When I tuned in on Monday night to watch the Golden State Warriors’ halftime ceremony to honor and retire the number of franchise legend Chris Mullin, I was expecting to witness a retrospective of the glory and professionalism that Mullin reminded fans of from the good ol’ days. When the franchise was competitive and actually employed players who were Hall-of-Fame caliber—like Mullin himself.
Instead, what I watched on TV was a magnificent downpour of boos, a thundering disapproval of Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob. As Lacob took the microphone mid-ceremony, in an effort to acknowledge the franchise’s appreciation for Mullin’s Hall-of-Fame service on the court in a Warriors uniform, a cascade of booing crashed from a choir in the nosebleed seats.
Lacob, noticeably flustered, attempted in vain to redirect the attention to the objective at hand: Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony. But, alas, to little avail. The sellout crowd could not hold back its temper and showered its displeasure of, well, something—anything. Everything, really.
Yes, it was inappropriate it was to rain on Mullin’s parade. After all, he was having his jersey number retired, forever to be immortalized among the greatest players to ever put on a Golden State Warriors uniform. He certainly was one of the team’s more likeable players over the past 30 years.
But Lacob was receiving a firsthand account of what it’s like to be the owner of one of the NBA’s most fragile and frustrated franchises. Since his ownership group was announced back in November of 2010, there have been many things to be disgruntled about for Warriors fans. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons for Golden State fans chose to boo Lacob during his short 14-month reign as the team’s co-owner.
In Lacob’s first real player personnel decision, the team opted to send away its 2007 first-round draft pick, forward Brandan Wright and center Dan Gadzuric to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for former Warrior Troy Murphy and a 2011 second-round pick.
Wright had done several wrong things in his short four-year NBA career, the first of which was being drafted by the Warriors and the second of which was playing for Don Nelson. It’s a fairly reconfirmed fact that Nelson has a hard time doling away playing time to young rookies or second-year players, and Wright never got the footing he deserved.
He wasn't great, but he wasn't terrible, either. Though he shot 54.6 percent from the field in his short stint in Golden State, Wright was deemed a bust, and thus, sent packing.
Incidentally, the Murphy and the Warriors reached an agreement on a buyout, and he was subsequently waived. And the second-round pick in the 2011 draft was actually rerouted to the Los Angeles Lakers. After some mix-up in the exchange of future draft picks, Golden State actually lost their 2011 selection to Los Angeles, who ended up choosing Darius Morris in the second round.
Splendid player movement, Lacob.
Though the team possessed one of the most electrifying young back courts in the league in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors slogged to a 36-46 campaign last season. Injuries to Curry and David Lee hampered any opportunity to grow for the young Warriors squad, and other ailments to starting center Andris Biedrins prevented the starting lineup from completely gelling.
Golden State finished with the 12th-best record in the Western Conference, far, far away from the playoff picture. Worse, though, was the fact that young upstart teams like Oklahoma City, Portland and Memphis each made the postseason, a clear indication that their respective franchises were ahead of the curve and that Golden State had a long ways to go before becoming relevant again.
Also, the Warriors ranked 27th in total defense, another sign that the team had some changes to make in order to become competitive in the stacked Western Conference.
Last year was the 15th season the past 17 that the Warriors posted a losing record. Losing takes its toll on fans, and booing is a natural reaction to the collection of losses and losing seasons.
After one innocuous season, head coach Keith Smart was fired last April. Though the Warriors improved by 10 games from the 2009-10 campaign, the 36 wins were not enough to save his job.
Never mind the fact that the Warriors starting lineup possessed the All-Soft Team in defensive pushovers Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Andris Biedrins and Dorell Wright. Never mind the rotation included a Who’s Who? of characters like Al Thornton, Reggie Williams, Rodney Carney, Jeff Adrian and Acie Law—each of whom played more than 23 games in various capacities in 2010-11. Of those five, only Williams and Adrian are currently with an NBA team this season, which demonstrates the type of talent Smart was working with last year.
Smart may not have been the best head coach for a team that was extremely young, inexperienced and leaderless. But it may not have been the brightest idea to let him go after only one season. However, Lacob and company wanted to bring in their own guy, and Smart was unfortunately (or fortunately) not.
It wasn't necessarily dumb to fire Smart, but it is taxing on a team's fanbase to have to go through these motions year after year after year.
Can you blame Warriors fans for being fed up with the coaching carousel? Smart was the 10th head coach at Golden State since 1995. That’s roughly one head coach every 19 months.
Where’s the consistency? Where’s the opportunity to gel? Who are these people?
Let’s remember that a short four months ago, we were on the verge of not having an entire NBA season. Oh yeah! That NBA lockout thing. Totally forgot about that one.
Lest we forget the owners—the owners—were the instigators in the work stoppage due to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. On the table was, among other things, the issue of revenue sharing, limiting the length of long-term contracts to players and a revised salary cap. The salary cap item was a contentious one, and it turned into the most sensitive issue that stalled negotiations time and time again.
