Outlaw's Outtakes

5-13-19 - Warriors - Ed Jay
Steph Curry -- responsible for three NBA Championship trophies -- and perhaps a fourth? 
Photo by Ed Jay.

The Nullifier Grounds the Rockets
-- and the critics
by Pete Elman

It was like something out of Hollywood. In an excruciatingly close, epic contest the score
was 97-97 with exactly five minutes remaining. Neither team had scored in the previous three minutes. It was anyone's game But only one team was facing elimination; the home team, a team that has had a hard time closing the deal. But it wasn't anyone  who rose like a phoenix from the ashes, proud and determined, who put his beloved teammates on his back and, in one of the most improbable, dramatic and clutch performances ever in the long storied history of this proud franchise, led the Warriors to one of their greatest victories. It was number 30.

Consider the circumstances:
1) The best player in the world who has been playing arguably the best ball of his career, was watching the game back in the East Bay, exhorting his teammates from the couch, probably screaming at every remarkable twist and turn. Meanwhile, the two-time MVP, the baby-faced assassin, was mired in perhaps the longest slump of his amazing career, missing not just three-pointers, but, over the course of this hard-fought series, 17 layups And to compound things, he was in foul trouble every game, his body language unrecognizable, his energy level inexplicably low. And he was scoreless at halftime...

2) Then the backdrop: Two teams that do not like each other, playing for the right to go to the conference finals, each one believing that  this series was really the finals. The Rockets were hungry for payback after last year's epic meltdown, which they blamed on Chris Paul's hamstring, while the national media--to their discredit--conveniently overlooked the fact that Andre Iguodala missed the last four games of that series. The Warriors, after playing, like Steve Kerr so eloquently put it, like "f-ing giants" to win game 5 Wednesday after Kevin Durant injured his calf, were written off by the NBA  cognoscenti as as having no chance. Really? Write off the champs at your own peril.

3) And then the game itself: A thing of beauty, a collective feat of talent, teamwork, inspiration, pride, and most of all, the intangible that proved to be the difference between the two 
teams--heart. Steve Kerr  showed the world why he is one of the great coaches in the game. He made a bold decision to play everyone, exhorting them to play hard and rolled the dice, daring the Rockets to match his squad's intensity. His bench  responded, giving him 33 points and tremendous energy.

Klay Thompson  kept the team in the game the first half and made two huge plays down the stretch, tying up Eric Gordon for a jump ball and draining the dagger three with 36 seconds left to give the Dubs a 110-104 lead. The consummate pro Shaun Livingston,  33, drafted out of high school in 2004, who came back from a gruesome leg injury and wandered through the NBA wilderness for 10 years and eight teams, showed the world why he is not done, not yet. Andre Iguodala,  35,  extracted revenge on all the naysayers, shutting them up with a 38-minute effort that featured five threes, five steals, and all-world defense. Anybody who has observed his career knows this; the man has a ton of pride. And the emotional leader, the indomitable Draymond Green,  capped off a brilliant series with determined, gritty, swarming defense and a near triple-double.

But in the end, as it so often does, came down to Steph Curry,  once again matched up with his North Carolina mentor Chris Paul, a surefire first-ballot Hall of Fame player but with no finals appearances to show for 14 years in the league. The night before, Paul had told Curry, who had booked the court to practice for an hour, to scram because he had to have the court. Maybe not such a good idea. After last night's game, Curry yelled, "Kick me off the court again, boy!" just outside the Warriors' locker room. Now Chris has the court to himself--all summer.

After his worst half ever, Steph administered the coup de grace to Paul, James Harden, Mike D'Antoni, Darryl Morey and the city of Houston, delivered in the form of a career-best 33-point second half outburst , one for the ages. With a dislocated finger that got hit in the middle of his historic run, he led his embattled team to one of the all-time playoff victories; it may be enough to fuel their run through hopefully two more series. The Promised Land of a three-peat awaits.

Like many longtime Warrior fans, I suffered through 40 years in the wilderness. I know how special this time is, and how lucky we are. Let us appreciate this team, and their leader--
the Nullifier.

Pete Elman
May 11, 2019

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From 2000-2005 I wrote a column for the late great Oakland Athletics Fan Coalition (OAFC) entitled  Elman Swings,
a play on the fact that I'm a musician. Some of you may remember the OAFC, an East Bay organization that at its peak had several thousand members devoted to keeping the A's in Oakland and guess what? They've succeeded. Perhaps one or two of you might remember my articles (more like rants) about baseball and society. So when the Ultimate Sports Guide asked me to compose regular screeds called Outlaw's Outtakes, how could I say "No?" ('Outlaw' is their nickname for me.) -- Pete Elman

3-6-17 - Pops

Michael King (left), with an associate from USF (center), and Karla Granadino-King, are pictured at the Olympic Club in San Francisco,  proudly sharing with the world their  Pops Premium Rumpopo. A King family secret, Pops Premium Rumpopo is a  delicious rum cream liqueur recipe brewed in the family tradition.  The award winning recipe is a Belizean family favorite and now available at all Total Wine & More stores in California and Bay Area retailers.
For more information, visit

Pops - Original
Pops Back Label