Outlaw's Outtakes

1-7-19 - Warriors - Rich Yee
The Nullifier steals...
Photo by Rich Yee

1-7-19 - Warriors _ Rich Yee
The Nullifier breaks ankles... Photo by Rich Yee

1-7-19 - Warriors - Rich Yee
The Nullifier breaks your heart... Photo by Rich Yee

The Ledge,
by Outlaw

Get the ball to Steph.

As the fourth quarter began I saw the ledge come into sight, and my heart stopped. The narrow trail that led to that terrible place, that awful limbo zone between victory and defeat, the end of the line, the final frontier of fan fear, was uncharacteristically well-lit, illuminated by an astounding 41 three-pointers, an NBA record set by two Northern California teams that were going at it hard on Saturday night.

As I approached that dangerous spot, I snuck a peek over the edge, and saw the ghost of the
40-year abyss that I never want to see again, the eighth circle of basketball hell that I thought was behind me. On the heels of the Houston home court overtime debacle, a sickening loss of the first magnitude, if this one in Sacramento slipped away, well, I might have time to break out the strait jacket.

There are moments in a long season when one lone play can have an impact so profound, that if the season does not end with a parade, one can harken back to that play. That moment took place Thursday night. Lost in the ignominy of blowing a 20-point lead and the miraculous winning fade-away three by James Harden was perhaps Kevin Durant's worst sequence as a Golden State Warrior.

With 1:10 left in regulation and his team up by six, 119-113, KD, with 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock, inexplicably launched a 28-footer and missed badly. Compounding this egregious mistake, Durant jogged while Clint Capela hustled down court to receive a pass, only to get fouled by Durant and convert the free throw. What should have been a lock was now a game again, and Harden took advantage with his first super-clutch three, sending it into overtime. We know the rest. It was a bad feeling, and it would take a stirring win--preferably in the next game--to make that sickening feeling go away. I must have replayed that ending ten times in my head in the middle of the night.

Saturday night was heart-stopping. After an incredible offensive display by the veteran Warriors and the young Kings, I noticed that the vaunted Golden State lockdown defense, conspicuously in absentia the first three quarters, had somehow snuck back into the arena, along with another crafty character, one who is very familiar to Warrior fans--the Nullifier.

It took all 20 of his four th  period points to get the job done: step-back threes, wide-open threes, contested threes, circus drives, crazy drives, and-ones, and free throws. And in the end he single-handedly rescued me from the ledge. It's been the same now for five years. When the team needs him, he steps up, gets that steely look in his soft eyes, and makes up his mind he will not let his team lose.

The Kings were making everything until the final period, when they only scored 20, thanks to a collective defensive effort by the champs. Sure, Dray, Klay and Andre were key. Buddy Hield, who had been unconscious for three periods, took one shot that final quarter, with 20 seconds left--and it was blocked. But a closer look at the tape reveals that the Dubs' best defender down the stretch was the shortest Warrior on the floor.

Because when things are looking bleak, desperate and downright scary, and I find myself gripping big-time, asking if  this is the end of  the dynasty,  there is only one guy that can talk me off that ledge--number 30, the baby-faced assassin, he of the ten three-pointers and 42 points-- the Nullifier Appreciate his greatness, for it will never come again. By the way, he's a pretty cool guy; flashy but modest; heroic but humble; and raised right by Dell and Sonia. And he's our guy.

Get the ball to Steph.

*          *          *

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 for this weekly blast 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