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Soup of This Day #151: There Was A Turtle By The Name Of Bert

March 15, 2012

Proposed Bay Area Bridge
Bridges don’t just have a role in professional sport. They carry traffic too – Image: Mike Cline, 1913. Mike Cline is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Once upon a time I was known as the Isiah Thomas of my junior basketball league.

Even in my most blinkered moments I kind of realised that this was meant to be ironic. I was a clumsy white kid of average height, slight build and with a whole lot less talent than the Detroit Pistons legend. It’s said that white guys can’t jump and if you compare Isiah Thomas to me then there’s some evidence to back that up – Thomas had a decent leap on him while I had the opposite.

I had an awesome crouch.

This meant that when I got the ball in the paint I’d often duck and cover, attempting to weave my way around the kneecaps of kids much taller than me. This tactic worked for me about as well as it would have if there had been a A-Bomb drop in the 50s and people had followed those educational films. On the flipside several opposition players who were stupidly tall got to block my layups with their stomachs, which must have at least confused them.

My crouch aside, my key strength on court was that I annoyed people. I was persistent and I’d be there in my designated opponents face, or kneecaps, for the whole game. I didn’t trashtalk or cheat – There was no stepping on shoelaces or sly knocks to the back of knees. Nope, I just relentlessly hung in there, annoying guys with my sheer presence. I’d hack them off with my inane attempts to block the ball and my ability to get a finger on the ball just enough to disturb their picture-perfect drive through the lane. Sure, they’d still score but somehow I’d make it look inelegant, like they’d waded through a swamp in a tuxedo.

I even managed this on the bus after the game.

Still, 1 time I was Isiah Thomas incarnate and thereafter the name stuck. So for a time there I sort of followed the Pistons. And the fit was good. They weren’t showy, those Pistons – Instead they were a tough, in-your-face-gonna-grind-you-into-dust-upside-your-mama’s-head kind of team. Which was nice but ultimately about as fun as spilling diesel on your shoes.

So now I have no historic NBA team affiliation. I like basketball but mostly I prefer the college game. Every now and then though I get drawn back in, tempted to give the NBA another go. This is 1 of those times and I’m now searching for a team to casually hang on to.

I could and maybe should side with the Miami Heat. This would be a neat fit as they have LeBron James, owner of a slice of Liverpool FC.

The problem with King James though is that he seems a little high maintenance. To be fair most monarchs are but this 1 isn’t actually a real king so I’m not seeing how this is justified. He did a televised special about which team he was choosing to play for, simply called ‘The Decision’. In this 1-hour special he screwed over his home state of Ohio and fled to Miami for the chance ‘to win and to win for multiple years’.

Hard to see how that went down badly in Cleveland.

LeBron James and his cashed up decision team are too much. I’ve got a sporting roster that has too much too much already. The Red Sox alone do my head in without me adding King James and the Heat to the drama.

So I need a team that fades into quiet obscurity. A team that crouches instead of leaping. A team that I will hardly ever read about because, well let me be blunt, I’m hardly going to want to read about them.

Hello Golden State Warriors.

The Bay Area team aren’t so much as flying under the radar as they are creeping under it disguised as a rhododendron bush. They’ve not troubled the trophy engravers for a while and down here in sleepy Western Australia (Coincidentally known as the Golden West) I don’t much hear about them, even when they add an oft-injured Australian to their roster. I checked my local sports store the other day and they had a fair old swathe of NBA gear but nothing remotely Golden State-ish. I even had to look the Warriors up a month or so ago just to make sure they were still part of the NBA.

They are and they aren’t doing particularly well at it this term.

It’s not that they’re bad though – This season they sit at 18 and 22 – which is a pass mark for mediocrity. Much better than the 10 and 32 New Orleans, the 9 and 32 Washington and the awful 6 and 34 Charlotte.

So Golden State clearly isn’t the worst. They’re just as clearly not the best – They’re comfortably outside of the playoff places, far enough away that there’s no buzz around them to sneak in yet distant enough from the basement that wholesale sackings make no sense.

Yep, Golden State are wonderfully anonymous.

Even their uniform is right – None of that snarling, cartoonish super-animal @#$% for the Warriors – Nope, they have a bridge on their jerseys. An honest-to-god bridge. And not a freaky, crazy bridge like, say, the Tacoma Narrows. No, they have the silhouette of the under-construction eastern span of the Bay Bridge that will proudly stand as a masterpiece of stable engineering and self-anchored suspension.

Like a bridge over troubled waters.

