Thoughts on Bob Fitzgerald: Warriors 104 Timberwolves 94

The Warriors got a win! Normally, I would be more than happy to write up a sighting report of this rara avis, but for some reason tonight I could barely concentrate on the game. I was distracted, my mind kept going in and out of focus, like Stephen Curry’s mind after 11 minutes on the bench. I’m not sure I can blame Bob Fitzgerald entirely for this, although his vocal stylings certainly contributed mightily to my state of mind (more on this later). It could be that I’m punch drunk, having absorbed so many Keith Smart left hooks to the mid-section, and right hooks to the ear. (Smart coaches like Joe Frazier fought.) Or it could simply have been that I was under the influence of several controlled substances, to wit: Pho Tai Gau, with clear noodles; Peet’s Sumatra, room for cream; and a liberal application of Lagavulin, straight no chaser.

For whatever reason, tonight’s game was for me, as Clyde the Glide might put it, less an occasion for observation and fulmination, than it was for cogitation and rumination. And so, without further preamble, and in no discernible order, here are some


Keith Smart: You got the win with a crushingly superior roster. Congratulations! Sorry, that’s all I have for you right now.

Monta Ellis: 10 assists, 3 turnovers. Not a point guard?

Newton’s Fourth Law of Motion: When a driving Monta Ellis collides with a standing Luke Ridnour, it is a block.

Commentary: Luke Ridnours are physically incapable of drawing charges on Monta Ellises. This law is immutable.

The Monta Rules: No star in the history of the NBA has ever gotten less respect from the refs than Monta Ellis. Not one.

Nelson’s Law of Three Point Shooting: If you are a 40% shooter from three, you should never stop shooting threes. Never, no matter what your Venture Capitalist cum GM thinks, no matter what your rookie coach thinks, and no matter what Bob Fitzgerald is screaming into the mike (more on this later).  40% from three is ungodly. It is indefensible, and it is unbeatable. There is no human way to keep pace with it.

There are only three exceptions to this law that I can think of. If you’ve missed two or three in a row, you should probably follow Nelson’s First Corollary and get yourself a layup. But after making that layup, get your ass back out to the three point line.

The other two exceptions are when there is 1 second left on the clock and:

  • you need 1 point to win; or
  • you are at home, and you need 2 points to tie.

The Warriors have not one, but two 40% shooters from three in their starting lineup. Should the three point shot be a staple of their offense?

Draw your own conclusions, and send them off in a prepaid stamped envelope to Kirk Lacob, Director of Basketball Operations, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. That’s where they’re likely to do the most good.

Stephen Curry: With his current struggles with foul trouble and turnovers, Curry reminds me of a precocious child genius. You know, the kid whose IQ is so high, and life experience is so low, that he corrects his teacher in class, tries to impress the school bully with his vocabulary, and sets his parents’ piano on fire while inventing a new process for manufacturing gunpowder (sorry, mom…). It’s a socialization process, that requires a special indulgence from mentors.

Note to teachers: Try to resist the temptation to give your precocious child genius a timeout in the fourth quarter of final exams.

Kevin Love: I actually had several thoughts about Kevin Love tonight, while pondering the two essential questions posed by his existence.

1) Why is Kevin Love generating such ridiculous rebounding numbers? My answers:

  • See Rodman, Dennis.
  • Since he can’t leave the ground, he never goes for the block. This leaves him in position for the rebound, in the unlikely circumstance that his man’s shot doesn’t go in.
  • Since he never goes for the block, he never goes for the pumpfake. Not even the second pumpfake.
  • If he can’t actually catch the rebound he bats it off the glass. Even if this bat comes nowhere near the rim, it gets him a rebound from the Minnesota scorers. (See 4:25 4th Q). It’s kind of like what Moses Malone used to do, but then Malone would snatch that batted ball off the glass and throw it down. Love is more likely to just bat it off the glass again.
2) Why is Kevin Love a losing basketball player, when he generates such ridiculous stats?
  • He cannot move his feet on defense.
  • He never goes for the block.
  • He cannot run the court fast enough to get in position to fail at 1 and 2, above.
  • He cannot finish inside, except when guarded by Brandan Wright.
  • He needs to play with a dominant defender on the opposite wing, but plays with Michael Beasley instead. This actually might be reason number one.

Snobbish Thought for the Night: Would you rather live in a area with a Target Center, or an area with an Oracle Arena?

That Wolf Howl: Is that the ghosts of Rubio and Flynn?

