The timing was uncomfortable for everyone — it was supposed to be a night about Chris Mullin. One of the legends of the Golden State Warriors, the Hall of Fame player and former team GM, getting his number retired.
But instead, it will be known as the night Warriors fans unloaded on team co-owner Joe Lacob, booing him mercilessly.
Why? It’s complex. The trade of Monta Ellis — the popular scoring two-guard — for the oft-injured Andrew Bogut was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That move was not generally popular in the Bay Area.
But it’s more than just that. Ray Ratto put it this way at CSNBayArea.com.
Now (Lacob) gets the picture. Nobody escapes while the team is not winning. Nobody gets a pass for good intentions. Six playoff appearances in 36 years, and one in 18, shout far louder than a public relations gesture triggered by a generous spirit.
It really but it comes back to this:
Golden State fans have been some of the most passionate in the league for decades and have suffered through decades of Chris Cohen ownership that would have been the worst in the league had Donald Sterling not lapped the field. They have made the playoffs once in the last 18 seasons and thrown the towel in on this one.
The sins of the father have come to the son. Lacob may have worked to change the Warriors culture since he and Peter Guber bought the team — that includes reconnecting with Mullin, being more accessible to fans, trying to make the team more defense oriented, bringing in Marc Jackson — but until the Warriors actually start winning and showing the changes are working it will not matter.
There is a sense Lacob talks a good game but cannot walk the walk.
Eric Freeman, a Bay Area resident who has followed the Warriors for years, summed the feelings up well at Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie.
The Ellis trade was certainly a factor in the uproar, but it exists in a context that explains the boos much better. For one thing, Lacob’s reaction to the trade has been questionable at best, with him already referring to it as a “transcendent deal that is going to change everything” and comparing it to the Celtics’ trade for Kevin Garnett in 2007. Every other reaction to the trade has been considerably more measured, with those in favor looking at it as one step in a long process and the detractors, like me, viewing it as exchanging one form of mediocrity for another. Either way, Lacob’s rationale for the deal is ludicrous, a response that either proves he has little knowledge of the sport or suggests he thinks very little of his fan base.
Simply put, there’s a growing feeling among the fan base that Lacob is more about talk than results. In little more than a year, he has promised the playoffs, only to steer the team towards tanking for draft position; suggested that real fans buy season tickets; hired a head coach with no experience at any level of the sport beyond an impressive playing career; talked up Klay Thompson as a Rookie of the Year candidate before he’d played a preseason game; and told anyone who’ll listen that everything is going fine. On top of that, he supported the lockout (which, whether with merit or not, robbed fans of games and led to a bizarre season). So, when Lacob took the stage at a ceremony honoring a player he had no involvement with whatsoever, the whole moment seemed a little off. If he had a better sense of Warriors’ fans outlook on the team, he might have stayed away entirely and cheered Mullin along with everyone else.
Does that excuse the Warriors fans ruining Chris Mullin’s moment? No. The timing for expressing their displeasure was poor.
But Lacob took the microphone AFTER Mullin spoke. That’s bad form. And if he didn’t know before he knows now that he has a passionate fan base, but one that expects a lot more than just platitudes. They want change. They want to see real change.