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8:06AM

RealClearSports: A Different Christmas for Stephen Curry

By Art Spander
For RealClearSports.com


OAKLAND -- This is a different Christmas for Stephen Curry. His first as a pro. His first away from home. His first playing basketball for a losing team.

Life is a learning process. Curry was ahead of the curve. His father, Dell, played in the NBA. Stephen knew more than others. But there was much he didn't know.

Read the full story here.

© RealClearSports 2009
8:41AM

SF Examiner: After 50 years in basketball, Attles remains a true Warrior

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


OAKLAND — He didn’t think his pro basketball career would last a day. It’s lasted 50 years. With one team, the Warriors.

There’s a song in “Follies,” the Sondheim musical of aging chorus girls recalling the 1920s and 1930s, titled “I’m Still Here.” Good times and bum times, the lady has been through them all. So, in his own way, has Al Attles. And always with the Warriors, whether Philadelphia, where he and they started, San Francisco or Oakland.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company
9:53AM

SF Examiner: Another Oakland athlete turns sour

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


OAKLAND — “Hello, vultures.” It was Stephen Jackson, the “get-me-out-of-here” guy getting in here with a welcome to the fifth estate, which is not to be confused with the four corners.

A few weeks back, Jackson said he wanted the Warriors to trade him and, subsequently, was fined $25,000 by the league for “statements detrimental to the NBA.”

But here it was media day — pro basketball is back — and here was Jackson, drawing a crowd seemingly larger than the one Sunday at the Coliseum for the Raiders.

Richard Seymour of the Raiders draws a personal foul for tugging at an opponent’s braids, and when asked about the incident by a columnist, grows belligerent. Seymour pulled a player’s hair, but didn’t like it when someone else pulled his own chain.

Then a day later, Jackson walks into the party, to borrow a line from Carly Simon, like he was walking onto a yacht, smug, smiling and when persuaded, truthful.

He knew full well he was the Warriors’ story and after some feigned indifference — “I already answered, so don’t ask me” — spent a good half hour telling the story, long enough to break your heart or your bankbook.

What happens to these athletes in Oakland? Are they stricken with Transpontine Madness? Is it being based adjacent to Berkeley?

Is it the new parking rates, a ripoff as big as Jackson’s fine?

Why did Matt Holliday bat zilch when he was with the A’s and turn into another Stan Musial with the St. Louis Cardinals? How come Seymour gets into a Raiders uniform and then gets into an argument? And why did Jackson receive a little $27 million bump in his salary and then attempt to flee?

Jackson’s explanation is that outside of him, the Warriors aren’t very good, but he said it in more gentle prose.

“We’re not getting any better,” was his analysis, followed immediately by, “No disrespect to all the guys on the team, and I’m not saying the job couldn’t get done with them.”

Thanks, Stephen. Such reassurance. No wonder you were chosen captain.

Jackson thought he could get it done with Baron Davis, pal Al Harrington and Jason Richardson, each of whom has been traded in the Warriors’ never-ending quest for instability.

They all were on the team when the Warriors in 2006-07 made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years and the only time in 15 years. Now it’s Jackson his own self, and uncomfortably at that.

“I know I had a big part in getting this organization back to the winning attitude, if not the biggest part, and every year I lost somebody that I felt helped me with that,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he stands by his attempt to get out of town.

“Even though I made the statements I made,” he advised, “I’m going to come here and play like I didn’t make them. I’m not going to lie down for nobody, even though we’ve been taking steps backward every year.”

Almost makes you want to tear your hair out. Oh, sorry, Mr. Seymour.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/Spander-Another-Oakland-athlete-turns-sour-62797762.html
Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company 
9:29AM

SF Examiner: Let the Warriors' puppet show begin

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

OAKLAND — It was pretty much what you expected, this snatching of the keys from the man who no longer mattered and handing them to the guy who already had been opening the locks and obviously the eyes of the team president.

The Warriors on Tuesday, as promised (or should it be, as threatened?) officially installed Larry Riley as general manager in place of the obviously quite replaceable if still much admired Chris Mullin.

There were a few promises, a lot of words and a bit of skepticism, from the people with notepads and microphones, not from the two primary subjects, Robert Rowell, the Warriors prez who made the decision to dispose of Mullin and bring in Riley, or Riley, who talked as tough as he thought was required.

The three people who would have made the session considerably more entertaining — if not necessarily more enlightening — owner Chris Cohan, head coach Don Nelson and the deposed Mullin were not in attendance.

But you can’t have everything.

Of all the Bay Area pro sports franchises, a group that aside from the Sharks has been appallingly ineffective, the Warriors always have been the lovable losers. That’s meant figuratively, because for two seasons out of the last 15 they actually had winning records.

Only once in those 15, however, did they make the playoffs, and yet, a public that would boo the bejabbers out of the 49ers or Raiders — and has done so — meekly accepts the Warriors. So, went the thinking, why would management worry about improvement?

Because, insisted Rowell in the media session at Oracle Arena, losing is “unacceptable.”

Well, isn’t that a shocker?

Whether Riley can make a difference is the question, because his immediate predecessors, Mullin and Garry St. Jean, could not.

