SBD/March 20, 2012/Franchises

Warriors Owner Joe Lacob Booed During Mullin Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Mullin (r) put arm around Lacob and told fans to be patient with Warriors organization
The Warriors retired Basketball HOFer Chris Mullin's No. 17 jersey last night, but the tribute "took a terribly ugly turn when Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob grabbed the microphone," according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. After 30 minutes of "loud cheers and standing ovations for anyone and everyone associated with the Warriors, Lacob got roundly booed" for trading G Monta Ellis to the Bucks last week. Mullin and fellow Basketball HOFer Rick Barry "tried to calm and shame the disapproving crowd," but every time Lacob started talking, the "angry boos returned with more vigor." It was "reminiscent of the 2000 All-Star Game scene when then-owner Chris Cohan was booed as he appeared with his son" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Marc Spears notes Lacob "stopped his speech for Mullin after the monsoon of boos drowned him out." Mullin eventually "walked over to Lacob, put his arm around him and whispered into his ear." Mullin said to the fans, "Sometimes change is inevitable, and it’s going to be just fine with your support and patience." Warriors analyst Tom Tolbert described the scene as "awkward, uncomfortable." Tolbert: "It wasn’t about Lacob, it wasn’t about Monta or direction, it was about honoring the past. And instead, it turned into a condemnation of the Warriors and trading Monta." When asked if he was surprised by the fans’ reaction, Lacob said, "Wouldn’t you be?" Lacob after the game said, "Fans are upset that we traded one of their favorites. That’s all I can attribute that to. What I feel bad about is they ruined a night that was very special. The organization really tried to do the right thing" for Mullin (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/20).

NIGHT WON'T BE FORGOTTEN: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes the night will "never be forgotten -- surely not by Lacob, not by [coach] Mark Jackson, not by the Warriors staffers who all seemed stunned, not by the handful of players who were on the court at the time." Either Lacob "has the stuff to move past this sea of rage, and beat it back ... or he doesn't." Kawakami writes, "The initial indication: Lacob did just fine. He didn't quail. He got visibly mad, but he didn't duck for cover. He went back out to his courtside seat in the second half. He kept clapping and cheering for all to see." But Lacob "didn't deserve THAT treatment." He is not Cohan, and if fans "were torturing him for the Monta Ellis trade, he really didn't deserve that, because it's a good far-sighted trade." When asked about his reaction to Lacob being booed, Jackson said, "Can't wait. Knowing him, knowing his commitment, knowing his passion ... the day is going to come where he's truly appreciated around here" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/20).

GETTING THE PICTURE: ESPN.com's Ethan Sherwood Strauss writes Warriors fans are "grappling with a few finalities." This season "is done." Monta "is gone, probably forever." Promises have "yet to yield anything but more promises." Strauss writes, "People are passionate in Oakland, and it's going to be visceral and unadulterated or it's not going to be. ... These same people will also cheer Lacob if he takes a punch, stays public and starts winning. This is why I will not hand-wring over a rich man getting publicly tweaked. If you have respect for Lacob, any respect at all, then you believe he can absorb such criticism without shrinking into a fetal clench" (ESPN.com, 3/20). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote now maybe Lacob "gets the picture." Now maybe he "understands that the history of the franchise doesn’t get sliced up into portions depending on the identity of the owner." 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." Ratto wrote, "This wasn’t just Monta Ellis-trade booing either. This was all of it, unleashed by a fan base that knows how badly it has been taken advantage of over the years." Lacob can "save face, or at least some of it, by taking this moment and touring the stands for the next few games, explaining to any and all that undoing the rancid past is more like turning an ocean liner than backing out of a driveway." He has to "let the fans vent in smaller groups, or even individually" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 3/19).

LOCATION NEGOTIATION: In North Dakota, Lou Babiarz reports the NBA D-League Dakota Wizards will be "meeting with city officials within the next week to discuss the team’s future in Bismarck." Wizards GM Kirk Lacob said that the meeting is "tentatively scheduled for Friday, although it may be postponed to early next week." When the Warriors "purchased the Wizards last June, they announced that the team would remain in Bismarck" for the '11-12 season. After that, the Warriors "planned to evaluate whether to relocate the Wizards." The Wizards’ contract with the Civic Center extends through the '12-13 season, although "there is a buyout clause." Specifics of the meeting are also "sketchy, although Lacob said two issues to be addressed are scoreboards and sponsors" (BISMARCK TRIBUNE, 3/20).
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