It seems so long ago.
The legendary No. 17 was moments away from being enshrined forever, raised to the rafters to join the heroes of the past. Wilt Chamberlain. Rick Barry. Nate Thurmond. They were moments away from welcoming a new member to their exclusive club.
Boos rained down from the crowd, years of frustration finally boiling over to the point of marring a special night. Lacob, inaudible over the jeers, simply stood there, unsure of what to do. Ironically enough, it was Barry, notoriously known for his brash attitude and prickly personality, who came to the rescue (or attempted to, anyway), grabbing the mic and addressing the crowd:
“Show some respect,” he said. “Give this man the respect he deserves.”
It was all for naught. All the talk of “going in the right direction” and “practicing patience” fell on deaf ears. The 2007 playoff run was a nice distraction, but years of ineptitude are not so easily forgotten. Throw in a blatant tank-job and the trade of fan-favorite Monta Ellis, and, well, it’s a wonder this scene hadn’t happened sooner.
This wasn’t all that long ago.
Merely a year removed from that ugly scene, the Warriors now find themselves in the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, the Denver Nuggets in their rearview mirror and the San Antonio Spurs fast approaching.
Joe Lacob. Marc Jackson. Stephen Curry. Harrison Barnes. Andrew Bogut. All those men have played significant roles in the 180 this franchise has taken. But their efforts pale in comparison to those most responsible—the fans. Yes, those same fans that booed Lacob.
One thing must be made clear: Those fans were not booing Chris Mullin. Their intent was not to tarnish his legacy. I should know. I was there. They simply wanted accountability.
There has been much talk of the raucous crowd that packs Oracle Arena—affectionately nicknamed ‘Roaracle’ during this playoff run—each and every game. The thing nobody mentions about those fans, however, is that they have been there since the beginning. That crowd in yellow cheering their team's success was also there jeering during the paper bag era. Through the good and the bad, their support never wavered.
The Golden State fanbase was picked apart around the country for their show of defiance on that storied night. Those criticizing were wrong to do so. They missed the big picture. Those fans wanted what they have now. And while it might seem childish and petty to choose that particular night, they were simply making it known that ineptitude would no longer be tolerated, not after one playoff run in 18 years. A year later, it seems that management got the message.
The Warriors management and team have rewarded them with the type of hope that hasn’t been seen in years. In turn, the fans have returned the favor the only way they know how to—making Oracle roar.