The Heart of a Champion: Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors Show Doggedness Without Durant

Steph Curry Scores 33 in 2nd Half
Steph Curry Scores 33 2nd half points after going scoreless for the first two quarters in an epic win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semi-finals May 10, 2019

The Golden State Warriors just did it again. They beat the Houston Rockets to advance to the Western Conference Finals — again. That’s four times in the past five years. James Harden, Chris Paul, Coach D’Antoni and the rest of the Rockets did everything they possibly could to stop Steph and Klay and Igoudala, but all to no avail. The Warriors willed their way to a win on the road, in a hostile environment without their leading scorer (and best player) Kevin Durant.

It was a beauty to behold. It was improbable and next to impossible. But they did it, and they did it in incredible fashion. It took them everything they had, and just about every player they had as they employed their diversity. And Steph Cury had to overcome in game adversity as well. Steph, held to zero points in the first half, broke out for 33 points in the second frame and ripped the Rockets on their home court. Steph scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and 16 in the final five minutes. And it is worth noting that the ENTIRE Rockets team scored 16 points in the final five minutes of the game. Incredible.

Klay Thompson, the other half of the Warriors backcourt, was terrific throughout, finishing with 27 points while shooting 7-of-13 from 3-point range — including one that essentially sealed the win in the final minute. The Splash Brothers came through when it mattered most.

For their part, Houston was supposed to win at home, especially since Durant was injured and wasn’t even in the state of Texas for the game. Yet the Rockets state of play showed just how wounded they are. Yes they played hard, but it wasn’t enough. Yes they went toe to toe for three quarters, but they fell short, again. And yes they wanted to win, but why did they not have the will to win?

And that’s the difference between the Rockets and the Warriors, and between victims and victors and between chumps and champions. No offence to James Harden and Chris Paul; they are great future Hall of Fame players, but they lack the grit and the gumption to pull off and pull out a win when defeat is taunting them and they are face to face with the fear of failure.

The difference between these two groups is will. Will has power; that’s why we call it willpower. Dogged determination will move mountains and stops the mouths of lions. It speaks peace to the tempestuous storm, and settles the raging seas. It rebuilds ruined cities and restores the joy of our salvation. Will is akin to faith, and faith must be spoken, without hesitation or reservation.

Will is determination, and determination must be rooted in resolve. And nothing can uproot or dislodge or destroy a man or woman with a made up mind that knows they are destined to destroy the works of the devil. No hint of doubt or trace of fear should be found in a man or woman of destiny. The task may seem improbable or even be said to be impossible. But don’t delay or postpone or suspend your decision to believe God.

Say with me: “I will believe that what God has promised, He is able also to perform.”

From Repeat to Three-peat? Who is Going to Stop the Golden State Warriors?

Curry-Durant

 Houston said they would. They had Chris Paul teamed with James Harden, and they were up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals. Then Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury, and he DNPed in Games 6 and 7. No matter, the Rockets couldn’t hit the side of a barn, and missed twenty-seven three pointers in a row in the Game 7 loss at home.

LeBron said he could. King James once again carried a team of nobodies and no accounts to the NBA Finals only to find out once again that you can’t beat the Warriors without balanced scoring and more than a little luck on your side. What’s that? We don’t believe in luck? Well then it must have been Providence, right?

The Cavaliers were leading the Warriors in Game 1 ON THE ROAD at the Oracle in Oakland when a charge call was reversed and LeBron was called for a block. Durant hit both free throws and gave Golden State back the lead. But don’t blame the loss on the referees. The Cavs had a chance to win in regulation when JR Smith inexplicably dribbled out the final 4.7 seconds of the clock, forcing overtime. George Hill missed the free throw that would have given Cleveland the lead. But JR grabbed the offensive rebound and could have made a point blank layup to win the game. Say it aint so.  

So Houston couldn’t. And LeBron and the Cavaliers couldn’t.

Now the Golden State Warriors are, once again, the NBA champions after they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a clean four-game sweep of the 2018 NBA Finals. The series was far closer than the series outcome would suggest, as the Cavaliers took Game 1 at Oracle Arena to overtime and led for much of Game 3 in Cleveland, but Golden State’s overwhelming talent behind Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was just too much for the Cavaliers to handle. This is the third championship in four years for the Warriors, and it leaves not only the Cavaliers, but the rest of the league with plenty of question marks.

