Warriors Co-Owner Joe Lacob Discusses Fans' Booing During Monday Ceremony
Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob yesterday discussed being booed by fans during Basketball HOFer Chris Mullin's jersey retirement ceremony and said, "Things happen sometimes and it’s not really clear the reason." He said, "I don't think any of us expected it. Maybe we should've, but we didn't really expect that reaction." Lacob appeared on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's "Chronicle Live" program and watched video of the ceremony for the first time. Lacob: "It’s uncomfortable to watch. It was pretty uncomfortable at the moment, as well, and all I could remember during it was I wish they'd stop so I could just honor Chris because that's what we're here to do." Asked what he thought the boos represented, Lacob answered, "I obviously think there's some frustration with the trade that occurred [last] week. Monta Ellis was one of our most popular players … (but with) 20 years of history not making the playoffs, a lot of different things going on. It's just hard to say." He added, "I don't know anyone out there has been in the situation like I was last night. I don't know that anyone can get used to a situation where you have 20,000 people, or at least it sounded like 20,000 people, booing you." But Lacob said, "We don’t hold it against the fans that they booed. I didn't enjoy it, certainly, it was very uncomfortable but it is what it is and the fans, I still believe, are the greatest fans in the world and I certainly hope that they'll just bear with us and understand we're trying to make a lot of improvements and trying to improve this team and trying to get us to the promised land." Discussing working to improve the team, Lacob said, “Money is not an object, commitment is not an object. We are going to make it happen." But he conceded there "probably will be more booing before there's cheering." He added, "We're committed to making this happen and if we have to take a few hits, and me in particular, we'll take a few hits but we're going to get there" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 3/20).
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME: ESPN.com's J.A. Adande said Warriors fans are "entitled to voice" their opinion, as “no group has had better support than them for as bad (a product) the Warriors have put out there." Adande: "However, that does not entitle them to ruin Chris Mullin’s night” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/20). NBA TV's Matt Winer said, "This is the absolute wrong venue to voice their opinion." NBA TV's Dennis Scott said, "You would think a little more respect would come out. ... It's unfortunate to see Chris Mullin on his day to get his number retired to hear all of those boos." NBA TV's Steve Smith: "Obviously, they didn't like what was going on, whether it was the trade, whether it was the ownership, and they feel they wanted to express it at that time. Not the right time." Smith added if GM Larry Riley "would have grabbed that microphone, he would have got the same" ("Inside The NBA," TNT, 3/19). CSNBayArea.com’s Ray Ratto said fans did not “forget what happened before” Lacob and co-Owner Peter Guber bought the team, because “you buy their history.” CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz said, “You cannot praise and want Warrior fans to be Warrior fans with all that passion and then not have that part of it (Monday) night. You get both.” Ratto noted the fans “have put up with awfulness almost unremitting for 35 years." Ratto: "They don’t have anywhere else to vent their anger.” Steinmetz: “The thing that was surprising was how long it lasted. That to me was the issue” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 3/20).
SHOULD LACOB HAVE EVEN BEEN OUT THERE? In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes it was "inexcusably rude for the Warriors' fans to ruin Chris Mullin's halftime ceremony with such relentless booing." It took "some guts for Lacob to stand out there in the first place." Some wondered why he would even "consider sharing the ceremonial spotlight, but Lacob earned the right." Mullin had "soured on the Warriors after leaving his general manager's post, to the point where he avoided Oracle Arena at all costs, and Lacob spearheaded the reach-out process that made Mullin feel welcome again." Jenkins: "Good for Mullin and Rick Barry, both of whom felt compelled to grab the microphone and chastise the mob" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/21). But L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said of the Warriors, "They had to know their owner was going to be booed. They had to know he was that unpopular … and shouldn’t have sent him out there.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said the team's marketing department "should have known to have the ceremony before the trading deadline,” and the team should not have “brought the owner out there” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/20). SportsNet N.Y.'s Jonas Schwartz said, "I don't know why the owner speaks at a night like that, but who knows?” WFAN-AM's Joe Benigno: “Can you imagine Jim Dolan making a speech in the middle of Madison Square Garden?” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 3/20).
WORKING LATE: The AP noted Lacob "worked into the wee hours of Tuesday morning to return 'hundreds' of emails in the wake of a stunning display by typically well-behaved Bay Area fans." Lacob said that of the "hundreds of emails he received after the alarming boo-fest, 'every single one of them has been supportive.'" The video clip of the halftime ceremony had "generated nearly" 50,000 views on YouTube by midday yesterday (AP, 3/20).