Right off, Rowell addressed the oft-whispered belief that Riley is Nelson’s “puppet,” because he has known and worked with Nellie through the years and once took a Texas-to-California journey in Nellie’s truck while he and Don “smoked cigars, chewed tobacco and listened to George Jones.”

“I don’t buy it,” Rowell said of the marionette suggestion. “You got to understand, I got a coach who will be 69 on Friday. ... He’s going to be the winningest coach in NBA history with just 24 wins next season. He’s quirky, unconventional, stubborn and hates to lose. I need someone in a position to lead this organization who understands our head coach.”

Truth be told, it doesn’t matter if Nelson pulls the strings, as long as the strings end up attached to some playing talent.

“He knows what he’s doing,” the 64-year-old Riley said of Nelson. “I’ll make decisions. I don’t have any problem doing that.”

Riley was seemingly already making decisions, an eminence grise behind the scenes, while Mullin was slipping off the GM chair.

Mully still is employed by the Warriors until June 30 when his contract expires, and “has responsibilities,” according to Rowell — whatever that means.

A wonderful player, a good guy and a so-so GM, Mully lost out in a power struggle in which he had all the struggle and none of the power. Anyone ready for the puppet show?

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/Spander-Let-the-Warriors-puppet-show-begin-44854642.html
Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company 
9:05PM

Mullin better than Warriors deserved

OAKLAND -- It wasn’t exactly man-bites-dog stuff, the firing of Chris Mullin as the Golden State Warriors’ general manager. It was inevitability becoming fact.

Mullin, the lamest of lame ducks, got caught in what either was the saddest or funniest of sporting tragicomedies, sort of a Three Stooges version of “Hamlet.’’

For the past year, Mully wasn’t exactly a dead man walking, but through machinations among those above him (team president Robert Rowell) and around him (head coach Don Nelson), Chris had lost everything but his integrity.

Why this came about could perhaps be explained by those knowledgeable in Freudian theory or Communist theory, but there was no denying what had taken place, despite the denials or the silence.

On Monday afternoon, the Warriors, in one of those euphemistically phrased announcements, said “the club has elected not to renew’’ the contract of the 45-year-old Mullin, which expires June 30, and had replaced him with his 64-year-old assistant, Larry Riley.

Who is a pal of Nelson’s and who for the past few months has been in control of an operation most would agree is out of control.

Mullin had been elevated to vice president of basketball operations, or GM, in April 2004, a decision that at the time seemed both logical and intelligent. One of the Warriors’ stars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Chris worked his way through the front office, showing skill and intelligence.

But along the way, he and Rowell had disagreements. And as others have found throughout history, in that sort of situation, the boss, the guy who in effect signs the checks, always wins.

Mullin already was semi-ostracized by the time the great Monta Ellis caper took place last summer, not long after the guard signed a huge contract.

Ellis, at home in Mississippi, incurred a severe ankle injury -- he said playing pickup basketball but what in actuality was caused by a moped accident.

Rowell, angry and vindictive, wanted to deduct a large amount, several million, from the new $66 million contract, contending through the accident Ellis violated terms of the deal and implying that Monta’s long departure (he didn’t play until January) cheated season-ticket holders who thought Monta would be on the court, not in rehab.

However, Mullin, the ex-player, was more sympathetic, figuring the pain, physical and mental -- and maybe some actual guilt -- was more than enough punishment.

This came shortly after Mullin tried to re-sign the man who had become the face of the franchise, Baron Davis, while Rowell steadfastly refused to give Baron a salary reportedly around $18 million to $19 million a year.

Surely, the disagreements over both Davis and Ellis drove the wedge between Mullin and Rowell to where there could never be reconciliation.

And there won’t be.

“It’s never an easy decision to make a change,’’ was Rowell’s comment on the dispatching of Mullin. “This case is compounded by the fact it involves Chris Mullin -- someone who has provided Bay Area fans with many great memories over the years, as both a player and executive.

“He’s a class individual who will always be remembered for his accomplishments with the Warriors organization.’’

Oh yes, a lot of praise as they figuratively toss you out the door.

While there may not have been much surprise, there is among some a great deal of disappointment. Chris Mullin, until he understandably went into hiding a few months back -- if you have nothing to do, why hang around? -- basically was an upfront guy.

Whether he was a good general manager can be argued. He gave big contracts to people such as Adonal Foyle, Derek Fisher and Mike Dunleavy, but managed to slip out of those.

Mullin traded to New Orleans to get Davis, and that transaction was the key to the Warriors in 2006-07 making the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons and stunning the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

But Mullin also hired Mike Montgomery from Stanford to be the Warriors’ coach. Montgomery never got the attention of the pros, particularly Baron Davis. On came Don Nelson, out of retirement, to replace Montgomery.

The new GM, Larry Riley, is a Nelson man, if that means anything. A few days ago, Nellie conceded he wasn’t sure who was making the team’s preparations for next month’s draft.

It wasn’t Chris Mullin. Even before he was out, he was on the outs. The Warriors, who had a 29-53 record this past season (Ellis’ injury and Baron’s departure were blamed), are once again waddling in confusion.

Chris Mullin may not miss all that transpired the last few months, the uncertainty, the power struggle, but we’ll miss Chris Mullin. He was better than the Warriors deserved.
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