2018 NBA Finals - Game Three
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 6: Stephen Curry #30 and Draymond Green #23 yell and celebrate with Kevin Durant #35 after Durant scored 43 points in Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers  at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Warriors appear primed for a run of dominance that should span for at least another few years, potentially bringing their championship total into the range of Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers or Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. The rest of the NBA’s players will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening, and it all starts with LeBron James. His free agency will dictate who Golden State’s greatest rival is next season, and he likely has already formed his own ideas on how to beat this Warriors juggernaut. https://origin-assets.247sports.com/ContentGallery/Golden-State-Warriors-defeat-Cleveland-Cavaliers-to-win-NBA-championship-and-players-respond-on-Twitter-118908129So who’s going to stop Golden State? No one. They can only beat themselves. And no one can stop you when you make up your mind that you’re going to get the job done and you lean on Heaven for help.

The 2018 NBA Finals: Leftovers Warmed Over

LebronCurry

We’ve seen this movie before, right? I mean, remakes are great, but by the time they got to Rocky XV, I fell asleep during the credits– the PRE credits.  I love watching a favorite movie again and again, don’t you? (Matrix fans unite!) But some people want something different all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, because the Warriors and the Cavs absolutely deserve to be in the NBA Finals.  Correction — LeBron, a.k.a. King James and Steph Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and all of the rest of the Warriors deserve to be in the NBA Finals, with an honorable mention to Jeff Green of the Cavs for the way he played and helped LeBron in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

If the 2018 NBA Finals are must see TV,  why are some people tired of eating Cavs/Warriors leftovers? Becasue they want something different. Their tired of eating manna every morining (or every year).  Get it?  The spiritual tie in is so surreal. We get to watch high level, high caliber basketball, yet we’re tired of the same ole, same ole. But it’s still good. It’s absolutely still good.

Oh well. You can’t please everybody. So the Warriors and the Cavs will play and we’ll watch the Warriors win another Larry O’Brien Trophy.  Right? 

So who ya got?

The Politics of Sports, a.k.a., Who Wants To Be Uninvited To The White House?

white-house

“You could see the end to this awkward dance between the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and President Donald Trump coming from 140 characters away.

Less than a day after so many prominent members of the Warriors reiterated their stance that they didn’t want to visit to White House to celebrate their title, and just hours after Trump’s inciteful rally in Alabama where he took aim at NFL players who protest the national anthem, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter – again.

‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!’ Trump tweeted.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/09/23/donald-trump-rescinds-white-house-invitation-stephen-curry-warriors/696136001/

Wow.  

Much could be said, but here I yield to another writer, Michel Wilbon.

The following article is from “Wilbon,” (as Tony Kornheiser calls him), co-host of ESPN’s PTI, Pardon the Interruption, sports show.  Michael Wilbon hit the nail on the head.  In light of the ongoing media feud between the President of the United States, who rules from the White House, and athletes in the NBA and the NFL, I could write my own thesis or treatise on the subject, but Wilbon beat me to the punch.  Thanks Mike. 

“It was just before 3 a.m. Saturday, and I could hear the phone buzz from the incoming text. It was from Rex Chapman, a friend of many years now after I’d covered a lot of his college and NBA basketball career. For those who don’t remember Chapman, he was the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky — white kid who could jump out of the gym — about to turn 50 this October. The despair he was feeling was coming right through the cellphone screen.

The text, in part, read, ‘I’m sorry about Trump. I’ve never been more ashamed. I hope you knew this before, but in case you didn’t I need to say it now. Love you Brother. Rex.’

This was an American man — white — feeling compelled to reach out to another — black — to make perfectly clear he didn’t support any of the garbage coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not in the president’s Friday night Alabama speech, not in any rantings on Twitter. That Chapman didn’t think taking a knee during the national anthem meant a black football player was a “son of a bitch,” that he didn’t want any part of the hideous racial divisiveness that Trump was instigating.

I texted Chapman back to tell him I’ve known him well enough and long enough to know the only thing he has in common with Trump is race, and I already knew what side of any divide he was on … and that I loved him for composing and sending that text.

