Citizenry take note: If he’s not going to play by the rules and traditions—written or unwritten—you don’t have to either.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

On the eve of the tip off of the 2017 N.B.A. Finals, news broke that LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized.

An unknown vandal spelled out the only two-syllable word he likely knew, the N–word, onto James’ gate, It was painted over that same day after police were informed. James has owned the home since 2015 but does not spend much time there, especially during the regular season. LAPD detectives still have no leads.

Two things struck me about this:

  1. This never would’ve happened during the Obama administration. (Why? Because it didn’t.)
  2. We can expect to see more of this during the Trump administration. (Why? Because it happens every day now except mostly to people who don’t have the same platform as LeBron James.)

Either way, it is sickening.

And there is one man and his supporters to blame.

I don’t need to go down the Trump-voters-as-racist white-sheeted rabbit hole. It’s been explored often and better by folks who’ve spent a lifetime exploring and exposing race and race relations in this country.

Here’s what I do know about the Trump voter and the strident Trump supporter of today, just five months into his regime: You may not consider yourself a racist. Your community may not identify you as one. Chances are you have a job, make decent money, drive carpool, coach and enjoy a couple too many Goose Islands or whatever fake microbrew you inhale along with a couple dozen wings on the weekends …and that’s fine, you’re an American. But somewhere in you, just beneath the surface, you’re racist as fuck. Why? Because you condone it. You look the other way. You choose to ignore it when it’s staring back at you head on.

And that’s unacceptable. Your choice in candidate was unacceptable. And this administration, verily, is unacceptable.

***

The Warriors beat LeBron James’s Cavs in a well-fought and sometimes stunning N.B.A. Finals. For their effort Golden State went 16-1 this playoffs. Nearly perfect. By the evening of Game 3 most of the talking heads were comparing them to the ‘97 Bulls or the Showtime Lakers or the ‘85 or ‘65 Celtics. There is no argument. The Warriors beat all these teams. Hell, so do the Cavs. For good measure so does this year’s version of the Spurs (if healthy), Thunder and Rockets.

Why? As good as Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell and co. were, LeBron, Irving, Love, Curry, KD, Green, Harden, Westbrook, Leonard—are better, faster, stronger. They play the game at a different speed with a different mindset. Just look at the sheer number of times KD went from guarding down low to playing point guard the next possession on offense in these Finals. The game changes, players through technology, nutrition, evolution, being coached up at an earlier age, get better, not worse. So yes, for now, the Golden State Warriors are the greatest team of all time and LeBron James the greatest player of all time.

***

There will be a parade in Oakland.

And Oakland residents should celebrate it, mightily. They deserve one.

There is so very little to squawk about if you’re from The Town these days. The Warriors are leaving for the rarefied shores of a town on the verge of blowing through all its VC money across the Bay.

Frat dick harassment command central Uber is attempting to further gentrify Oakland’s downtown with bro coders in Chubbies running around pretending they’re Zac Efron. Fucking the creative class, which once made the Bay Area so vibrant, so desirable and (at one time, not now) an incubator for innovation, has been summarily pushed to the fringes, left to live in squalor and die in warehouse fires.

Plus, the specter of Trump that hangs over all of us especially informs a city whose population speaks 112 different languages, whose African American Community is the largest concentration in the Bay Area (35,000) and whose mixed neighborhoods are turning eggshell with the most profound displacement phenomenon in the country. Between July 2011 and July 2016 the median price of a home nearly doubled to $626,000, and median rents went up by $1,100 during that time.

So celebrate this week they will, but it will also feel like the celebration of the end of something.

Smarmy owner and self-described seer-of-the-future Joe Lacob, who is a partner at VC juggernaut Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (think early-to-present-day Silicon Valley: Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Amazon, Compaq, Netscape, EA, Sun Microsystems, Nest, Snap and Twitter—all the things that were supposed to make life easier and better that have simply hastened our extinction and turned everything into a clusterfuck of trolls), has such an abundance of hubris because he hasn’t been proven wrong much in his 30-year career. And he wasn’t proven wrong when he bought the moribund Warriors off Chris Cohan in 2010 for a bargain basement $450 million. The Warriors were at that point the safe spot on the N.B.A. schedule during a West Coast swing, a go-out-the-night-before team, who had a promising, but injury-prone and “fragile” rookie point guard in Stephen Curry and not much else.

