Better days for Don and Baron.
I’ve been meaning to look at what is rapidly becoming a full-blown-Shakespearian-drama, erupting in The House Of Cohan for quite sometime. Cohan is Chris Cohan, the increasingly invisible owner of The Golden State Warriors. As I have noted in the past, he made a disastrous mistake in purchasing The Warriors during a Mercury Retrograde in the early nineties. Ever since, “bad luck” has fallen upon a once proud and successful franchise.
Just to re-acquaint you with some of the gory details; their star player (Chris Webber) starts a feud with then coach, Don Nelson (much more about him later) and then opts out of his lucrative contact to sign a more lucrative contract with Washington, which triggers a player rebellion against Nelson, who has to step down because the team simply refused to play for him. Then their only star player (Latrell Sprewell) chokes their new coach (PJ Carlesimo) in practice, and is suspended for close to forty games. They draft a promising, yet unheralded point guard (Gilbert Arenas) in the second round of The NBA Draft, only to see Arenas leave (Washington again) due to a contractual technicality. Along the way, they lost out on drafting the following players, Amare Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett, taking instead NBA legends such s Todd Fuller and Adonal Foyle. Two years ago, in a bold attempt to trade for Kevin Garnett, they had a deal worked out on the night of the 2007 NBA Draft, but the deal went south when current GM, Chris Mullin (more about him later) experienced cell phone issues with Carolina Asst. GM, Rod Higgins and Higgins did not draft the player that was a key component in the quest to trade for Garnett. As a result, the trade never went through and The Warriors got a player (Branden Wright) that they didn’t really want.
Recently, another star player, Baron Davis had a deal on the table with The Warriors to extend his contract and at the very last minute, team president, Robert Rowell stepped in and went over Mullin’s head to veto the deal. Davis had a backdoor deal ready to go with The Clippers and he took it. The Warriors however, had committed over $30 million to their new, young star player, Monta Ellis, the green, yet obscenely talented kid from Mississippi and just after inking his new deal, he crashes his moped, his moped of all things and destroys his ankle, a crucial part of his body when it comes to his trade.
Mercury retrograde? Star-crossed? Are you with me?
But it was a mere two years ago, when I sat in The Oracle Arena for game six of the first round of The NBA Playoffs where The Warriors made a magical run and defeated the heavily favored Mavs with an electrifying brand of high intensity hoops, running other teams out the gym, or cutting their hearts out with a string of deadly three-point-shots. For a few, brief, incandescent weeks, it seemed as though they had trumped the curse, re-routed Mercury in some meaningful way and that the fortunes of The Warriors were on the upswing. But then came the failed KG trade, the defection of Davis and the fateful moped moment in the life of Monta Ellis. Why was their brief ascent so successful and why did they just as quickly succumb to inertia and crash with a humbling thud? The answer might lie in the astrological make-up of that 2006/7 team.
I remember when I first started to look at the aspects of players on that team, I was fairly blown away by the amount of Aries and Aquarians were on the roster. Out of a team of 15 players, three players, (Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Andris Biedrins) were Aries and four (Jason Richardson, Mickael Pietrus, Al Harrington and Josh Powell) were Aquarians. It would not be out of the question for them to field a line-up with Davis, Jackson, Richardson, Harrington and Biedrins. That’s all Aries and Aquarius and the results were dynamic, explosive, and rebellious. Jackson, Davis and Richardson were in your face players, sticking threes, talking trash, firing up The Oracle crowds. They exhibited all of the qualities of an air/fire team and could get hot in a moments notice, going on massive runs to close the gaps on seemingly insurmountable leads, or leaving teams in the dust. But such a combustible matrix could also burn itself out and everything along with it. And it did. They ran out of gas against a deeper, bigger, more physical team in The Utah Jazz and lost in the next round of the playoffs. Fan favorite Jason Richardson (Aquarius) was dealt to Charlotte for the aforementioned Wright (Libra) and while they finished the season with 48 wins, they still missed the playoffs and Nelson (Taurus) had reverted to his stubborn ways and bitter script. He became the story. Would he coach or would he not? He refused to play newcomers Wright and Marco Bellinelli (Aries) and ran his fire air brigade straight into the ground in a short rotation of eight players for most of the season. Nelson’s dog house got very crowded, as Matt Barnes, Wright, Patrick O’Bryant and the recently traded Al Harrington took up residence there.
