Raymond Ridder. Yeah, I said it. Yeah, second day in the new studio and I’m starting a take by namechecking the greatest PR person in the history of professional sports. Strike that, the greatest person in the history of professional sports. And with good reason.
Because after Golden State’s 127-123 win over LA, in overtime, I’m not prepared to declared Warriors-Lakers the hottest new rivalry in the league, but I’m not ready to rule it out. And it starts from the top. And by the top, I mean the Warriors PR staff who, according to Mark Medina of the Mercury News, had a sheet of paper printed up for Luke Walton that read: ALL-TIME WARRIORS’ INTERIM HEAD COACH WINNING LIST FIRST: Mike Brown, 12-0 (1.000) LAST: Luke Walton, 39-4 (.906)
I don’t know who worked that up, if it was the legend himself, Raymond Ridder, or if it was the work of Matt Danessnara, Brett Winkler or Michael Ravina. But I love it.
And I’ll be honest, I loved that game. Brandon Ingram going up against the guy he’s frequently compared to, Kevin Durant, and more than holding his own with a career-high 32 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. KD had what Steve Kerr called a “KD game” with 29 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists, and hit the three that sent the game to overtime.
Lonzo going for a double-double with 15 and 10, including scoring on three straight possessions.
Draymond talking junk to Luke Walton during the game. And Steph Curry battling a finger injury and scored 13 in overtime including a pair of threes in the first minute of OT That was just flat-out fun.
Sure, the Warriors didn’t play their best game. They were way too loose with the ball, something that nearly drove Steve Kerr insane: “Tonight was absolutely galling. There were some mind-boggling plays out there, and I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve got to be able to take better care of the ball and make better decisions.”
But the Lakers also showed flashes. I’m the ultimate scoreboard guy. So I’m not into moral victories. The whole point of keeping score is to look up at the end and see who won and who lost. And the Warriors won and the Lakers lost. But if you’re a Laker fan, you can’t tell me you aren’t pumped by what you saw last night. Especially since they were without Kyle Kuzma.
The kids stepping to the champs and not backing down. You can’t tell me you aren’t fired up seeing Ingram show up the way that he did. He’s been getting better and better, but it felt like he took a big step forward last night. A career-high against KD and the best team of this era? You have my permission to get excited. And you have KD’s as well: “As a player playing against him, I hate to see it. But if I was watching on TV, I’d be really excited for him. You can see he’s learning and getting better.”
Yes to all of that and a reminder that he just turned 20 a couple months ago. Of course, the icing on the cake would’ve been the game-winner in regulation, but I’m not sweating that. They played well enough to win, they just didn’t win and the champs did what champs do, found a way to win when they weren’t playing their best.
I’m not saying everything is good in Lakerland and it’s time to bust out the car flags again, but the kids might just be all right. I’m not looking for moral victories, and participation trophies, but if there is such a thing as a good loss, that was it. We talk about it in horse racing: they ran a winning race; they came up just short. But they ran a winning race.