by John Walters
Susie B, please check in to assure us you are alive. I don’t want to have to send paramedics out to your home.
Shooting Out The Walls of Heartache*
*The judges will also accept “Kevin Can’t Wait” and “K.D. and the Sunshine Band”
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry (from the poem To A Mouse by Robert Burns). But in this case it didn’t. The Dubs lost Game 7 to the Cavs last June after a record-setting 73-9 season, then lured the NBA’s best player who was not involved in that series (Kevin Durant), then rode him to a 68-15 season, a 16-1 postseason, and a 4-1 victory over the Cavs in the NBA Finals.
Cleveland led 41-33 in the second quarter, and then Durant and Stephen Curry (two players who’ve won the last three NBA MVP awards) led a 27-4 tear to put GSW up 60-45 and all of a sudden the pressure was off. Game over, series over, and the Dubs wouldn’t choke for the second year in a row. Durant scored 39 last night and averaged 35.1 per game in the Finals; Curry scored 34 last night and averaged nearly 27.
Satisfying for Durant, his teammates and the Bay Area. I shrugged. This was supposed to happen. https://t.co/yF35GqLpBS
— Chris Corbellini (@ChrisCorbellini) June 13, 2017
Both dudes are still under 30 years old. The Dubs win their second NBA Finals of the past three years and looked primed for more. Meanwhile, I don’t know if the Spurs would have taken them down or not, but I’ll forever wonder, seeing as how they were up 25 at Oracle in the 3rd quarter when Kawhi Leonard was lost for the series, what might have been…
2. Classic Pitt Pic
Above, and taken Sunday by Charles LeClaire of USA Today Sports, is the most iconic Pittsburgh baseball photo since the 1960 World Series. That’s centerfielder Andrew McCutchen leaping over the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto in a feckless attempt to avoid the tag and score. No luck, but the Pirates still won, 6-1.
This shot, of students atop the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning watching the fateful moment when Bill Mazeroski’s shot won Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, remains the most iconic shot in Iron City baseball history.
Despite averaging a triple double during the NBA Finals (33.6 points, 12 boards and 10 assists per game), LeBron James could only lead the Cavs to one win. You can argue, effectively that he was the MVP in both the 2015 and the 2017 Finals, or at least the top performer.
So what went wrong for the C.C.s? It’s weird, their second banana (Kyrie Irving) outscored the Dubs’ second banana, their third banana (third banana?), Kevin Love, scored only two fewer than GSW’s third while out-rebounding everyone in the Finals except LeBron. And 4th-7th bananas outscored GSW’s by 22 points. In fact, GSW only drained one more three per game than Cleveland did (both teams shot .382 from beyond the arc). The two teams were one turnover away from being dead even (GSW committed one more, on the final play of the Finals). The stats appear to line up in Cleveland’s favor.
So what went wrong? Without digging too deep, I’d say ASSISTS. Golden State had 147 assists to Cleveland’s 108. Simply a better passing team scoring more easy buckets, which is demoralizing for a defense. Sure, Kevin Durant also went wrong for the Cavs, but that one number is huge. The Dubs average nearly 30 assists per game. The Cavs averaged 21.
Where does Cleveland go now? They got Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith to compete with the Dubs from an ICBM standpoint. And they sorta did. But they need to be younger and more athletic. Fewer vets and more guys like, well, Andrew Wiggins (that said, Kevin Love did have a good series, averaging 16 and 12; not a superstar series, but a good one).
Meanwhile, LeBron actually said last night, “I don’t believe I’ve played for a ‘super team.’ ” (What Was Allegedly Written On Your Gate), please.
4. Donald Akbar
Yesterday at the White House members of Donald Trump‘s cabinet, in their first full meeting, took turns at giving him a hand…job. This “adulation bath” as it is called was both prompted by Trump and noticeably on camera.
Mike Pence: “Greatest privilege of my life.”
Etc. I liked also when the budget director said, “We are going to take care of the people who really need it,” i.e., the top 5% of income earners.
It’s as if he’s not satisfied simply being the worst president America will ever have. He wants to be even less than that.
Here’s Seth Meyers on the grandstanding…
5. The First Concert Festival
Last weekend they staged the 16th Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, and it was once again a big deal as U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if anyone paid homage to the fact that last weekend also marked the 50th anniversary of the genesis of all U.S. concert festivals (even though Genesis did not appear), where a weekend ticket cost $2.
The Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival took place on scenic Mount Tamalpais in Marin County and was a two-day event sponsored by a local San Francisco radio station. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 music and hallucinogenic fans showed up to launch, effectively, the famed Summer of Love (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had been released in the U.S. just one week earlier).
Check out the lineup: Dionne Warwick, The Doors, The Byrds, Captain Beefheart, The Fifth Dimension, The Grass Roots, Tim Buckley, the Steve Miller Band, and a young Janis Joplin fronting a band. A local deejay named Sly Stone sat in the crowd and took it all in.
If you’re a music fan, read this tremendously entertaining oral history of the weekend from Rolling Stone (the mag would launch in SF later that year), which talks about how the Hell’s Angels gave musicians rides to the show on the backs of their bikes and how the lead singer of Captain Beefheart had a bad trip in the middle of their set (psychedelic drugs) that led to a worse fall.
Nights Are Forever
Mid-Seventies soft-power rock (admittedly, it’s quite a niche category) didn’t get any better than England Dan & John Ford Coley. This tune lit up AM radio in late 1976 and rose to No. 10 on the Billboard chart, off the album of the same name.
Go outside tonight. Or read The Sellout from Paul Beatty. Nothing on.