Why Joe Lacob Got Booed At Chris Mullin’s Jersey Retirement

I thought my first post here would be an analytical look at Linsanity, or Kevin Durant’s shot selection, or Carmelo Anthony’s usage rate.  Instead, I’m going to talk about the Golden State Warriors.

If you haven’t seen Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob get mercilessly booed during Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony, you really should.  Watching it live on TV, I felt so awkward, for Lacob, for Mullin, and for the entire situation itself, that I had to change the channel.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that Lacob got booed for trading away the Warriors’ best and most popular player, Monta Ellis, for oft-injured but sometimes productive big man Andrew Bogut and the homecoming of Stephen Jackson the aging, but very pricey Richard Jefferson.  Warriors fans responded with anger, despite the fact that Ellis isn’t very efficient in scoring, having a high usage rate and high entertainment value, but having average effective field goal percentage.

While there’s no doubt this contributed to the initial jeers, I think the sustained booing came primarily from Lacob’s inability to diffuse the situation through demeanor.

He could have ignored the initial boos.  He could have plowed through his canned speech like a seasoned politician.  He could have at least smiled.

Instead, what we saw was a rich guy waiting to be recognized, waiting for his words to be respected because, well, he’s rich and he owns the team.  He waited eight seconds just to begin speaking, only to convey his disgust at not receiving that respect by muttering, “Now that we’ve got that over with…”

Living in the Bay Area, you immediately realize this about Joe Lacob: he talks a lot.  But in this one minute of start-and-stop speech, you come to a slightly different realization: that Joe Lacob talks a lot to feed his ego, to hear himself speak.

But when you combine this with the Warriors’ recent front office moves, you can’t help but conclude that Lacob talks a big game, but doesn’t have the competence to back it up.

And this is why I think the Warriors fans booed: they’re tired of talk.  They want to see smart moves and good management.  Less talk, more doing.  And so far, Andrew Bogut doesn’t fit that bill for many fans.

In fact, if you’ve read John Hollinger’s review of Golden State’s trade deadline moves, you really start to wonder if the Warriors have the competency to handle the important task of managing the salary cap.  For example, why did the Warriors waste use their amnesty before the season on the Charlie Bell’s modest $4 million salary?  Didn’t they know they could amnesty Andris Biedrins, who makes double that amount per year over three years?  Do they realize Richard Jefferson makes at least $10 million for the next two years?

The last thing Warriors fans wanted was Lacob talking yet again.  And yet that’s exactly what Lacob’s start-and-stop speech forced them to do: to make them listen to him.  That’s why they booed, because Warriors fans can’t stand to hear any more empty words.  They’ve had a steady dose of it for 30 years and counting.

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