In fact, it was the owners who were blamed for the continued disagreement, as they rebuffed the salary cap compromise and were quite particular on the players’ proposal to accept a 53 percent of all basketball-related income (down from original 57 percent.) The owners wanted the players’ cut to be 47 percent, and the two sides ultimately bandied numbers back and forth in order to reach a 50-50 split. But even then, there was bickering, and an agreement was not reached regarding this sole issue.
As a result of all the quarreling between the two sides, the NBA was forced to cancel its training camp, preseason and exhibition games and a significant number of regular season games. When the negotiations finally were settled, the NBA season had been delayed by almost two months.
The season was shortened to a 66-game schedule, and training camp lasted for only a couple of weeks. The free-agency period to sign players was shortened; teams did not have ample time to coagulate their new rosters. Those franchises with new management, coaching or other front office changes had little time to make necessary adjustments to ready themselves for the abbreviated season.
Fans were extremely disgruntled at the fact that both parties were seemingly squabbling about nothing—the one percent arguing with the point-five percent. Occupy the NBA, fans would say. Why are they penny pinching—I mean, one-hundred-dollar-bill pinching? Let’s get basketball back to normal.
Many fans walked away from this season, set to boycott the tiff between the rich and the richer.
Thanks, owners. Thanks a lot. That goes for you, too, Joe Lacob. You're an owner; you get booed.
Prior to the NBA work stoppage, the Golden State Warriors auditioned several candidates to replace Keith Smart as the team’s next head coach. With Lacob and the rest of the ownership team intent on revamping the culture of the organization and turning the team around into a successful franchise again, there was big talk about whom the Warriors wanted to run the show.
Alas, due in large part to the eternal quagmire that is the Golden State Warriors, former NBA coaches Jerry Sloan and Jeff Van Gundy respectfully declined interviewing for the Dubs’ head coaching vacancy. After all, why would anyone necessarily want to be the Warriors head coach? It’s like wanting to be the next Oakland Raiders head coach. Or the manager of the Oakland A’s. Leading a sports franchise in the East Bay is not a truly desired job.
The head coach of the Golden State Warriors is a position where grown men cry, lose years of their lives and ultimately are buried in oblivion. Ten men have been the Warriors head coach in the past 16 seasons. Of those 10, only Don Nelson and Rick Adelman have enjoyed anything close to success elsewhere after leaving Golden State. P.J. Carlesimo got choked, Eric Musselman went on to coach the Venezuelan men’s national team (fact!) and Mike Montgomery went back to college.
Knowing the abyss that is the Warriors head coaching position, Mark Jackson decided that he wanted to be the one to change the ways of the Golden State organization, and the Warriors decided that Jackson was the one to take them back to the promised land (postseason.)
Jackson, mind you, had no previous head coaching experience. Though he enjoyed a long and storied career as an NBA point guard and he also found success as a television analyst, Jackson was a newbie when it came to coaching an NBA team. He has preached a revitalized emphasis on defense and has promised that the Warriors will return to the playoffs.
Oops. Not this year, at least.
Good pick, Lacob.
Amid all of the chaos surrounding the shortened preseason and training camp, nearly every NBA team was scrambling to acquaint themselves with their draft picks, make player personnel decisions and acquire free agents.
Golden State, in an effort to think bigger than big, wanted to make a huge splash to acquire a big-time free agent or soon-to-be free agent. In an effort to bring star power back to the Warriors, Lacob and the front office took long strides in attempting to land either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, two of the biggest young superstars in the league today.
It’s no secret that the Warriors have been trying to land a big man, a post player, a paint filler since 1994, and their pursuit of Howard, though seemingly outlandish, was the real deal.
To prove how serious the Warriors were, they avowed that both of their hot commodities—point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Monta Ellis—were on the trading block. Golden State would be willing to rid one or both of them in order to attain Paul and/or Howard.
Unfortunately, as is the case oftentimes when it comes to the Warriors, the big dreams they had conjured out fell flat, and the bubbles burst on both fronts. Paul ultimately was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers, instantly making them a contender in the loaded Western Conference, and Howard eventually agreed to stay in Orlando after much speculation about his intended destination as a free agent next season.
Then what was all that hoopla about with the Warriors? Were they ever legitimate landing spots for either player? If not, then what was the point of all that build-up? It ended up being one big tease—for Warriors fans. What started off as disbelief that Golden State could possibly acquire one of the league’s top-10 players turned into disbelief that the Warriors were ever truly potential trading partners to begin with.
Dwight Howard in the East Bay would have been pretty sweet. Instead, we still got Andris Biedrins. Boooo.
Amid their quest to attain a significant free agent or free-agent-to-be during the preseason, the Warriors went to plan C. Or plan D or L or whatever. After angling for the big catch in Dwight Howard, Golden State was unable to snag the Orlando Magic center.
So as a back-up option, Lacob and the Dubs threw out a net for Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan.
Not a tremendously sexy pick considering the other potential stars Golden State was rumored to be wooing were Howard and Chris Paul, but Jordan is a talented front court player who plays both ends of the floor with both power and athleticism. Which is not something that many people think of with the Warriors’ current front line of David Lee and Andris Biedrins.