Fast forward seven years, three consecutive visits to the Finals and two championships later and the team is set to move into its new SF waterfront arena in 2019. They are now valued at $2.6 billion. Not a bad seven-year turnaround.

But the question remains, is any of this real?

***

The Warriors will have many things to decide this off-season.

Can they keep Andre Iguodala? The 2015 N.B.A. Finals MVP came off the bench Monday night to spark the Warriors with his 20 points, all of which came in the form of either a timely three or a punctuation dunk that got the crowd at Oracle Arena lit.

If there was a such thing as a Game 5 MVP, Iggy was it. He’s a free agent.

The Warriors’ latest addition, Finals’ MVP Kevin Durant, also is able to opt out of his contract after a season in Oakland, though it’s likely he’s shopping for a home with a bigger trophy case this week instead of for a new team. Durant’s camp has hinted he may restructure to take less than the league max to help teammate Steph Curry, a free-agent, ink a deal that’s in the $200-million+ range. Yes, Curry’s new contract will be approximately half the franchise’s value when he joined it.

Beyond Iguodala, the supporting cast of Shaun Livingston, JaVale McGee, David West, Ian Clark and Zaza Pachulia are all hitting the market. Of those, expect the Warriors to key in on Livingston, McGee and West—though all three for their contributions at Golden State this season could command a premium.

But it’s not all lawyers and signatures for this franchise before summer league fires up. It’s about the dreaded White House Visit.

Curry, a known friend and golf partner of Barack Obama, hasn’t been shy about expressing his feelings about Trump as president. It’s as if he was one of the first in the celebrity/athlete stratosphere to call it like it is: You can put the label of president in front of Donald Trump, but it’s still the same lying, cheating, race-baiting, ignorant, petulant rich kid asshole reality TV host from Queens.

Curry, who rocks Under Armours, found himself in a bit of a tight spot this fall when his shoe sponsor’s CEO Kevin Plank, in an interview with CNBC, said President Donald Trump is an “asset” to the country.

“I agree with that description,” Curry said, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset.

…It may have been Curry’s best creation of space and dead-on shot of the season.

Steve Kerr, along with Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich, is one of the more vocal head coaches—in any league—against the Trump regime. The normally soft-spoken Kerr decided one post game to let fly over the then president-elect. It’s well worth the watch in its entirety (below) but here’s the gist when he noted it was difficult to face his wife, his daughter and his Warriors squad the morning after election day.

“I don’t know what else to say. Just the whole process has left all of us feeling kind of disgusted and disappointed. I thought we were better than this. I thought The Jerry Springer Show was The Jerry Springer Show. Watching the last debate, Trump would make a crack at Clinton and you could hear the fans, the stands, ‘Ooooohhhh,’ like ‘Ohhh, no he didn’t,’ ‘Yooo, yeah he did.’ This is a presidential election. It’s not The Jerry Springer Show.”

In an embarrassing act of forcing indentured servant undergrads to show fealty, reigning NCAA football champs the Clemson Tigers visited the White House Monday. On the South Lawn, Trump fucked up a couple names and stumbled over a few jokes then held up a jersey with his name on it next to none other than Jesus’s 13th Apostle himself Dabo Swinney.

…But the Warriors are professionals, they’re outspoken and they’re very much, as representatives of Oakland, the West Coast and the racial and community blends of the real America, not Trump’s America, have nothing to gain by climbing aboard Trump’s Crazy Train.

The Cubs rushed their White House Visit while Obama was still in office.

The Warriors didn’t have that option, so looks like the first thing they did Tuesday, was do the right thing.

Unanimously, they declined:

…Until this regime is complete, every other winning franchise to follow should say, “Same.”

Why? Because fuck this fake White House. Fuck this tampered-with election and its tainted results. Fuck trying to make it normal, to go through the normal motions—when it’s anything but. The man in charge is inspiring others to go spray paint the N-word on LeBron James’s home and you want the N.B.A. champs to go kiss the ring of the Burnt Orange Lord himself?

Fuck no.

Should the Warriors still want to meet up with a president, why not make it Obama again? I’m sure he’s got an opening between his kite surfing and Michelin Star restaurant tour to squeeze them in. Plus, he knows a lot more about basketball …and can remember names.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Goner Party and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

 

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