Free Darko: Darko Milicic is drawing double teams! Is this the end times?

Actually, I give Keith Smart credit for this move. The T-Wolves shooters couldn’t hit the wall of a bar with a dart.

DGadz: DGadz is a highly serviceable backup center. His evil twin, EGadz, is a blood-sucking, soul-crushing, TV-melting, team-destroying power forward. Keith Smart played DGadz tonight, and left EGadz on the bench.

Thank you, Coach David Lee.

New Project for Kirk Lacob, Director of Basketball Operations: Last night, the Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 44-33, but lost 116-111. Tonight, the Warriors were outrebounded by the TWolves 55-32, but won 104-94. How do you account for this puzzling datapoint?

When you’ve reached a conclusion, please give it to your assistant Larry Riley to send on to Keith Smart.

Oh, and Keith Smart’s family would appreciate it if you could get to this ASAP. Thanks!

Bob Fitzgerald: As you can probably tell, I am perilously close to the deep end. And Bob Fitzgerald is perilously close to giving me that last, fatal push.

I’ve reached my breaking point with Bob. I literally can’t take it anymore. And so, for the sake of my mental health, I’ve decided to write him a letter, via this blog. It’s a cry from the darkened living room. A plea for mercy from a desperate listener.

Dear Bob,

I don’t know if you will read this. Some people seem to think you will. In fact, a lot of people seem to think you got your talking points from me last year. Yes, I know Adam Lauridsen and his bellowing herd are batshit crazy, but just on the off-chance you do wander over here occasionally, I’m writing you this letter.

And if you do read this, please don’t take it personally. I know you’re actually a better broadcaster than most. I know that we are incredibly lucky not to be Kings fans, and have to listen to those guys. I just think you could be a lot better. And I’d like to do what I can to help, by giving you my notes:

1) Please don’t attempt to educate us, or astound us with your knowledge. That is not your job. That is the job of your color man, who actually played in the NBA.

I am not interested in your knowledge, or what you think is your knowledge. I am interested in the knowledge of the great Jim Barnett, who is so knowledgeable that he knows he doesn’t always have to share his knowledge.

2) Please don’t nag your team in a whiny voice. That is not your job. That is the job of your color man, should he choose to go that route.

Let me put this another way, in terms you might understand. If Marv Albert suddenly turned into Hubie Brown, millions of NBA fans would shoot themselves in the second quarter.

3) So what is your job? It’s very simple. You call the action, and you set up your color man. That’s it. Simple!

This will have several side benefits. For one, it will let the listeners know what is actually happening on the court, instead of inside your head. Second, it will help your color man deliver his insights, and hopefully initiate a delightful repartee. And third, it will help you avoid the cardinal sin for a play-by-play man, which is making a damn fool of himself.

Let me give you a few helpful examples from tonight’s game, by way of illustration:

When the TWolves surge to their 2 minute long, 4 point 2nd quarter lead, try not to say: “The difference in the game is the bench! Minnesota has one, the Warriors don’t!”  See, that implies that you know the difference between Minnesota’s bench, and the Warriors bench. I’m certain that you don’t want to leave your listeners with that impression. And also, it sounded a little panicked. Good play-by-play men never panic, in the second quarter.

Instead, why not try something like this: “Jim, besides old friend Anthony Tolliver, have you ever heard of any of the guys the TWolves are playing now?” Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could say: “Jim, do you think Joe Lacob did a worse job assembling the Warriors’ bench unit than even David Kahn?”

See? Bring Jim into the conversation in an artful way that is likely to stimulate thoughtful discussion, while merely hinting in the subtlest way at the panic that is coursing through  your veins. There’s an art to it.

Likewise, when Dorell Wright is in the middle of a record-breaking 9-12 night from beyond the arc, try to avoid saying things like “Dorell Wright is becoming a volume shooter from the perimeter now!” whenever he misses, as you did at 4:05 of the 2nd quarter. Or things like “It’s all on the perimeter!” just as DWright went up to bury his fourth three of the night. Or “Missed corner threes result in layups or dunks!” (Every time I hear that one I take another shot of Lagavulin, which leads to late night letter writing. Did you ever stop to consider that?)

Or, “The Warriors should be careful not to fall in love with the outside shot!” See, all these imply that you think you know something… and kind of make you sound like a….

Well, I think you get the picture. I would try something more along the lines of “Wow! What did you think of that shot, Jim??!!” Or, after DWright hits his ninth three, how about, “Jim, do you think Keith Smart has lost control of his team?”

