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San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors, October 25 [2016)

Sports are an important part of our lives.

Even the great savant Erik Satie wrote a series of 21 piano pieces called Sports et divertissements.

That was in 1914.

And though I am two days late on reporting, that 102-year-old reference makes me feel a bit less tardy.

Yes, two nights ago…a team (the San Antonio Spurs) went into their first matchup of the season versus a team (the Golden State Warriors), to whom the former was an 8-point-underdog, and pulled off a 29-point-upset-victory…on the road!

Ah, predictions…

If there’s one thing I like about Donald Rumsfeld (in fact, there is ONLY one thing) its his famous rundown of known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns.

Got that?

Yes, it takes a moment to digest.

Risk vs. uncertainty.

As I understand it, risk is a known- (relatively-speaking) unknown.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, is an unknown-unknown.

Perhaps I have it ass-backwards, but to get back to the subject at hand (basketball)…those Vegas bookmakers who predicted a Golden State Warriors victory were WAY, WAY OFF.

An eight-point-win would have been a modestly-comfortable victory for the Warriors.

A 29-point-loss was an embarrassment (or, for a Spurs fan like me, a triumph).

How could a prediction be so off???

Not only did the Warriors not win, but they got their asses handed to them.

Not to belabor the point (too late…)…

But the San Antonio Spurs (my hometown team) played a tremendous game.

And while we are on the subject of predictions, it is worth mentioning the suspect (as in, criminal suspicion) political polls which have been melting the minds of pliant Americans.

Our Presidential election draws near.

If my math is right, “election day” (early voting has already begun) is just 12 days away.

Hillary Clinton has been roundly lauded as the presumptive victor by our extremely-poor-quality mass media.

Funny enough, her recent “lead” in polls has been, at times, ostensibly in the “eight point” range.

Do I expect Donald Trump to win by 29 points?

No.

But I hope he wins.  [And the bigger the margin, the better.]

Not only is Hillary self-admittedly “out of touch” with the little people like me (kinda like those out-of-touch Vegas bookmakers), but to exacerbate the problem…she has had her media “surrogates” convey her party’s (the Democratic Party’s) repugnant arrogance regarding the outcome as a fait accompli.

Not surprisingly, this has not set well with the little people.

And so her inflated poll numbers have unequivocally been dropping in recent days.

What will the outcome be?

I don’t know.

I’m just here to talk about basketball, obviously 🙂

But more importantly (or at least more germane to this venue), I am here to talk about sports as cinema.

As film.

[Just as I have talked about television as cinema (or its opposite) in recent months.]

Like the three U.S. Presidential debates, the San Antonio Spurs delivered blow after blow two nights ago:

-an “It’s called business.” strip of Steph Curry at midcourt (a point guard getting picked!) by Kawhi Leonard followed by a floating, poised breakaway jam.

-a “You’d be in jail.” slam dunk by Jonathon Simmons to put the exclamation point on this authoritative ass-kicking.

-and, not to forget the journeyman, plenty of “Such a nasty woman.” buckets by LaMarcus Aldridge to blow the lead open…most of them over the appropriately-annoying Draymond Green.

Truth be told, Draymond Green is a bit like the Donald Trump of the NBA.

[My metaphor does not “map neatly…on a one-to-one basis” (as Clay Christensen might say).]

We respect the energy and passion of Draymond Green, but the San Antonio Spurs showed “disruptive innovation” at work.

And just as General Hugh Shelton and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff were interested in Christensen’s ideas (“disruptive innovation” [and well they should have been]), much of the credit for Tuesday night’s shellacking should go to the only true sports genius on the planet:  Gregg Popovich.

It’s not often you find a sports coach who has a degree in Soviet studies.

Not often you find a coach who considered a career in the CIA.

Much of the Spurs’ success since 1999 (five NBA championships) has to do with Gregg Popovich’s “military discipline” approach to leadership.

It’s not polite.

It’s harsh accountability.

But there is a loving presence just visible under the harsh exterior.

Popovich’s time at the US Air Force Academy (and his service to his country in the same branch of the armed forces) evidently directs his unique grasp of the game of basketball.

A game is a battle.

A season is a war.

And so the grizzled Popovich can be seen barking from the sidelines and, alternately, looking through handfuls of notecards stashed in the pockets of his suit coat (upon which are written plays for every conceivable scenario…i.e. contingencies).

Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, is a wonderful person.

But he got outcoached Tuesday night by an old, dedicated hand.

It’s not just about the missiles in your silos, but about how you use them.

Sadly, for a long time now…the world has been unable to fight wars.

Battles, yes.

But wars, no.

I say “sadly” only because the threat of total global annihilation awaits those parties who would be so foolish as to start and wage a war.

As the wisdom-deficient Hillary Clinton foolishly blurted out in one of our Presidential debates, it takes just four minutes from the launch order by the US President to the ignition and liftoff of ICBMs in places like South Dakota.

But let’s back to film.

What do we get in a sporting event?

On opening night (which this was), you get hype.

You get cuckoo announcers like Marv Albert.

And you get plenty of advertisements.

But you don’t want to hear about such boring things as the mise-en-scène of US sporting events, do you?

Of course not!

You want to hear about more exciting things…like statistics 🙂

Numbers indeed do tell a story.

As the great #21 (remember Satie?) Tim Duncan retired at the end of last season, the Spurs were in need of a “footer” (a 7-foot-tall [or thereabouts] big man) to “protect the rim”.

[I’m using liberal quotation marks for the benefit of my international readers and even domestic non-sports-fans {to whom I owe at least one email} <sorry about that>.]

The numbers say that the new-look Spurs needed only 2 points and 4 rebounds from newly-acquired Catalonian star Pau Gasol (Tim Duncan’s “replacement”) to beat the ostensibly “stacked” Golden State Warriors.  Pau played a breezy 18 minutes.

The Warriors (Walter Hill) had the weapons.

The Spurs had the drive.

Kawhi Leonard, the Marcel Marceau of the NBA (and my favorite sportsman), had a career-high 35 points.  The back-to-back NBA Defensive Player of the Year also added a cool 5 steals to his stat line.

Of all the Spurs, none is more classy and enigmatic than Kawhi Leonard.

He did not come out, like LeBron James, and support “the biggest loser” Hillary Clinton.

No.

Kawhi just improved his game.

In the offseason.

And as he has done in the opener each of the past few seasons, he took his game to another level on Tuesday night.

He seemed to barely break a sweat.

But the Spurs won because, as they always do, they played as a unit–a finely-organized killing machine.

In most sports (thank God!), nobody gets killed.

It’s a metaphor.

Indeed, it’s a war game.

The Spurs operate like twelve pawns…but each has the capability to be the queen at any given moment.

[That metaphor is not likely to go over well with any macho readers who might come across this article :)]

Use tight prose.

Embrace specificity.

And throw your enemies off-guard with a smiley face every now and then 🙂

This is the art of war.

The ART of war.

129-100

 

-PD

 

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