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White plays, Manu signs, I take crappy pictures and the Spurs kick butt.

By Michael Erler on March 29, 2007.

Game 70 @ Golden State: Spurs 126, Warriors 89

I’m not usually prone to giddiness but that, ladies and germs was as close to a perfect game experience as I’ve had in quite some time. I won’t bore anyone with the details, but due to miscommunication and unforseen circumstances I ended up paying way too much for awful tickets and I couldn’t meet the Spursdynasty gang because I’m sick and my voice was completely scratchy and shot, like P.J.’s was during the Sprewell era.

The only way to salvage the whole affair would be to get to the arena extremely early and sneak down to floor level for warm ups. So that’s what me and my BFF Manolis did. Immediately I regretted not bringing my mom’s digital camera. Next time, definitely.

We got there 95 minutes before tip-off, so we were there even before the formal shootaround. These guys were actually working out with assistant coaches and stuff. I realize it’s a stupid thing to say, but the first thing you think when you’re ten feet away from NBA players is, “Whoa, these fuckers are huuuuuuge.”

We managed to convince an usher to let us hang around the court as close as possible by telling her that we were part of a French contingent in town to watch Tony and I would assume, to a letter extent, Mickael Pietrus. Basically she asked us if we were with the French group and we said, “Oui.”

Tony was out early, but was sitting at the Warriors bench with Pietrus and Elson and being interviewed by some guy. I didn’t pay attention too much to the Warriors half of the court but I can tell you that Andris Biedrins has no jumper whatsoever and that Baron Davis was wearing these goofy blue tights. I yelled, “Hey Baron, Olivia Newton-John wants her pants back!” but my throat hurt too much for anyone to hear. Manolis quickly shushed before I could ask if he was planning on getting “physical, let’s get physical” with Tony. Oddly, it turned out that he was.

As far as the Spurs go, the first guy I noticed running up and down the floor was Melvin Ely. Shortly after Jackie Butler and James White were doing the same. One thing I’ll say about Butler – the guy has obviously lost some serious weight. He looked quite lithe from what I could tell. I think the scraggly beard makes him look like more of a slob than he actually is. Dude is NOT fat.

After a couple trips up and down White quit running and started to work on his shooting with some assistant coach I couldn’t place. He was curling and taking jumpers from mainly the right side of the court. The other guys shooting were Fab and Beno, whom one would expect and Tim which floored me. Here’s our superduperstar, and he was working on his game at a time when half the guys in the league are just walking into the arena. I guess that’s why he’s so good. Also, he’s very tall.

I’m not sure how working on threes with Oberto and Chip Engulland helps his game though. For the record Engulland kicked both of the player’s asses.

When he was done shooting and going back toward the locker room I rushed toward the stairwell where all the other autograph hounds were, but I was too high and behind the crowd for him to get to me. He signed for two minutes and went inside.

Pretty much all the Spurs had gone back in by the time Manu came out. He was practicing his jumper in a very regimented, coordinated manner. He started at the left baseline and gradually worked all the way around to the right baseline. I would estimate that he made about 80% of them, which sounds great, but is nowhere near the 95+% that Nash is notorious for in his warm-ups. Pretty soon afterward Brent joined him and naturally competition spurred both of them to even a higher level of precision. Neither one hardly missed for five minutes although to be fair Brent was taking mostly threes and Manu was working on the pull-up mid range J.

I saw Gino sign for somebody on the sidelines on the otherside of the court and quickly sprinted around but by the time I did he was already walking down the court and toward the tunnel, only stopping briefly to share a quick word with crazy ass Stephen Jax. There was already a large crowd waiting for him at the tunnel by the time I circled back and made it over there.

I’m not proud of it, but I kind of cheated. Instead of walking up the stands and finding myself all the way up the tunnel and to the back like I was with Tim, this time I just squished myself to the very bottom before any usher could say anything and stuck my arm out with the only paper I had on me, the printout of my ticket. Luckily Manu noticed me right away and I was literally the last person he signed for before walking in. I think I said “thanks” but I don’t remember. The usher actually started to scold him for signing for someone who cut the line but I already left and went back toward Manolis by then.