4) Try lowering the volume a little. Many excellent play-by-play men say things that don’t have an exclamation mark at the end of them.

It is very tiring on my index finger to have to continually lower the volume as you shout your earnest platitudes, and then raise it back up to receive Jim Barnett’s measured wisdom. This happens to be the same finger that I bet and raise with when playing online poker, and like Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis in the fourth quarter, it needs some bench time.

You don’t have to shout to set up your color guy. And if you don’t shout, you can even use things like inflection, and humor, and irony, and subtle needling. There can be a real art to it. There can even be genius in it, if your name happens to be Marv Albert or Ralph Lawlor.

My recommendation to you, Bob, would be to listen to a hundred or so hours of Ralph Lawlor calling Clippers games, preferably back in the day, alongside Bill Walton. There is no better play-by-play man in the business. No one has ever been better at setting up his color guy. No one has ever been better at making his listeners burst out laughing at an innocent question. And no one has ever been better at directing the viewer’s attention where it belonged with a pertinent question. Throughout all of these decades of mind-numbingly horrendous Clippers seasons, Lawlor has never failed to achieve less than a perfect rapport with his color guy, or with his audience. He does it without shouting. He never pretends to be an expert. Never nags.

And he never, ever panics.

Yours truly,
Losing It in San Mateo

23 Responses to Thoughts on Bob Fitzgerald: Warriors 104 Timberwolves 94

  1. Fitz is like cheese and crackers, specifically cheese wiz on a saltine; palatable in small doses, but when it’s a large glob of orange goo topped with a green olive the prescription is to remove the olive, drop in a dry martini and conceal the un-appetizer in a crumpled napkin. The irony is he so often talks about role players and knowing who you are. So Bob, just be the best cracker you can be and please hold the cheese.

  2. Overall I like BobFitz. I think he is pretty good. But I have to agree with you its annoying as hell when he tries to talk over and correct Jim Barnett. I want to hear Barnetts insight, but it seems like Bob wants to do both. Barnett has forgotten more Bball then Fitz wil ever know.

    Fitz is good when he sticks to Play by Play. When he tries to provde color he becomes HORRIBLE.

  3. Im a big Greg Papa fan and I love the way he does Raiders, but Papa was awful at hoop. I use to literally watch the games on mute.

  4. Two things to be said in favor of Fitzgerald:

    1. He isn’t Matt Steinmetz.
    2. He isn’t Garry St. Jean.

    Steinmetz is a splash of cold water on a hot date. St. Jean is the blind date from hell.

  5. Hey Feltie – you are the “best read in bay area basketball” .. Loved the letter. But you sort of missed one. While watching the career game from Biedrins, Fitz kept going to his enthusiastic whiny, “ANOTHER REBOUND for Biedrins”!!!!… after a rebound fell into his lap. As if it was some unbelievable achievement for Andris. Not to say there isn’t some room for enthusiasm but the shtick was grating….

  6. While I agree with most of the criticism here, I’m in a mood to give Smart some credit (hey, it’s Sunday). The Warriors stayed in every game the last weeks but one, despite injuries and other problems. It could have been much worse and would have been with many other coaches.

    Great piece on Nelson/Tolliver.

  7. Thanks for the great analysis and the letter to Bob. I could not agree with you more. Thanks also for explaining the evil Gadz twins. Due to your insight and eloquence, today I no longer feel the necessity for a dinner of crow, accompanied by some fava beans, a nice Chianti and Bob Fitzgerald’s liver. Just kidding about the liver. I dislike liver almost as much as I dislike shrill, hysterical, whiny announcers.

  8. Ralph Lawlor is greater than the Warriors own Bill King? I know you did not say that, but whenever I critique a basketball announcer, I draw upon King for comparison. I’m going to have to catch me some Lawlor if he is in such august company.

  9. You’ve even topped yourself, Felty, by giving us not only another penetrating game analysis, but a bonus round of astute evaluation of Bob Fitzgerald. I second your comments about Bob and would like to add two more, while agreeing with you that he’s better than most:

    1) Two other posters mentioned his whining, and you cited specific whiny words, but what makes it so awful is the combination — whiny words spoken in a whiny voice by an adult male in his mid-40s. The pathetically juvenile tone of voice has begun to grate at a deep level.

    2) Bob’s need to opine has gotten worse since he began the KNBR afternoon talk show a few years ago. He seems unable to keep the opinionated talk-show mindset from polluting his play-by-play, and it’s more annoying by the season. I wish he could stop, but I believe he’d need the courage to swim against the tide, and I don’t see him having that.

