It’s Christmas, which means that by the time you read this, your family room will have been transformed into some joyous facsimile of a postapocalyptic North Pole, with tattered wrapping paper, twisted ribbons, bent boxes, gleaming toys, unfolded new clothes and crumb-dusted plates strewn as far as the eye can see.
Now, perhaps, you’re settling in for a day of watching the NBA’s true season openers. What we’ve seen thus far, particularly from the Warriors, has been the Dungeness crab before the holiday ham to come, a tasty winter teaser for the main meal that’ll stretch through spring.
Seeing the Warriors squaring off against the rival Clip Joint in the marquee game of the day should serve as a reminder of the gifts Golden State’s already given Bay Area sports fans. It’s been a genuine joy to watch, with Draymond Green’s emergence as a nationally respected hardcourt Swiss army knife alone has been big-red-bow-worthy.
Likewise new coach Steve Kerr’s calm, congenial approach to taking what Mark Jackson helped Bob Myers build and making it better.
But the Dubs haven’t been the only generous squad on the scene this year. Think of all that Bay Area sports fan has been given this year.
From the Giants, of course, we got another ridiculously unpredictable, entertaining and uplifting season that ended with a parade down Market Street. Fitting that heart-and-soul fan favorite Hunter Pence put the team’s identity in such brilliant terms, calling the 2014 world champions a “shape-shifter” while noting, in an interview with ESPN.com, that players long forgotten by October, such as early-season slugger Brandon Hicks, had every bit as much to do with the team’s overall success as those who stepped up and into starring roles. As the leaves turned and began to fall.
Travis Ishikawa’s incredible story and crowning moment still conjure goosebumps, and from Madison Bumgarner, we got everything you have a humanly right to expect from a baseball player, his talent and otherworldly October performances nearly obscured by a humility you wish you could bottle and inject into every professional athlete alive.
From the Niners, we got the gift of perspective. Hopefully. For the Faithful, it’s been a challenging year from the outset, and Sunday or Monday likely brings the baffling end of the Set-Jaw Jim Era. But with a little time, the closing of this glorious chapter should allow for some reflection on just how far the franchise has come in four years.
The team was a national punch line, playing in a dump, five years ago. With a smart hire and improved health, there’s no reason to think the good times won’t finally start rolling in the new palace next fall. Things aren’t nearly as dire as they seem.
From the A’s? Hmmm. I guess we got another handful of throwback jerseys. Cespedes, Donaldson, Norris, Moss, Samardzija, Lester, etc. Remember that team?
And from the Raiders, we got hope. That might sound like a stretch, but if you’re not hoping they land Harbaugh to take over and build on what Derek Carr and Khalil Mack seem to have started, you’re not a real Bay Area sports fan. Harbaugh is incredible theater, as well as a hell of a coach, and we’re better here with him — no matter the color of sweatshirt being rocked with those khakis — than without.
Sports is the gift that keeps giving, really, so there’s plenty more where the aforementioned came from. We don’t know what, and we don’t know when, but we know it’s coming.
And like those precious little boys and girls who spent last night with that messy family-room scene dancing in their heads, we can’t wait.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).