry’s TO’s are from loop passes. Barnett even on TV says they are telegraphed. Or Facebooked for you kids.

    April 29th, 2014 1:26 pm

  16. Dave T

    Really good and thought provoking article by Jason Whitlock on ESPN.com and well worth the read.

    April 29th, 2014 1:33 pm

  17. Stan

    Wasn’t Whitlock the one who made jokes about Jeremy Lin’s genitalia?
    I thought he was fired. Crazy world.

    April 29th, 2014 5:26 pm

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