    Led by ESPN, others are much worse at putting opinion over play-by-play. The combination of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson is becoming unlistenable, as they prattle and gossip about everything NBA, while ignoring the game we’re watching. It’s a trend fostered by ESPN, and I’m afraid we’re going to see more of it because of ESPN’s influence. One can only hope that Fitzgerald is mature enough and successful enough to resist.

    Lastly, may I say amen and praise the maker for Jim Barnett. He’s the best color announcer/analyst ever in the Bay Area, and I include Krukow. His insights are superior, his long-term perspective and great knowledge are invaluable, and his ability to point out a player’s strengths and weaknesses in a constructive way are golden. I’m very grateful we have him, and it should be noted that Lacob made the decision to keep both Jim and Bob, so we owe him thanks for that.

  10. I learn from Barnett every game I listen to him.

    One of my favorie lines of his from yesteryear:
    “Marciulionis is on the ground again. What else is new?”

  11. My personal favorites are when Fitz pimps Barnett by telling the audience, “And as Jim Barnett always says…”, forcing Barnett to then awkwardly correct the improper context into which Fitz has thrust Barnett’s past statement.

    It seems to me, Felty, that you don’t know a thing about Love.

    Love isn’t winning with Minne bc he doesn’t have a pg, his starting center is named Darko, and no one on the team except him is doing the little things necessary to win the damn game.

  12. Let’s support Felty’s latest campaign against Fitz, his boss Rowell and his boss Lacob.

    Lacob is on his way to become John York #2. Probably worse as he thinks too much of himself. Lacob wants to dictate style of basketball, made all player decisions, then have his son to carry out his decisions.

    Lacob wants to spend even less than Cohan as he has big loans to replay.

    His son? yeah, fresh out of college. Stanford, yes Stanford until you realize Kirk’s a legacy dumb azz.

    Dark days are ahead, my friends. Feltbot is the only thing that stands between Lacob and dark hole.

    Feltbot for team president.

  13. You might be on to something, FIG…

    Maybe God is a couch potato with a laptop!

    But could you have a word with the Thaiblonde? She’s not convinced….

  14. Thai chicks are known for being understanding.

    Feltbot got bigger fish to fry now. Feltbot is faithfuls’ last line of defense against that dark cloud aka Joe Lacob.

    Fitz is still callin’ plays for two reasons: Lacob want to save $$ and Lacob wants to invest Cohan’s newly earned $$.

    From now on, Felty is gonna 24×7 campaign against Lacob. Fetty’s blog will be Lacob’s Alamo.

    Quite sure Thaiblonde can be supportive for such mission.

  15. Felt, after listening to the latest speculation out of Miami concerning the future of Spoelstra I couldn’t resist the thought of “what if”. Specifically, what if Pat Riley, who supposedly isn’t crazy about returning to the job of head coaching, decides to call Don Nelson about coaching the Heat? How much fun would it be to watch Nelli coach those players for a few years? Your thoughts on the strictly hypothetical pairing of “The Triplets” and Don Nelson?

  16. Steve, you and I apparently share the same sickness. The thought of Nellie in Miami crossed my mind too. He would be the perfect coach for them if it weren’t for three factors: 1) Lebron would have to agree to play PF in crunch time; 2) Bosh would have to agree to play C; and 3) Pat Riley would have to put his ego aside, and watch an 80 year old man win 5 straight championships.

    So as you can see, it ain’t happening.

  17. fb, your reasoning is quite rational. It ain’t happening (right?). But it’s great fun to put into the blogosphere every chance we get. Ken Berger calls it an idea “straight out of Frankenstein” which would be so “delicious” that it might cause him to move to Miami so he “wouldn’t miss a minute…” Not exactly complimentary but not exactly negative either:

  18. Great link!

    What can we do to light up the internets on this???!

    It would be so awesome to really make some noise about this. Maybe a letter writing campaign. Or may maybe I should write a blog post, ship it over to Golden State of Mind, and have the Miami Heat blog pick it up, and have it syndicated automatically on SBNation, Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS Sports, and Sports Illustrated and Google news…. (GSoM has quite a reach)…

    Oh hell, I think I’ve just created some more unpaid work for myself :)

  19. I remember how you used to humiliate that teacher back in middle school-like Curry precociousness is something you have in common…I hope you’re joking about the explosives…I recall a few days I’d have made good use of HE

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