Stocking stuffers aren’t real presents. They are mini-presents that can be opened and played with, and often aren’t even wrapped. Somewhat like these short little pieces and thoughts for the holidays.
1. Warriors: I went to Staples last night to watch the number one team in the West, and possibly the Spurs’ main competition to get out of the West. No, not the Lakers. Or the Clippers. The Warriors are very fun to watch – much like the Spurs, they play the game "the right way". And like I pointed out about the Spurs in my Thanksgiving piecehttp://www.poundingtherock.com/2014/11/27/7299749/happy-thanksgiving-spurs-fans , the Warriors seem to be "good people". My college roommate’s son played varsity soccer at Davidson, and got to know Steph Curry well. He reports that Steph is indeed a good guy. If our favorite teams goes down in the playoffs, as is certainly possible in this year’s Western Conference, I give Spurs fans permission to cheer instead for the Warriors (especially if they play against the Cavs). Even with last night’s inexplicable loss to the Lakers, the Warriors are now 23 and 4 – put another way, they are on a pace to win 69 games.
2. Any Given Tuesday: Describing the Laker win as inexplicable is putting it mildly. In the NFL, there is an expression that any team can beat another team "any given Sunday". The NBA is taking that one step further – "any given Tuesday (or whatever other day you choose)". The Spurs have inexplicably lost to the Nets, the Jazz and the Lakers. Last night, the Warriors starting guards were Curry and Thompson, a leading MVP candidate and a certain all-star. The Lakers starting backcourt was Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington. Ellington is averaging 6.7 points per game – which is much better than Price, who is averaging 4.7 points on 34% shooting overall, 28% from three. Since last night happened to be the Lakers "any given Tuesday", Price lit up the Warriors for 17 points and 8 assists on 6 for 10 overall, 3 for 7 from 3, and the Lakers cruised to a surprisingly easy victory. (The only solace to this Spurs fan is that the Spurs lost close games to the NBA dregs, the Warriors were blown out.)
3. Vlade: Whenever I go to an NBA game, I always wear sneakers of some sort. You can all guess why – there is a 1 in 17,000 shot that I will be the fan chosen to shoot at half-time. However, we all know (or at least strongly believe) that NBA teams go out of the way to choose non-players to take the half-court or 3-point shot that will win them thousands of dollars. However, last night at halftime, a very large athletic looking guy walked out at halftime to take the $90,000 shot. When he turned around, we saw it was ex-Laker (and King and Hornet) Vlade Divac. Who then stepped up and hit nothing but net from half court. The place went crazy, Jack Nicholson hugged Vlade – as did his ex-teammate and current Laker coach Bryon Scott. Two Christmas miracles on one night. Vlade showed why NBA teams don’t pick anyone who ever played to take the half-court shot at halftime.
4. Kerr: The Warriors rookie coach is Steve Kerr, after the Warriors fired Mark Jackson at the end of last year. They did so because with all the amazing offensive firepower the Warriors clearly have, they were middle of the pack in offensive efficiency and scoring. This disparity arose because Jackson insisted on running an isolation and post-up game, because that is what he was good at when he played. Kerr has replaced that offense with aSpurs-likefree-flowing motion offense, with the ball swinging from side to side, often winding up with an open three from Curry, Thompson or one of the other Warrior shooters. Interesting moment last night: Kerr called timeout last night with the Warriors down 10 pointswith 14 seconds left. I strongly believe Kerr did that to give himself practice drawing up plays at game-end. After all, last night was his 28thgameasa coach at any level. Somehow, I don’t think Pop needs practice drawing up plays at game end.
5. Manu: I know there has been some grousing on these pages about ManuGinobli’s play as of late. I get it. However, there have also been comments about how much fun it has been to watch him over the years. One thing I would add to that – Manualways seems to be having fun. The over the shoulder flip to Danny Green Monday nightwas fun to watch, and you know Manu just loved throwing it. He is one guy I can see playing Saturday mornings with a bunch of buddies when he is 50 years old. He just loves to play – and it is contagious. Watching Manu play is indeed "joy to the world", exactly what we all want during these holidays.
I hope you enjoyed your stocking stuffers. Happy Holidays and a Hoopy New Year to all.