You’ve heard it before. No good deed goes unpunished. What the man who owns the Warriors heard was a backlash of boos, which while reprehensible, also was understandable.
Joe Lacob has the keys to a kingdom he is trying to upgrade. The team is a work in progress. Patience is needed, we’ve been told.
Patience is a rare quality among sports fans, especially when their hero was been traded, especially when the home team looks awful in the first half, as did the Warriors on Monday night against Minnesota.
It was Chris Mullin’s evening at Oracle Arena. His No. 17 was being retired. Memories blended with cheers, until Lacob, whose money financed the ceremony, stood at center court to speak.
Then the crowd turned so nasty not even pleas from Mullin or the great Rick Barry had any effect.
“I was a little bit stunned that it went on as long as it did or as loud as it was,” Lacob told radio station KNBR on Tuesday. “Last night was not easy. This is what we wanted.”
He meant the festivities, which called down the echoes, with former Warriors such as Barry, Tom Meschery, Tom Tolbert, Nate Thurmond and Sarunas Marciulionis in attendance. He didn’t mean the derision.
Lacob has been a fan for a long while. He has been an owner, in conjunction with Peter Guber, only two years. You cringe to say Lacob was naive, but that’s exactly what he was.
Out there on the floor, he wasn’t dealing with venture capitalists, he was being yelled at by guys seeking a way to express their displeasure, guys who may have had a brew or two during the first half.
Timing is everything. The timing for Lacob was unfortunate, only a week since the Warriors traded Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for a 7-foot center, Andrew Bogut, who is touted as the future, but because of a broken ankle, is contributing nothing to the present.
The trade made sense. The Warriors were losing with Monta, so they might as well lose without him. Maybe a year from now, the reaction of the fans would be different. Maybe not.
Lacob should remember 49ers owner John York was booed at Candlestick Park during ceremonies for Jerry Rice. Fans are not particularly selective in their disapproval.
The Mullin ceremony and thus the reaction to Lacob were on CSN Bay Area and, of course, picked up Tuesday morning by ESPN. The Bay Area’s image of kindness and gentility took another to the solar plexus.
Peyton Manning signing with Denver? The world knew that. What it didn’t know was Northern California has a mean streak as wide as the one across the Golden Gate.
Barry, who in his playing days for the Warriors grew accustomed to being taunted, described the fans as “classless.” Tolbert, the KNBR co-host, said they “embarrassed the whole evening.”
Not really. Not the whole evening. They just added an off-key coda to a half-hour of sweet music. Once a few spectators booed, a majority of spectators booed. It was viral. It was normal.
Maybe Lacob should have started the observance, not closed it. In show business, the rule is to have the audience screaming for more. Monday night, regrettably, it was screaming for Joe Lacob’s head.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.