The odd thing is that his signature is completely illegible. I mean I know he was in a hurry and he’s a lefty like me an’ all, but put it this way, he’s very lucky the whole basketball thing worked out because I’m not sure he’s literate. Shoeless Joe Jackson had a more authentic looking signature. I know Gino has his own blog and everything, but I’m not convinced some friend isn’t helping him out with the actual reading and writing elements of it. It’s like, I know the signature is real. He was a foot away from me when he signed it. But even looking at it I think it’s a fake. It looks like a scribble in blue marker that a two year old would make. The only part I can make out is the “20” he put at the end. Still, totally cool. Matthew showed me this website late Monday night of cards with his signature on them, and apparently mine wasn’t an anomaly. Manu Ginobili is such a God that he has his own freakin’ language. Hey, maybe he’s signing in Aramaic like Jesus.

Anyway, after I got Manu’s autograph I noticed that James White was warming up some more, and here’s another observation, from the guy who gave you “Whoa, those fuckers are huuuge”…

James White can jump really, really high. Oh my goodness, every single one of you has to find a way to watch this guy from floor level at least once in your lives, preferably in the next two or three years. The guy basically jumps straight up, thinks about what he’s going to do with the ball for 10 seconds, makes up his mind, slams it and comes back down. As long as he has half a brain and plays hard it will be virtually impossible for White to not carve at least a decent career for himself in the league. Believe it or not but athletic guys who have a nonstop motor are in short supply in the Association. I know it’s foolish to make any declarative statements based on 16 garbage minutes, but really, no matter what the roster looks like next year, I can see no reason for White to not have at least a Devin Brown-like role on the team in ’07-08. Hell Bruce will be another year older and I doubt that both Fin and Brent will be back. White would be a cheap solution for our miserly owner. A better option than signing Pietrus with the mid level exception at any rate, and this way we could save that dough for Scola.

When we finally got to our seats, way the fuck high in the 200 level, my uncle joined us and he brought his digital camera. As you will shortly discover, I really need this writing gig to work out because I have absolutely no career ahead of me as a photographer. Gimme a break though, it was my first time trying to shoot moving objects.

Manu getting a few shots in right before tip. For a guy who shoots like eight times a night, he sure practices a bunch.

Bruce and Schnozzo had to drag Tony back onto the court, Baron Davis was beating him up so badly.

By far the most talented people in Warriors uniforms.

Is this picture A) Manu driving to the basket B) An album cover for The Cure C) Proof that I should never buy a camera or D) All of the above?

Anyway, once the game started I quickly realized that White was suited up and as far as coaching moves go it made enough sense I suppose. The Warriors have a plethora of swingmen to throw at you after all. Still, a part of me didn’t want to see the guy play. I felt so guilty that I was gonna see him and that Matthew didn’t, especially since he spent a bunch of money for his tix and mine were paid for.

By the end of the first half I knew White’s debut was imminent. We had five guys, Tim, Manu, Tony, Bruce and Fin scoring at will. They couldn’t miss out there. Gino took 3 whole shots in the first 24 minutes and had 11 points. Tony, after struggling initially with Davis, started to get to the cup with ease. Entry passes to Duncan were shockingly easy. All that AND a couple of our crappier shooters were ironically decidedly uncrappy simultaneously. 73-54 at half and good night Aunt Sally.

I like Andris Biedrins a lot as a player, the kid is a good rebounder and shows good hands catching all manner of passes on the pick and roll, but I’m beginning to suspect that his dominance over Duncan in their first meeting of the year was just a case of Tim underestimating the Latvian. He hasn’t made that mistake since. Biedrins still had his moments offensively, especially since Davis and he can run a bread and butter play over and over again, but on defense Duncan just abused the kid. He’s a bit too skinny and still has a way to go. That being said, I’d love to have him as a Spur for the next decade and would trade him for Fabcisco Elberto in the blink of an eye.