Chapman’s 3 a.m. communication was also a forecast of the storm coming right back at the president. Trump was either clueless about the blowback he’d get from the brotherhood of pro athletes, particularly African-Americans, or he’d seriously miscalculated the willingness of an industry of powerful people, most of them white, to stand with those “sons of bitches” who Trump demanded be fired for expressing the most fundamental American right.

Whether Trump was oblivious or misguided, I doubt he expected LeBron James to stand up for rival Steph Curry on Twitter. Could he have had any idea that white teammates would rally around black ones in locker rooms and on sidelines Sunday? Or that the team owners he wanted to fire those black protesters would link arms Sunday with those very players during the anthem? And the last thing he could’ve expected was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his friend, saying in a statement, “I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

The beginning of Kraft’s statement, that there is “no greater unifier in this country than sports and nothing more divisive than politics,” might as well have been the NFL’s official position going into the day’s games. It even one-upped the statement from the measured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also called Trump’s comments “divisive.”

Those who thought Trump would fire back at Kraft and Goodell personally were left waiting. The president doesn’t waste his nastiest insults on white men, even those who disagree with him, when he has black men such as Curry and Colin Kaepernick to attack. And few, if any, African-Americans were surprised that the man who led the Obama birther movement and called Mexicans rapists said during an Alabama speech that a football player taking a knee during the anthem is a “son of a bitch.”

For a great many of us who find Trump and his actions somewhere between objectionable and loathsome, this latest episode illustrates once again that he is what we think he is. Black men taking a knee during the anthem enraged Trump, but a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches also included, in his words, “very fine people” who were just there to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

This isn’t lost on anybody paying even scant attention. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “These are … probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam … our differences, I’m speaking in terms of values, are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity. I thought his comments about NFL players are as bad as anything he’s said to this point. You’re talking about young men who are peacefully protesting, hallmarks of our country.

‘How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans’ but ‘Free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest’? No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.’

There’s an old adage in sports that conveys: You are what your record says you are. We know what Trump’s record is regarding race. And in taking on two leagues, one (the NBA) with some of the most famous people on the planet and another (the NFL) that features the most popular form of sports entertainment in America, Trump emboldened a population that is often reluctant to rally or take risk. Suddenly, with public backing from owners and leagues, players aren’t feeling their careers are at risk to the same degree as before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wondered aloud during a television interview Sunday whether Trump is ready for the blowback from a community of people with so much national and global influence. And now those people, even the anthem-kneelers, find themselves being patted on the shoulder by sympathizers if not allies.

I texted Rex Chapman later in the afternoon to ask permission to share his thoughts publicly. Like millions of us, he was watching and listening, hoping to see definitive signs that we had progressed as a nation in our lifetimes, hoping that a choir of voices could overwhelm Trump’s.

I’m going to forward to Chapman the Facebook post of Dan Rather, a man who knows the sweep of American history. Toward the end of an eloquent and stunning rebuke of Trump, Rather sounded a note of cautious optimism that I’m certain Chapman was also getting at with his Saturday morning text.

‘We are not a nation of majority bigots,’ the former CBS newsman wrote. ‘The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.’ Even if that chorus is built one voice — or one text — at a time.

——-

Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. He is a co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

https://theundefeated.com/features/donald-trumps-nfl-comments-inspired-a-response-he-didnt-see-coming/ 

You Should Join A Super Team!

Durant Finals MVP

Yes, you should join a super team. Everybody’s doin’ it, right? I mean anybody and everybody in the NBA is jumping ship and breaking rank and joining another team to make a super team. And why not? If KD did it, and Kevin Garnett before him did it, and of course LeBron did it (even though he says he didn’t), then why shouldn’t all of the other superstars do it?

One thing is for sure: super teams win. Durant proved it once again this season. The problem now is, who’s got the superlative super team? Just like there’s only one basketball to share on the court, there’s only one championship trophy; but with the Larry O’Brien, there ain’t no sharin’. 

Truth be told, the first super teams were back in the late 60’s when Wilt Chamberlain flew out of Philly and latched onto the Lakers to help Jerry West beat the Celtics (but they never did.)  Then, Dr. J left the ABA New Jersey Nets to join the 76ers.  They lost to Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and then lost to the Lakers twice, in 1980 and 1982. Then, the Sixers snatched Moses Malone from Houston to form, guess what, a Super Team!  With all stars like Doc and Moses and Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, the ’83 Sixers were truly a super team.

