Golden State Warriors: Joe Lacob Says Right Things in Wrong Way

When Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors in July 2010, it marked a key moment in the team’s history.

In addition to the Warriors’ selection of Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft, the trade of Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut, the other key draft selections of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, etc, the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, the hiring of Mark Jackson and then Steve Kerr, these decisions were all a part of the miraculous transformation the Warriors have made from being one of the most embarrassing franchises in the NBA to possibly one of the best teams in NBA history.

Off the court, Lacob and Guber represent the new era for the Warriors. Guber is a little more of a behind-the-scenes type of owner, whereas Lacob is a little more of the public face of the ownership and is certainly more outspoken than his ownership partner. Lacob has experienced somewhat of a rollercoaster of approval during his tenure as a Warriors owner.

The beginning of the ownership was full of excitement, mostly because Warriors fans were so happy to see the dreaded Chris Cohan era finally come to an end. In what has become a key moment in the Lacob-Guber era, Lacob was infamously booed during a pregame ceremony for Chris Mullin in March 2012. Fans were upset at the time with a controversial trade that the Warriors made that sent away fan favorite Ellis and brought in often-injured Bogut.

I was at the game that night, and it both intrigued and disturbed me that the fans were booing Lacob. I was disturbed because no one deserves that kind of disrespect, especially during a moment that was meant to celebrate Mullin’s illustrious career as a Warrior. In addition, I was a very strong proponent of the Ellis trade, because I was (and still am) a passionate and diehard Curry fan who believed from the moment he was drafted that he was the future of the team (and the league).

However, I was somewhat intrigued by the booing, because, personally, I wasn’t fond of Lacob’s cocky personality. When he first bought the team, he promised bold moves, which he failed to do for the first couple seasons. I knew that bold moves and real change would take some time, so that comment didn’t really bother me that much. To me, it was more frustrating that he discussed himself and what he would do with this team in such an arrogant manner. He seemed very self-centered and, in interviews, often failed to give others (including Guber, Myers, Curry, etc) any form of credit.

Although I wasn’t a big fan of who Lacob was as a person, I did respect the success he was building on the court. He has surrounded himself with a team of executives and coaches that are incredibly knowledgeable about the game of basketball, and he made some key trades and acquisitions that were smart business decisions but also helped produce a winning team and respected franchise.

Three playoff appearances and one championship later, I believe that Dub Nation should be forever grateful towards both Guber and Lacob for buying the team and saving us from more Cohan controversy, for promising and ultimately making bold moves, and for building a winning culture and a championship team.

Seeing the Warriors win a championship has been a lifelong goal for me, and to be honest, it seemed like a far-fetched goal at times based on the team’s numerous losing seasons. When I think back on the Warriors’ championship last season, I will remember Curry’s wizardry and dominance, Iguodala’s impact in the Finals,Coach Kerr’s success as a rookie coach, all of Thompson’s and Green’s contributions, Andrew Bogut’s ferocity and defense, David Lee‘s sacrifice, and the bench stepping up at key moments.

The thing that I will remember the most about last year’s Warriors team and this current Warriors team though is their character and chemistry. It’s what the best teams are built around (just look at my other favorite team, the San Francisco Giants), and to me, it’s what makes me love my two favorite teams, the Warriors and the Giants, even more. Character is often overlooked in sports, but to me, it’s the thing that makes sports so special.

Because of this, it’s especially frustrating to me that Lacob displays such arrogance at times, as he did in an interview with Bruce Schoenfeld of the New York Times. Here’s what Lacob said:

We’ve crushed them on the basketball court, and we’re going to for years because of the way we’ve built this team,” he said. But what really set the franchise apart, he said, was the way it operated as a business. “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things,” he said. “We’re going to be a handful for the rest of the N.B.A. to deal with for a long time.”

There’s a much more graceful, respectful way that Lacob could’ve gotten his point across than the way he phrased it. He’s correct that the Warriors have become one of the elite franchises in the NBA in a fairly short period of time, and yes, Lacob is a big part of that. He completely changed how the franchise was run, and he helped changed the culture and the mindset within the organization. However, does it need to be said with such a cocky undertone? Is that really necessary and professional?

It’s one thing to be confident. Why wouldn’t you be when you own the best team in the NBA? However, there’s a significant difference between confidence and cockiness. In fact, there’s even a difference between cockiness and arrogance, and Lacob often straddles the line between the two. Coming from one of the leaders of an elite NBA franchise that has assembled a team of players that respect the game, play the right way, and that are good people, the level of arrogance shown in that quote is shameful.

Lacob has every right to compliment this Warriors team on what they’ve accomplished and how they have gone about winning at the rate that they have. They are having a historic season that is often unbelievable, and they deserve as much praise as possible. That praise should be framed in the right way though. The owner of that historical team should be presenting himself in the same fashion as the team on the court. If the organization is truly about success based on character, then Lacob needs to display that himself.

Some might not put the same level of importance on the fact that arrogance is an incredibly unattractive, unnecessary quality and some might not value character in sports in the same way I do, but Lacob’s quote is especially disappointing to me given the fact that the Warriors pride themselves on building a team and franchise based on high character.