** If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch the video first. To preface this, I am writing this entry as a longtime fan of the Golden State Warriors. Basketball was my first love and this team was all I ever cared about when I was a little kid. All the years of frustration the fans have gone through, I understand it because I lived it with them.
The night was supposed to be a night of celebration. The Golden State Warriors were going to honor Chris Mullin by retiring his #17 jersey. It was set up to be a great event and it ended up being a fantastic celebration.
Warriors legends of the past, including teammates and coaches of Mullin, were all in attendance. Mullin’s speech was more of a tribute to the organization, his teammates and the “greatest fans” for being with him throughout his career. It was a great night until after the speech when co-owner Joe Lacob decided to speak.
I sat there and was amazed as a small set of boos turned into a crescendo when Lacob tried to address the crowd. I didn’t boo but I looked around and a part of me felt that the booing was done only because everyone else was doing it. It got so loud that I couldn’t hear half the things that were said into the microphone that followed.
“Now that we got that over with,” said Lacob after the first set started to die down.
Then the boos started all over again. Several fans chanted “We want Monta” and I knew that it would only get worse from there.
This is what 18 years of frustration does to a loyal fan base. Every year the fan base unloads money to the organization to attend games and hope that the team gets better. But in return, almost every season ends in disappointment and the fans can’t take it.
Lacob promised the Warriors the playoffs yet the team is going in the opposite direction. The team traded their best player in Monta Ellis for an injured Andrew Bogut. Ownership continues to tell the fans that things will get better but don’t produce results. It’s been all talk with no delivery.
(Granted, the Ellis trade and the other two the Warriors made last week actually weren’t bad trades at all. But once again, the fans are forced to wait to see how it will turn out. There hasn’t been any immediate productivity from it. The fans are sick of waiting.)
And it just wasn’t the stuff Lacob had failed to deliver. It was the numerous missed opportunities in years past during the NBA draft. It was the inability to keep key free agents like Gilbert Arenas and Baron Davis. It was the constant changes in head coaches. It was the numerous mistakes that Chris Cohan made while he had control.
Despite Mullin’s efforts to calm the fans and Rick Barry’s stern disciplinary tone, it was not enough to heal the pain. It was 18 years of frustration that finally came out from a community that cares so much about its team.
“The fans are upset I guess that we traded one of our favorites,” Lacob said after the game. “That’s all I can attribute that to. What I feel bad about is they kind of ruined a night that was very special. The organization really tried to do the right thing with Chris.”
Actually, both the fans and Lacob ruined the night for Mullin. Booing like that was uncalled for and it was embarrassing. But none of it would have happened had Lacob not taken center stage.
Why would Lacob, who was never part of Mullin’s professional career, feel that he needed to speak after Mullin’s speech? Was it necessary to get on the microphone to show all the fans that you had the money to give Mullin and his family a vacation?
Lacob had no business to speak. The celebration should have ended with Mullin’s speech and the unveiling of the retired jersey. Instead, Lacob wanted to get his last say and end the show on his terms. He forced the fans to a detour from memory lane back onto the road of harsh reality.
The co-owner could have just stayed in the stands and watched like a fan. He could have given Mullin the gift backstage. Instead, he wanted one more opportunity to show his face and make it about him. What it ended up being was 20,000 frustrated fans that were sick of all the empty promises.
The Warriors fans had no excuse to act that way last night — but they had every reason to do it. Lacob didn’t have to speak, yet he ended up stealing the spotlight. Both sides were wrong in their actions on Monday and it ruined a beautiful night. It was just another chapter in the misery of the Warriors and how far they’ve slipped away from the success they once had with Mullin, the man they celebrated.
** I know this ownership is making all the efforts they can to get the Warriors on the right track and I believe this recent trade is the right move. This team is heading in the right direction. But until Lacob, Peter Guber and the rest of the organization produces results, fans will continue to remain impatient.