The Reverend Ishmael Charles just sat down from a three-hour Revival service. The sweat on the back of his lavender preaching shirt was still spotted wet in the back when he pulled out his smart phone to check the score.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the evangelist’s Caribbean voice boomed over dinner in the fellowship hall. “The Warriors are winning by 21 points in the fourth quarter. Twenty-one points! In Cleveland!”
And all the saints shouted Amen, while Charles – a Lakers fan until now – threw his graying head back in laughter.
The Golden State Warriors did more than beat the Cavaliers 108-85 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday, just as they did more than sweep their way to a third NBA title in four seasons.
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These Warriors are winning the world – and an entire generation – over, from kids jump-shooting for joy on this limestoned British island, to a wood-floor living room in Porterville where my 11-year-old has decided he now has a favorite basketball team.
“Steph Curry’s a beast, Dad,” Ethan said on the phone after “his” Warriors won the crown.
Curry sure is, which is why kids the world over are pledging their fandom to a team in Oakland.
Curry is the one superstar of a player who can make kids think they can grow up and be a star. He’s skinny. He’s small, compared to the LeBron Jameses of our world. Curry’s offensive philosophy is based on a trick-shot strategy book straight out of H-O-R-S-E.
Best of all? The guy has the time of his life, and this generation gets a kick out of that stuff. Remember, we’re talking about a target audience that does The Floss every time they level up on a video game. Actually, they are now doing The Shoe. Don’t ask, just look it up.
They love how Curry shimmies when he drops a 3-point shot from Toronto, particularly when the game is played in Cleveland. They love the way he smiles, the way he chews on his mouth guard, the way he pumps his fists down when he throws his head up in a primal scream.
Did you read what’s happened in the Bay Area this week? A youth league retired Curry’s No. 30 jersey number. Not to honor the guy. But because every kid wants to be No. 30, and taking 30 out of the jersey rotation was the only way to break up the fight.
When it comes to being universally beloved, No. 30 is the new No. 23, and we don’t mean LeBron.
Curry is all the Warriors need to be favored team of those without a team. When is the last time an NBA team has become everyone else’s favorite?
Average fans could never get behind LeBron. The San Antonio Spurs of the double-zeroes were too yes-sir about their business, just as Kobe Bryant’s Lakers were just too Kobe to be relatable.
You have to go back to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls to find a team that was as great and dynastic as they were follow-able.
Those Bulls won six NBA titles in eight years. These Warriors are halfway there. You can’t say they’re as good as those Bulls, but you can absolutely say they are the best team since.
Newfound fans from here to back there are like me: they can’t wait to see what Curry and Friends can do next.
1. How’s this for bringing wrestling back to Fresno State? Two Bulldogs assistant coaches are in the finals for a spot on the U.S. National team this month – Jason Chamberlain and Joe Colon. Throw in Lemoore’s Isaiah Martinez in another final, and yeah, wrestling’s a pretty big deal in these parts.
2. Ohio State men’s volleyball player Aaron Samarin won a Big Ten sportsmanship award last week. Reminds me of one of the greatest sports this place has ever known – his mom, Vicki Samarin, a 25-year prep coach who died just over a year ago at age 56. Your mom’s gotta be so proud.
3. LeBron James < Michael Jordan, because Jordan never lost once in the NBA Finals, much less six times. And before you blame James’ support staff, always remember: LeBron picks the hired help. If the teammates stink, it’s because James insists on having lousy teammates.