The Spurs I think would’ve beaten anybody on this night, they were a juggernaut offensively, but Nellie certainly helped them along by playing ridiculous lineups. For a while in the 2nd quarter they had 6’8″ Matt Barnes in at center. Naturally Pop played along and went tinyball to match them. While I felt bad for my friend and my uncle for wasting good money on such a route, I can have no sympathy in my heart for a coach and a squad who can’t be bothered with defense. They have the talent to do it, but it’s just not being properly demanded of them. Those fans are being cheated in Oakland, that’s all there is to it.

Anyway, the 3rd quarter was more of the same except now the Warriors couldn’t throw it into the ocean. Tim and Frankie sealed off the rim and it was brick city from J-Rich and the gang on the perimeter. Manu had a fast break dunk off a nice set-up from Tony, probably his 3rd best slam of the season, but despite that momentary joy, the game had quickly become a laugher.

Enter James White.

White in action.

Like a coiled cobra, waiting to strike.

Brent: “Not bad meat, you know I used to jump like you once.” James: “Uh huh.”

Matthew’s recap sums up the James White Experience better than I ever could. Once you type “copious amounts of seminal fluid” there’s no turning back, you’ve officially reached the point of no return. Not only has this bit of prose turned Powell into bit of an internet celebrity overnight, but I believe White might hire him to be his agent any day now. Once the kid starts to get a big head, y’all know who to blame. I don’t even know if I’m referring to Matthew or White anymore. They have like a symbiotic relationship.

Call me crazy, I haven’t given up on that two seed just yet. After an understandably spotty 1st half defensively, (give ’em a break, they were up 19) they held the run and gun Dubs to 35 in the second half. Richardson and Harrington combined for 1 point on 13 shots. We had as many assists as they had made field goals. And White played and was pretty decent. Bully for the Spurs I say.

Your 3 Stars (we could have had like ten. Everyone was good except for Beno, who sucked goat ass.)

3. Manu Ginobili – 17 on 7 shots, and content to let everyone else do their thing. He’s basically on cruise control until they need him and intent on making it to the postseason without a limp.

2. Michael Finley – 9 of 12 for 20 points overall. He basically buried the Warriors in the 2nd period and ensured that White would be making his debut. All you need to know about Golden State’s defense is that Fin had at least three lay-ups. Surprisingly he was the only Spur not to come out for the pregame shootaround.

1. Tony Parker – 20 and 9 in less than 30 minutes. Not only was he efficient as hell scoring, thanks to 10 FTA, but his decision making on the fast break was excellent. I was stunned that he gave it up on every 2-on-1 and the pass was always delivered in the perfect spot as well. He also managed to tick off yet another opposing prima donna point guard. I think the criticism of him being selfish with White on the floor is unjustified. First of all the kid is a rookie and doesn’t deserve squat. Secondly, Tony was trying to make sure that Tim and Manu could take the rest of the game off and that the entire fourth quarter would be extensive garbage time. Outside of maybe the first five minutes Tony was superb.

Record: 50-20 Streak: W-4
Up Next: Vs. New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets

Back home we go for another date with the gritty, gutty Nooch. I don’t know who’s healthy for them and I don’t care. They’ve been banged up all year and can’t ever seem to get all their guys on the court at once. We’ve blown these guys out a couple times already so we’re due for a flat home performance and a close game.
(Yeah, I cheated on this part, sue me.)

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  1. Dingo March 30, 2007

    Dude, great post! In fact, this is by far the best thing you’ve written for this site or that other one.

    I have just a minor suggestion — lay off the insults.

    You suggested that Manu was illiterate because of his illegible autograph. Are you kidding me? Have you never had a doctor write you a prescription before?! There is absolutely no correlation between someone’s signature and their literacy. None. Surely you jest, but come on now, there is a difference between being funny and mean-spirited.

    Then you had to go and accuse the Spurs ownership of being “miserly,” which is patently false. Two thirds of the teams in the league spend less than the Spurs on their payroll. No way that SA qualifies for “miserly.”

    And please, please lay off Beno already. The guy may be looking for work this summer.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that “fans in Oakland are being cheated.” I was thinking we might start a foundation to introduce poor, underserved Oakland children to what it means to have a winning NBA franchise by flying them to San Antonio, or Phoenix, or even Utah. Nellie has the talent, but just isn’t using it efficiently.

    Great photos! Seriously, thanks for posting them.


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