Pre-Game: Dolores Park
In Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga writes,
“at any moment, even in a highly developed civilization, the play-‘instinct’ may reassert itself in full force, drowning the individual and the mass in the intoxication of an immense game.”
Dubs\Cavs 3.0 Game Four. The final game of an epic sweep! How much more IMMENSE does it get?
This morning, still hung over from replays of KD’s last shot over LeBron, to jump start my pulse, I turn again to Chron pundits, ESPN, and the incomparable Eric Apricot at Golden State of Mind.
Intoxication? Or addiction?
Amidst wondrous tales of Steph rebounding and Klay shooting, I remember something actually important happened: The UK election.
Going into the election, the Conservatives led by 23 points. Every day for the past two years, the mainstream Murdoch media has maligned Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn as the bastard son of Joseph Stalin and Bernie Sanders.
Victory was certain. The bubbly was put on ice.
This morning the ice is melted. British millennials turned out big time for Labor, squashing the Tory majority and turning their Brexit game plan upside down.
Big Upset. Again.
How many times does the Universe have to tell us? Beware of the Sure Thing!
While the noise is being artificially ramped up to ear-splitting levels in Cleveland, the natural super-chill of Dolores Park is mind-altering. Like people here know something I don’t.
“We got this one OG,” Keri laughs from behind a cloud of smoke.
First Quarter: Dovre Club
If the Mission is swept up in the intoxication of a Sweep, you wouldn’t know it from the sparce crowd at Clooney’s Pub, one of the district’s old sports bars. Intoxication yes. Dubs, not so much. I walk a block over to the Dovre Club. I used to go to the Dovre Club back when it was in Dovre Hall, better known today as the Women’s Building. A lot has changed. A lot more women (like more than one) than back in the day. A lot less IRA.
When Keri said, “we got this one,” I assumed she meant we Dubs’ fans. But what if she’s a fake local? What if she’s from Cleveland? Like me.
The Cavs come out playing like All-Stars they are. But something’s different. It’s not just a two man show. And every shot they put up goes in.
They can’t keep this going.
They keep this going.
And more. If the Cavs miss, which they don’t, but if they do, they get the ball right back and either tip it in or toss it out to Smith or Love or Irving or LeBron for a 3.
And more. The Cavs are passing the ball, moving the ball, finding the open man who has an open look for an open shot. An open 3.
The Dubs? Wait. They’re still in the locker room.
Usually, a team wants to score at least 25 points in a quarter. After 6 minutes, half a quarter, the Cavs have already scored 27 and have a fourteen point lead.
One forlorn fan at the Dovre Club wears a Latrell Sprewell jersey. Sprewell (“Spree”) is best known around these parts for trying to strangle his coach. The jersey unsettles me. I could use a time out.
And more. The refs. Every time the Dubs get a stop, the refs call them for a foul. Every time the Cavs make a shot, the refs call the Dubs for a foul. Overall the Cavs take 22 foul shots in the first quarter. 22!
And more. More? Steve Kerr, coaching in excruciating pain, gets called for a technical foul. Every close call, every loose ball, goes against the Dubs. When Kyrie Irving dribbles the ball through his legs for a back court violation, incredibly the refs let it go.
Second Quarter: Napper Tandy
Fans spilling out of the bar, into the wind, onto the sidewalk. Watch the game through the window or the doors, Less crowded though cold.
Basketball, like KD said the other day, is a rhythm game. And the Dubs are the ultimate rhythm team. In the second quarter, though the Dubs hit shots, and generally keep pace with the Cavs, even from the sidewalk on 24th street, the couple up from Stockton for the weekend can tell the Dubs are out of sync. The woman guesses it has something to do with the way the Cavs are playing defense on Steph Curry. Overall, the Cavs appear to be playing a much tougher, physical defense than the Dubs. Which is not a good sign.
At the buzzer, KD hits a 3.
“Eighteen down at the half sounds a lot better than 21,” says a guy from Gilroy standing outside the window.
Not that much.
I’ve got to get as far away as possible from Cleveland, so I go underground. Rarely has a BART station felt so welcoming.
Relatives and friends got on my case for trashing “Believeland” after Game 2. “When you come home, you must take the Trolley Tour,” my cousin emails. “It will blow your mind.”
I feel like the first half has already blown my mind, but by the time I emerge from the pit at 16th street plaza, I feel good about the Dubs’ chances. They will make adjustments like they always do and the Cavs will tire out. Get ready to party!
Third Quarter: Elixir
If the Dubs are to make history, I will watch it from a historical perspective. I go to the Elixir, longest operating saloon in the city, which got it’s start as a watering hole at the end of the Mission Plank Road, the Mission Street of the 1850s. Wooden planks were used in those days because the road crossed creeks, swamps, lagoons and lakes.
Which may explain the sinking feeling.
Both the Dubs and the Cavs turn up the defensive screws and for good measure, the Cavs are clawing, biting, holding, assaulting, strangling – no rhythm is allowed. It gets worse! Zaza Pachulia goes after Iman Shumpert’s balls. LeBron and KD get technical fouls for trash talking each other after Kevin Love bashes KD in the head.
“Give it to him KD,” the woman behind me screams in passionate defense of her Dubs. Or maybe she’s a agent provocateur paid by the NBA to boost ratings.
The Dubs do much better on defense but not nearly good enough, except for KD, on offense. Still they threaten to cut the lead to single digits going into the fourth quarter. But the refs call a foul or guys named LeBron and Kyrie turn them back. And Kyle Korver, who missed a big one at the end last game, hits a 3 toward the end of the quarter which pretty much ices the thing.
Fourth Quarter: Delirium
As predicted, the Cavs are fagged by the fourth quarter. As unpredicted, so are the Dubs. Shots by anyone without the initials KD clang against the rim as the game groans to a merciful conclusion.
The difference tonight was the Cavs made 3s. A ton of 3s. This is exactly what LeBron built them to do. They also outhustled the Dubs, faster and tougher. They clearly wanted it more.
From an NBA Inc. perspective, it could not have been a better game if it had been scripted. As entertainment, the Finals are once again a hot ticket. And though the Dubs lost on the court tonight, Dubs Inc. won on the balance sheet. According to ESPN, Dubs Inc. will reap more than $22 million from Game 5.
From Russia, team officials deny collusion and conspiracy.
So the circus returns to a parking lot off 580 called Golden State with the Dubs up 3-1.
Beware of the Sure Thing.