In order to court Jordan, the Warriors had to make some room in their salary cap. Golden State was able to move some money around and provide an offer sheet to Jordan at four years for $43 million.
In order to find some extra salary-cap space, the Warriors had to cut someone. That player was back-up point guard Jeremy Lin. In case you haven’t heard, Lin is the same Lin who turned the NBA world Linsane with his remarkable run in February as a New York Knick. Yes, that Jeremy Lin.
True, Linsanity would not have existed had Lin remained in Golden State. He would have seen some time in Stephen Curry’s absence, but the fact remains, the Warriors are (were) Monta Ellis’ team. Lin would have provided some excitement, albeit temporarily, and then returned to the bench, buried behind several other guards.
Still, the Warriors fanbase feels slighted. They feel that Golden State missed out on an opportunity to have the world’s most popular player. That Lin is from the Bay Area only makes it more heart-wrenching to witness.
Oh, and sadly for the Dubs, the Clippers matched the offer sheet, and Jordan ultimately re-signed with Los Angeles.
Due to the revised collective bargaining agreement, under the amnesty clause, each team could decree that one of its players can be waived, and his contract would not count against the salary cap. It’s a complicated swapping and crunching of numbers, but in this abbreviated season, it certainly could help with the books in the long-run.
Meanwhile, Biedrins, whose bajillion-dollar contract had weighed down the team for the past several seasons, was kept on the roster despite the Warriors’ interest in pursuing a replacement big man. Obviously, the Dubs were insuring themselves if they were not able to land Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler, three of their coveted acquisitions during the season.
Luckily for Biedrins, he was not waived. For this season, Biedrins is sporting a 1.9-points-per-game average. He was benched in favor Ekpe Udoh, but Udoh was traded and Biedrins currently is submerged on the bench somewhere.
Andris Biedrins deserves some of the boos. Lacob isn’t the one playing, but the mere fact that Biedrins is even on the roster makes Lacob the scapegoat.
For the past four seasons, the only player worth watching on the Golden State Warriors roster had been Monta Ellis. The seven-year shooting guard (along with Andris Biedrins) was one of the last remaining links to the short-lived “We Believe” playoff team from 2007.
Ellis was the little guy who could. He could shoot, pass, score and make some of the most unfathomable plays for the perennially faltering Warriors franchise. Over the past couple of seasons, however, the lack of talent around him seemed to take a toll. He was carrying the team by himself, night in and night out, and the losing piled up no matter what he did.
Through all of the changes in the front office and the coaching staff, Ellis was the steady force.
But when the Warriors drafted point guard Stephen Curry in the 2010 NBA draft, there was a modicum of belief that the Golden State was ready to move on from Ellis. After all, Curry was, like Ellis, a smallish guard who did not defend very well and needed the ball in his hands in order to make plays on offense. Though Curry was more of a pure shooter, Ellis needed to handle the ball more often in order to execute his slashing and driving scoring plays. It was deemed that the two could not work together as a backcourt tandem.
Though the duo proved to be one of the more exciting guard combos in the league, it was clearer and clearer that the Warriors could not win consistently with them in tow. True, they surprised teams once in a while. True, Curry and Ellis combined could score 60 points in a game and dish out 15 assists. But ultimately, wins are what counts, and the two of them could not manufacture enough of them in their short two-plus seasons.
Joe Lacob decided that Ellis was indeed tradable. He was dangled in several trade scenarios with teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic. After all the months of speculation, Ellis was finally shipped off to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, in exchange for center Andrew Bogut and swingman Stephen Jackson.
Yes, the Golden State Warriors rid themselves of the team’s best player, their only legitimate superstar, one of the league’s most dynamic scorers in exchange for a player who is likely injured for the remainder of the season (Bogut) and a player who they subsequently shipped off to San Antonio (Jackson.)
If there’s any reason to boo Lacob, it’s for this trade. The preaching of returning to the playoffs this season proved to be a farce. And this transaction was a clear sign to the Warriors fanbase that the next opportunity for the playoffs will be in 2013—or later.
Make no mistake, Warriors fans probably should not have booed during the ceremony to retire the franchise’s only legend of the past 30-plus years. But given the fact that co-owner Joe Lacob decided to take the spotlight during a very tenuous period of the organization’s timeline, it’s not surprising that the Warriors faithful took it upon themselves to let out some frustration, serenading him with embarrassing boos.
Yes, this vocalized displeasure slightly took away from Chris Mullin’s moment. But let’s be honest, Mullin will never forget his jersey retirement ceremony, and nobody will be able to capture the booing in the photos or No. 17 that is hanging from the rafters. Mullin’s professionalism and overpowering talents are forever immortalized in the annals of Golden State Warriors lore no matter what happened before, during or after his ceremony.
It’s Lacob who will be ashamed of the actions that took place that evening. And given the tumultuous first 14 months of his ownership regime, it’s not surprising in the least bit that the booing took place.
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