S.F. Examiner: Fight night: Feisty Warriors-Clippers rivalry back on center stage

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Consider it proof that rivalries still matter and thrive in sports. What unfurls again tonight in downtown Los Angeles, and what could await in the second round of the postseason, qualifies as NBA antagonism at its thickest and feistiest. From a near-brawl on a memorable Christmas night to the ongoing commentary of Draymond Green, the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers truly cannot stand each other, which is a little hard to believe when weighing the respective histories of the franchises.

"We don't like each other," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said, flatly.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 


S.F. Examiner: ’75 champs show what can be done by Warriors

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

He ran off the court and yelled to no one in particular, “It’s destiny.” At least that’s what was written. But Butch Beard isn’t quite sure what he shouted. Not from a distance of 40 years.

“Maybe I did say that,” Beard said, searching his memory. “That first game was sort of a miracle. We were way down. And then Hopper got in there.” Hopper was the nickname for Charles Dudley, whose frenzied play that first game of the 1974-75 NBA Finals brought back the Warriors from a 16-point deficit to victory.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Things just keep going south for 49ers

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

It has to do with saints, and that’s not the New Orleans franchise, but the ones after whom the two cities were named.

The 49ers were fine when they played in the city of St. Francis. Six appearances in the Super Bowl, five victories. Everything’s come apart since they moved to the city of St. Clare, even though she’s, yes, the patron saint of television.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 


Federer’s longevity was well-planned

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The temperature was 89 degrees when Roger Federer finished another match without figuratively working up a sweat.

The man seemingly never grows old. He’s 33, which in tennis age is somewhere between remembering what used to be and reminding yourself to retire.

Unless you’re Federer, who said he planned his career to last and not flame out.

And, despite traveling with a wife and two sets of young twins, he figuratively carries no baggage.

Doesn’t carry his opponents either. On Sunday, he beat some poor kid named Diego Schwarzman, 6-4, 6-2. That’s a problem for tennis: the nobodies — Schwarzman, a 22-year-old Argentinean is ranked 63rd — get sent in like cannon fodder to face the stars.

It’s like a high-school kid trying to guard Stephen Curry. You lose confidence as quickly as you lose matches.

Yes, everyone started down there. In his postgame musings to the big crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden’s 16,100-seat Stadium Court, Federer recalled his first appearance 15 years ago in the tournament now called the BNP Paribas Open.

“I was way out there,” he said pointing to an unseen court of the desert complex east of Palm Springs, “in a sandstorm.”

Once a player breaks through, finally gets beyond the first and second rounds, earns enough points to get matched against someone of, for that moment, his or her own skill, it all changes.

For Federer, an emotional player as a teenager in his native Switzerland, the great leap was when he defeated Pete Sampras, a seven-time champion, in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2001.   

Suddenly Federer was the player the other guys had to get past. And they rarely did.

He took Wimbledon seven times. He has a men’s record 19 Grand Slams. And if he’s still not at the summit, occupied now by Novak Djokovic, No. 2 is impressive. And reassuring. 

“I’m very happy,” said Federer. “I was feeling good in practice. Today I was moving well, which is the key on this surface (slower hard courts) because the easy shots and easy points are not going to happen here like they maybe do in Dubai or Australia or the indoor season.

“So I always have to adjust my game accordingly.”

It was Justin Gimmelstob of the Tennis Channel, a one-time ranked player, who asked Federer if he were surprised by his longevity.

“I organized my career this way,” said Federer, who later in the mass press conference went into greater detail.

“The idea,” explained Federer, “was always trying to be around the game a long time.”

To his satisfaction, to the satisfaction of tournament organizers, the idea was realized.

If the fault of tennis, using an unintended play on words, is that it’s difficult for the young players to move ahead, the other side is that fans cheer for the favorites, not the underdogs. They come to see the stars, to see Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, all winners on Sunday.

Without team loyalty, tennis needs individuals who not only are champions but are famous. Federer meets that requirement.

He does Mercedes commercials. He does espresso machine commercials (for the Swiss company Jura Capressa). And he did in Schwarzman in 1 hour 3 minutes.

“Whatever we do, we will plan long-term,” Federer said, alluding to a template designed by him and his advisers. “Sure we can chase money or more tournament victories. We can play more frequently, more often, train harder.

“But we decided to stay around 20 tournaments a year, which is a lower number . . . I want to play good. I want to play injury-free if possible. Of course, we all play hurt. But the goal was to stay around a long time. I think I did get inspired by seeing 32-year-olds, 35-year-olds. They almost did a favor that I could play against them. Would they have retired at 28, I would never have seen them on tour.”

He saw them. Now we continue to see Roger Federer, graceful, elegantly smooth, popular. Every point he scored drew an overwhelming roar. You felt sorry for Schwarzman.

The Tennis Garden is owned by Larry Ellison, and does he need to be identified? (A couple of nights ago, in the first row, John McEnroe sat between Ellison and Bill Gates. Nobody was diving for dropped change.)

“He likes to talk about tennis,” Federer told Gimmelstob about conversations with Ellison, “and I like to talk about other things. He doesn’t just sit there and act like, ‘Uh, I own the tournament.’ He really knows the details.”   

So, in a different way, does Roger Federer, Mr. Forever.


Bleacher Report: Introspective Serena Williams Embraces Role Model Chance in Indian Wells Return

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — She’s spoken out before. Well, shouted out. At a linesperson during the 2009 U.S. Open. Endless invective. Serena Williams was never afraid to show her passion.

Or now after years of boycotting one of the more important tennis tournaments in the world, her compassion.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.