Throughout our chat, Goldberg spoke ruefully about the talk show he used to host on WIOD, which featured guests such as Janet Reno and Jorge Mas Canosa. It was the sort of show, he implied, that the Miami market wasn't ready for. And its termination, which coincided with the frantic influx of franchises, sucked him right back into the sports vortex, which consists of four days on WQAM and long weekends at ESPN, where he hosts a football show and watches Heat and Panthers games in the green room between tapings.
To signify he'd had enough, Goldberg offered one last observation, which managed to bring home what he'd been talking about all along A how greed and starfucking have bled sports of escapism A and which helped me understand why sports pundits, himself included, so stubbornly resist sounding off about issues of substance. "You know, 30 years ago we wouldn't even be talking about this stuff," he sighed. "We'd just be asking who was going to start the next game." Then he dashed home to catch the second half of the Heat game on his own TV set.
A week later the Warriors, my Warriors, visited Miami. They played an embarrassing first half, as bad as they had looked in Orlando the night before, and went into the second half down by thirteen. A mediocre Heat team was making palookas out of them.
Midway through the third quarter, though, the Warriors seemed to awaken from hibernation. They began double-teaming. Setting solid picks and executing radar-defying rolls. Latrell Sprewell buried his long jumpers. Billy Owens crashed the offensive boards. Chris Webber, that overpriced rookie, broke Rony Seikaly into egotistical, long-haired bits. I screamed my lungs out, and the Heat fans looked at me like I was some kind of idiot. Not for rooting for the Warriors. But for rooting at all. How provincial.
While I filled the dismal Arena with the unfamiliar sound of an untamed fan, my team clawed its way back from seventeen. Ailing, overmanned, underdogged, they finally pulled one out. After the game I floated back to the New Times building. I took an elevator to the roof and snuck outside to look at the sky. I ran around in a circle. I did twenty pushups. I forgave the world a few of its sins and edged a little closer to redemption. Then, voice lifted to the edge of the clean-breaking clouds, I thanked the Golden State Warriors.
Three days later, in the darkness of suburban Detroit, the curse of the Warriors struck again. Chris Webber twisted his ankle. For the third time this year. He was listed as out of action indefinitely. You may laugh, but I can assure you that this, too, is part of Don Nelson's plan.