Nelson is a complex character to say the least.
He’s the second most winning coach of all time in The NBA, but also has the most losses. He’s a volume winner, much like his team is built on volume shooters and scorers. He’s regarded as a tactical genius, but stubbornly refuses to alter his strategies, even when most of his critics can clearly illustrate the flaws in his strategies. He’s filthy rich, loves to drink scotch and smoke stogies, and can turn on a player in a heartbeat, displaying all the tendencies of a toxic, petty tyrant in the mold of ex-Yankee and A’s manager, Billy Martin. And now, Nelson has undermined the man that brought him back into The Warriors family, ex-player Chris Mullin.
Mullin (Leo) was part of The Run TMC Warriors that Nelson put together during his first stint in Oakland. Mullin was a gym rat, deadeye shooter who excelled in Nelson’s no defense system. He was also a man with some demons, alcohol being one of them and Nelson supposedly helped him out and got him into a treatment program. Mullin was brought in by Cohan and Rowell to try to re-capture some of the spirit of The Dubs last, successful incarnation. After some poor signings as GM and a failed hire of college coach, Mike Montgomery, Mullin convinced Nelson and Cohan to set aside their differences and allow Nelson to return to coaching in The Bay Area again. It was pure simpatico.
Mullin, with Nelson’s guidance got a lot smarter on The GM front rather quickly and Nelson got to do what he loves most, which is coach, dazzle people with his occasional brilliance and angle for more money and power. Nelson has four planets in Taurus, including a conjunction with his Sun and Uranus, which makes him decidedly unconventional and yet, almost self-destructively stubborn. He has Mars in Gemini, which to me is the aspect of the meddler. Former Forty-Niner coach, Mike Nolan shares Mars in Gemini with Nelson and he was always meddling, never satisfied with the status quo, even if it was successful, which in Nolan’s case, wasn’t very often. But one of the things that Nelson is noted for, is his ability to say more than one thing at time. He’s a master at hinting at meaning, lying to your face, telling the truth when the truth is simply some technique to distract or mislead a nosey reporter. Nelson can appear transparent when he’s at his Machiavellian best and lie through his teeth when he needs to paint a placid scenario.
He’s equally loved and feared by most Bay Area reporters for his often hilarious and seemingly “honest” quotes and yet, he’ll turn on them in an instant with the vengeance of a man with an eternal grudge. His Pluto in Leo at 0 degrees reveals a man that is deeply into power, especially as it squares his Saturn in Taurus, both fixed, both locked in a struggle over dominating the physical environment around Nelson.
The internecine power struggles now taking place within The Warriors organization with Nelson doing a land and money grab inside the team by essentially going over and around and beneath his old player, the man that brought him back off the coaching heap, Chris Mullin have a lot to do with Nelson’s obsession with power, money and dominance, Mullin’s Saturn in Aquarius squares most of Nelson’s stellium in Taurus and his Scorpio Moon opposes Nelsons Sun in Taurus, which is now engaged in a deeply polarizing power play, a drama that includes betrayal, ego, hubris, cunning and at the very center of it, a black space in the psychic life of Don Nelson, a void that all of the properties that he owns in Maui, the victories without a championship, the court battle and subsequent win over Mark Cuban in court over past wages, cannot fill.
Is Nelson a bad man? I don’t think so, but he’s fatally flawed and desptie the outward trappings of his success, he is a wounded soul that is inflicting more wounds on others as a result.
Pluto in Capricorn is now in a direct semi-square with Nelson’s own Pluto in Leo. My sense is that this will not end well and the biggest casualty in all of this drama, will be Don Nelson’s heart.
I’ll try to get back to the cosmic origins of the species and more hits from Pluto in Capricorn in the days to come.