That’s not even passive aggressive – It’s a freaking bridge for crying out loud. It was designed by nerdy engineers so that traffic could get from 1 side of the bay to the other in perfect safety.

You might be thinking then that this team has been so anonymous that they have never won anything. That’s a losing streak you’ll say. Maybe even a curse. Curses are notable in sport, you’ll nod knowingly. Maybe the Oakland Arena, the NBA’s current oldest venue, was built on a pet cemetery and the tortured soul of Binky the Labradoodle cast a tormented curse on any basketball team unlucky enough to play there – A curse that would see them stuck in an epic fail, like the Washington Generals against the Globetrotters.

Yeah, no.

Golden State won national titles in 1947 (When they were the Philadelphia Warriors and the NBA was the BAA), 1956 (as the Philadelphia Warriors in the NBA) and then again in 1975 (as the Golden State Warriors in the NBA). They have 3 NBA/BAA Championships, which is more than 23 of the 30 current NBA teams can show for their efforts. That’s the same number of championships as Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that replaced the Warriors in Philly. Golden State have won just enough and just long enough ago that they don’t even have a memorable losing record. Clearly there is no curse.

I can’t completely rule out the pet cemetery thing though.

Nonetheless, I’m starting to like Golden State. I really am and here’s another reason for me to get on board: They have the same name as the Western Australian cricket team that choked their way out of the 2011/2012 Sheffield Shield competition. Golden State could help me to disassociate the Warrior’s name from cricketing failure and re-instate it as a name that stands for obscurity.

Which is brilliant. Admittedly in the same way that a lump of milky quartz is brilliant but hey, quartz is better looking than plain old rock and nobody is really gonna be set to try and steal a lump of quartz off of you.

All of this might give you the impression that I’m mocking the Warriors, disrespecting a professional sporting team that has far exceeded my childhood exploits on the court. I don’t mean to. This team is a storied team and 1 that has survived in the world’s toughest basketball league for 66 or so years. Even if the Warriors had won no championships across that time they would still have 1 event in their history to set them apart:

March 2, 1962 in Hershey Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Warriors were playing a ‘home’ game against the New York Knicks. The Warriors had a 7’1″ centre by the name of Wilt Chamberlain. The Philly native was a genuine star – He already held the NBA individual scoring record with a mammoth 78 point effort in a game from earlier that season.

On this night in the half-full Hershey Sports Arena, nobody much cared about the result – It was a game played close to the end of the season and Chamberlain himself had been out partying the night before and so was tired and hung-over.

Somehow he defied all of that though and double, triple and even quadruple-teaming to post an individual score that seems like it’s so far away from the everyday that it is in another universe.

Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single 48 minute NBA game.

Given that my personal best was 7 Beverley Junior Basketball Association points that means that Wilt’s 100 NBA points was… carry the 3… roughly a gazillion times more impressive.

See, there’s sometimes gold hidden in quartz and so based on Wilt Chamberlain’s heroics from just over 50 years ago I’m tagging along with the Golden State Warriors.

Actually, now that I look at it, they have won 3 of their past 4 – Maybe the playoffs aren’t out of the question…

Bugger.

There Was A Turtle By The Name Of Bert

4 Comments
  1. Well…first off if you wanted to go to the “shallow end” of the pool the Warriors were a fine selection. Especially because they just committed to tanking their season for a high draft pick and sending away probably their most popular player. The timing is perfect. I do like their team logo and colors and even have a T-shirt with their prior logo upon it. A tip of the hat to tipping the hat towards Wilt’s achievement. We in Philly recently honored that by giving away parts of the court that he played that game upon…small sections were given out to ticketbuyers for a recent Sixers game. I do recall the Warriors’ 1975 achievement…that was back in the day where the NBA begged a television network to show their games in prime time. My how times have changed…

    • Yep, that trade was a blip in my reasoning. Monta Ellis was a plus for mine, a genuine leader, and Andrew Bogut is an injury-prone negative. Are they deliberately tanking? Maybe – Bogut clearly won’t contribute this season and the argument that he fits well into a Monta Ellis-less Warriors team that pins a lot on Curry makes no sense in that context. If they are aiming to ensure that 1st round pick then I’ll be revisiting my choice – It’s a low move.

      It’s easy to tip the hat to Wilt Chamberlain – I wasn’t around to see him play but everything I’ve read and the footage I’ve seen marks him as a genuine superstar. Nowadays everyone is marketed as that from the get-go – Linsanity takes but a moment, Tebow-mania a little longer. If there had been social media back in the day Wilt would have blown them all off the back page.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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