So fast forward to 2017, 40 years after Doc came to Philly. Now we have multiple super teams as a result of Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to beat the Cavs in this year’s finals.  Since Golden State has four bona fide all-stars, teams are scrambling this off season to grab as many available all-stars as they can to add to their roster in hopes of being a better team. Everybody now needs to be a super team in an effort to dethrone LeBron in the East and KD and Steph Curry in the West.

And just in case you’ve been vacationing on the back side of Siberia for the past week, here’s what’s been happening in NBA Free Agency:

Paul George left Indiana for OKC to play with Russell Westbrook.

Chris Paul left the LA Clippers for Houston to team with James Harden.

Jimmy Butler left Chicago for Minnesota to team with Karl Anthony Towns.

Gordon Hayward left Utah for Boston to play with Isiah Thomas and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum.

JJ Reddick left the LA Clippers to join Philly and their collective cash of young talent, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

AND with all that, the Warriors still got better. Not to be outdone, the defending champions coaxed Nick Young from the Lakers for a one year deal.

 And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So what about you?  What super team are you going to join? No one wants to lose, so why stay with a losing team when you can be on a winning team right now? And why play on a “good” team when you can play on a great team?

Team Trinity from Heaven is a super team. This team wins all of the time, and can defeat any foe.  This team has been winning and whipping and walloping opponents for centuries on end. God the Father, God the Son and yes, God the Holy Spirit have teamed since eternity past and this team is built to win now, and for all time. All we have to do is sign up and sign on, and learn, and execute, the game plan. That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

So why not sign up with this sacred, super team today? You’re destined to win with the Godhead. With the triumphant Trinity, you can and will defeat dastardly, diabolical, demonic denizens if you only stop trying to be a superhero by trying to do it all by yourself. 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, with all of his triple doubles this past season, proved one thing: that way just won’t work.

Rocket Science: CP3 Headed To Houston


There’s a fine line that separates the “haves”  from the have not’s. There’s a razor thin edge that differentiates the wealthy from the wanna bees. And there’s a cold front with a string of storms  a thousand miles long that distances good weather from bad weather and that keeps the sun of victory on the other side of the darkness of defeat. 

The age that separates old boys from young man is still fairly debateanle. And so the how of crossing over from boyhood to manhood is an untold mystery.  And so is the science of winning in sports. 

Chris Paul is headed to Houston to team up with James Harden in a blatant effort to keep up with, if not dethrone, the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Will this new “super team” work? That verdict is now in the hands of the jury, and they may be sequestered for quite some time.

Good teams want to stay good, and great teams want to stay great. And in an effort to go from good to great, we have another example of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer.  

The Houston Rockets, one of the NBA’s solid, sure footed squads,  is trying to get back to the top. And the only way to get there is to get by and get past the Golden State juggernaut.  

On the other hand, Paul leaving the LA Clippers is a sign that the Blake Griffin experiment failed and fell far short of expectations. The Chris Paul plus Blake Griffin equation was supposed to equal multiple championships. It did not. In actuality,, it barely came close. Hence, that fine line that separates and differentiates winning and losing and wisdom and folly and a good decision from a bad one.

Durant winning the championship in Oakland with Curry and Company changed everything. Now we’re going to see more and more attempts to assemble super teams. 

Winning in life is not rocket science.  You live well, do your best, treat others right, and leave the results up  to God. That’s it. Oh, and along the way, you’ll want to make good decisions, and a good decision shouldn’t take rocket science. 

But in this case, the chemistry needed to make a new Houston super team work  (with Paul George too?) may indeed take more than a wing and a prayer. 

Warriors Win!

The Golden State Warriors are just better. 

They’re better than the Cavaliers by a country mile. Yes the Dubs have Durant, but that’s not their fault.  Truth be told, the only reason this series wasn’t over in four games was that unbelievable, super human, Herculean effort in Game 4  by the Cavs which they will NEVER be able to duplicate.

On the other hand, the Warriors can turn it on at will, and they wanted to win at home instead of on the road. Nuff said.

So congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, the 2017 NBA Chdmpions.  And congrats to Kevin Durant, the Finals MVP.  He got his well deserved ring, and I for one am glad he did.