Saturday, April 9, 2016


Dedicated readers and friends are aware of my Philadelphia roots. It's been pointed out to me, perhaps by my wife but I think also in the more public media, that Philadelphians are very loyal, even when they move away. Ann herself aids me in this sentimental attachment, as she refuses to allow that after over 40 years of residence that I might have become a Californian. Nope! So, not to be stateless, in the eyes of intramarital law I might still be a Philadelphian.

There are circumstances, however, that blur the line. Two of our teams here in Oakland, like me, have Philadelphia roots, the A's and the Warriors. So in fact I have two double home teams, and can be doubly proud of both for their past or present preeminence. For the A's it's the past. For the Warriors, however, always my team, and always the vehicle for glorying not only in Philadelphia but also in the game of basketball, the time is now.

What a team! If only Curry were from Philadelphia and not North Carolina! But I'll give him a pass. As my ticket-partner Lois said at the Giants game on opening day, his parents can certainly take pride in the way they brought him up – and she wasn't referring to teaching him how to shoot. What a great young man, it seems. And what a great team.

Which brings us up to date on the controversy, whenever basketball greatness arises – who is best? My close and lifelong friend Bob Levin ( has assembled a small but lively and certainly well-informed email basketball and Philadelphia and Warriors conversational group, the latest addition to which is one Eric Bernthal. Eric opined:

Here’s a comparison which does have substance and reasoning (and some kind of hocus-pocus computer “simulation” to create an aura of authenticity),,  but when you read it, I think you’re struck by just one thing: how incredibly well-matched these teams are. (The matching, seven-foot, Australian centers provide a great start.)

As much as I love the Warriors (and I really do), I think there are still two immutable points that say that – as of today – the Bulls are better: first, the Bulls were dominant for a much longer time; maybe the Dubs will get there, but maybe not. The Warriors have to prove that they have the endurance, discipline, good health and good fortune to last a lot longer than they have before anyone can anoint them credibly as the greatest team ever.  Second, there is still only one Michael Jordan.  Maybe, three or four years from now, Steph will be seen as one of the greatest of all-time, but you just can’t make the case today. It’s too soon. (I also think that he’s more likely to go down in history like Iverson than Jordan – spectacularly accomplished for his size and weight, a tremendous competitor and dazzlingly talented, but not the greatest of them all. That’s Jordan. It’s only Jordan.)

In one respect, though, the Warriors totally dominate the Bulls: likeability. You have to love Curry, and no one could love Jordan; you have to love Green, and no one could love Pippen; okay, maybe Klay Thompson isn’t totally loveable, but he’s sure no Dennis Rodman.

And I rejoined:

Generally right.

But ... Curry has been simply incredible, just differently from Michael.  Finesse over power.  What an array of shots!  High, high off the backboard - he basically invented a way for small to beat big.  Innovative.
Also, Iverson never really made his teammates so much better, the way Curry does.  Iverson was more like a better Monta Ellis with some extra moves.
Also, "likability" is more than just likability.  It's a far different experience to have a joyful team cheering each other, with leadership distributed, rather than a dominated team with a black heart.  I think that joyfulness is part of quality.  Curry not only makes the whole team better, the Warriors make all of us better.
And Eric rejoined:

I don’t disagree with a word of that. I watched them beat San Antonio the other night, and it is indeed pure joy to watch them, not just as basketball players, but as great young men relating with enthusiasm and warmth toward each other. And in terms of character, to the extent this stuff is really knowable from afar, Curry and Jordan represent the two absolute extremes.

Later on, Bob added this:

My old Philadelphia friend John Bernard, when a student at Swarthmore, invited a celebrated Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist to speak, a man he had read daily for years. (Could it have been San Hochman?)  John asked him privately why a smart guy like him devoted himself to the essentially trivial pursuit of sports. The writer replied that you see all of life in sports. The younger guy coming up to challenge the veteran, for instance. And so much more.

Another answer could have been, life is sports.

Budd Shenkin

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