About Game 4 of Warriors-Los Angeles Clippers: Wasted opportunity on every front, save for the W for the Dubs.
Yes, this is about Donald Sterling, and yes, it's a take informed and colored by hindsight. This column runs on Thursdays, people, and if my decided-upon topic happens to have popped off the previous weekend, so be it. The loss of “timely” is accepted if not fully embraced.
In this case, though, having missed the chance to offer said take in the immediate aftermath actually works out quite well. Mainly because I was probably too pissed to present any cogent thoughts in the immediate aftermath.
A more infuriating, exasperating, you've-gotta-be-kidding-me story I've never seen in my 23 years in sports media. Twenty-three years. That's a generation by many standards. So by that standard, this was the most disgusting development in the sports world of a generation, which makes it a massive part of history.
Historic idiocy deserves an immediate, emphatic, definitive and proportionately historic response, don't you think?
Didn't happen. The immediate response, while still inside the all-important, 24-hour news cycle, was stunningly tepid, ineffectual and, truth be boiled, selfish: shooting jerseys turned inside-out, black socks and a little black athletic tape here and there. Oh, and a predictably crappy ballgame (objectively
Now, before you start scrolling down to the comment section, let's clarify: What new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did Tuesday was, in every way, emphatic, definitive and historic, an appropriate and well-constructed response to the evil foisted upon us all. And we can't really hold the lack of relative immediacy against the NBA as an entity, because we live in a litigious world that requires an insane amount of due diligence before such dramatic action can be taken.
We can, however, blame the Clippers and Warriors — and probably the rest of the teams who played a game Sunday — for not immediately seizing the opportunity to make a statement that would reverberate for far longer than 23 years.
Wait, you might be thinking as a Warriors fan. What did the Dubs do wrong? Same thing the Clippers and every other team did that day. They took the floor.
In fact, the Warriors blew an even bigger opportunity than the poor Clippers, who were going to lose that game regardless.
Yes, the Warriors made the shots, got the stops, pulled the boards that gave them the win Sunday. But they could have played half as well and won that game. The Clippers were, quite understandably, emotionally spent, mentally frayed.
Which is exactly why the Warriors should have stepped in, offered a clarity not possibly available to the Clippers at the time, and said, “Can't do it today, fellas. We're all in this together, every single player in this league, and without solidarity we've got nothing. So we're not playing today. Join us. This has to be done.”
And please, save your warm applesauce of an argument that not playing would have punished the players for Sterling's transgression. Don't give me, “They've worked all their lives to play for a championship. Why should the Warriors, much less the Clips, risk a forfeit that could derail that dream?”
Because some things are infinitely bigger than a championship. This was absolutely one of them. And not just because the Warriors would have come away from it forever linked with legends such as Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Muhammad Ali.
No, it was simply about answering big with bigger.
Sure, the punishment is now commensurate with the crime. But that's all it is: a punishment. The statement never really happened, and that's more than sort of sad.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).