The Warriors sleepwalked through this game against the woebegone Nets, which is only natural on a holiday day-game against a cellar-dwellar. So I’m just going to give a pocket recap of the game, before moving on to other matters that affected me more deeply on this Martin Luther King day.
Monta is right now playing with an unselfishness and efficiency that is nearly unmatched in the league. As a result of raising his free throw percentage, he has been the #1 player in fantasy basketball for the last couple of months. Number one. And in the real world of NBA basketball, I rate him in the top 10 players in the league. There is no doubt in my mind that he could lead a team to a championship.
David Lee is finally returning to the form he flashed earlier in the season. I am tempted to say that his offensive efficiency, when you include his preternatural passing ability, is every bit as remarkable as Monta’s, if not nearly so spectacular. On the defensive end, his trenchwork on the Lopezasaurus will probably go unnoticed by the media, but I noticed it.
Stephen Curry continues to struggle with foul trouble against the quickest guards in the league. Which prompted my usual thought: Why in the world did Smart have him guarding Devin Harris when he could have easily guarded the non-scoring Stephen Graham? In my opinion, that decision made this game far closer than it should have been.
Reggie Williams continues to blossom in the role that Don Nelson invented for him, point forward. And Vlad Rad continues to blossom in the role Nellie envisioned for him (but was too unlucky to actually get), spread-four. The offensive flow of the Lee-Vlad Rad lineup is something to behold. They can do anything on the court: drive and dish with Monta, drive and dish with DWright or RWilliams at point-three. Pick and roll or pick and pop with Curry. 40% from three from FOUR spots on the floor.
It’s a lineup that cannot be defended by any team in the league. Not the Lakers, not the Heat, not the Celtics. It’s not a championship lineup. Not yet. But I like it against all but the elite teams in the league.
That’s all I have on Warriors basketball. I do have a few thoughts on Martin Luther King day that I’d like to share, though. If that’s not of interest to you, you can safely stop reading here.
MLK day this year has really resonated with me. This year, it falls at a remarkable moment in our nation’s and our world’s history. The aspirational struggles we are currently witnessing in Tunisia, and across the Arab world, and that we recently witnessed in Iran, are closely connected in my mind to Dr. King’s message of freedom, justice and equality, of hope and understanding. Dr. King addressed himself to Americans, but his message was universal.
His message was also recently taken up, I believe, by our President, in the wake of the tragic Arizona shootings. In a speech that I think will live on in posterity, Barack Obama exhorted his fellow Americans:
Let us expand our moral imagination, … sharpen our empathy, remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.
Could we have experienced President Obama’s inspirational message had it not been for Dr. King? Would Obama’s election to the presidency of the United States have even been possible if Dr. King had not lived?
Whatever your politics, I think everyone can agree that Barack Obama’s election sent a powerful message about the essence of our democracy resonating not just through our land, but around the globe. His election reaffirmed our nation’s leading role in the world, not as a superpower, but as a shining example of a land where all men and women are truly equal, and all things are possible for those who dream, and work hard to achieve their dreams.
On the day of Obama’s election the United States of America relit what the man we honor today might have called our “beacon light of hope.”
Years ago, a white friend of mine and I were discussing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing during our lunch break from trading options at the Pacific Exchange. Out of the blue, he asked me who my greatest hero was. I said, “Abraham Lincoln.” (Which was true, at that time I read everything I could get my hands on about him.) Then I asked my friend who his greatest hero was. He replied, somewhat smugly I thought, “Martin Luther King.”
I was taken by surprise by that answer. Part of it was annoyance. This friend always had to one-up me!
But kidding aside, I have never forgotten that simple exchange. And it affected me deeply. It got me thinking, and in the end, prompted me to widen my circle of heroes. I had always greatly admired Martin Luther King, but never really considered him as a personal hero. He didn’t belong to me, I felt. But why not?
Did Gandhi belong to me? Nelson Mandela? What about Jesus? For someone raised by agnostic Jews, that was truly a radical thought. After Jesus, thinking about Siddhartha came naturally.
I have grown since that time. If someone asked me now who my greatest hero is, I would give several names. And one of those names is Martin Luther King.
He belongs to me now too.