The end fast approaches, but oh what a ride! Any country that produces Walt Whitman, Nat King Cole and Groucho Marx must be doing something right. But for every I.F. Stone there is a United Fruit Company. For every amber wave of grain there is a Monsanto exec rewriting the Constitution. For every Emma Goldman there is a Hillary Clinton. For every Thomas Paine there is a Sacco and Vanzetti, a Bradley Manning, an Eric Holder prosecuting victims pulled from the smoking rubble because the wafting aroma of nano-thermite in the morning smells suspiciously like Albion Ridge sativa.
But speaking of Mendoland’s finest export since Jim Jones, who can bothered by the negative downer brigade when the Warriors are tied 2-2 against the San Antonio Spurs? Cynics may decry sport as the ultimate mass opiate, but as a friend puts it, “They should try smoking ten bowls of Chem-Dog x Jack Herer while watching Golden State in the fourth quarter.”
Speaking of out of body experiences, I was lucky enough to be in the stands last Thursday when the Warriors built up a 16-point lead over the Denver Nuggets with only four minutes to play. Having waited 38 years for anything approaching this impossible moment, the stadium exploded like a hanging curve off of Willie McCovey’s angry lumber. I closed my eyes and saw the ghosts of Butch Beard, Bill Bridges and Derrick Dickey. I saw the aching poetry of the ball spiraling towards half-court as Clifford Ray missed yet another dunk. I saw George Johnson slamming the ball against the 24-second clock in warm-ups, thus delaying tip-off as a league flunky was sent to the Oakland swap meet to find a replacement timer and two stolen bikes. I saw Keith (soon to be Jamaal) Wilkes hitting a feathery baseline jumper, and Rick Barry sinking five thousand underhand free throws in a row. I won’t say what I saw Phil Smith and Jeff Mullins doing, but rest assured it was art, not pornography.
But the problem with memory is that it doesn’t last forever. Instead of politely dispatching the Nuggets with an impersonal (yet courteous) missile from a Predator Drone, the Warriors suddenly couldn’t inbounds the ball against Denver’s desperate press. They couldn’t pass. They couldn’t dribble. They didn’t appear to have any idea how to get the ball upcourt. In a lifetime of being tortured by pro hoops, I had never witnessed anything like it. No one had. These are the best players in the world, and every team has several guys who can pass and ball handle well enough to make mincemeat of any press. Except the Warriors. Except now.
As my cousin Robert and I looked on in horror, Golden State fell apart at the seams. One minute we were riding blue and gold sharks named Curry and Bogut along the pristine Great Barrier Reef, and the next we were in Guantanamo prison, cleared for release but held indefinitely. (And oh yeah, our lawyer was just found with a bullet hole in his forehead.) But the bile was choked back, the crisis averted, and the Warriors summoned their inner cockroach (e.g., Boonville high school “educator”) and survived the uranium-tipped shell-shocking water-boarding bun-nuzzling speed-crazed rodent that tested our George W. Bush-like resolve. Bring it on, Texas Air Guard!
Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Golden State is tied somehow two games apiece with perennial powerhouse San Antonio. Our genius scorer Steph Curry is hobbling. David Lee is making cameo appearances. Jarrett Jack is still turning the ball over at crucial times, but also hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Harrison Barnes is showing vast potential. Draymond Green is hitting threes. Klay Thompson is knocking down 22-footers and playing in-your-jockstrap defense. It’s maddening. It’s exhilarating. And it’s proof that one day the workers of the world will unite. We will hit jumpshots with time expiring. We will block Tim Duncan shots. We will cut off the corporate baseline and elbow dirty flopping Wall Street poseurs in their soft throats. It may take 38 more years, though Vegas bookies put the over/under at 38 centuries. Still, it’s only a matter of time. And if you don’t believe, then ask someone about the first game of last year’s World Series. Maligned soft-tosser Barry Zito for the Giants took the mound against all-galaxy Justin Verlander for the Tigers. No way San Francisco could win. No way could the Panda hit three home runs. No way could the feared Tiger sluggers could be befuddled, confused and anemic against Zito’s 80 mile an hour fastball and 81 mile an hour curve. Guess what? Go Warriors. Go Sharks. Go Giants. Bay Area sports fans, we have nothing left to lose but our chains.