New Warriors owners out to revive lagging franchise, more mail
New Warriors owner Joe Lacob believes he bought the franchise for a fair price
He's out to prove that his ownership team wants to work with its players
From the mailbag: Kobe Bryant's comments on owners, Joe Dumars' GM record
Much has been said of the record $450 million purchase of the Warriors by Joe Lacob, Peter Guber and their partners, which is $49 million more than the previous record purchase of a team, held by Robert Sarver when he bought the Suns in 2004.
Hefty price tag aside, the new Warriors owners bought the franchise at the right time.
While most NBA teams claim to be losing money at the moment, the owners are optimistic that a new collective bargaining agreement will change that ink from red to black. Their view: When the new rules are negotiated and installed after this season, owners will be positioned to break even or turn a profit, and as a result, franchise values will begin to rise.
So it makes sense to invest before the prices go up. If you're going to buy an NBA team, the best time is now.
"I'm not supposed to comment on the CBA, but you might have a valid point there," said Lacob, who will have the final say in all of the Warriors' day-to-day decisions. "I've looked at franchises for a long time -- I was a part-owner of the Celtics, and I think I know what the value is and I know how to compare the values of different franchises in other sports. I'm comfortable saying we paid a fair price and that we will increase the value over time substantially."
Lacob lives near Stanford University, where he earned an MBA. He has stepped back from his managing partnership of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Bay Area venture capital firm, in order to devote most of his time to running the Warriors.
"I try not to comment too much on the previous administration, and [former owner Chris Cohan], in particular," Lacob said. "But making the playoffs once in 16 years is unacceptable to the fans, to everybody here."
The Bay Area's basketball passion emerged during the Warriors' lone playoff series victory of Cohan's ownership, the 2007 upset of the top-seeded Mavericks, when the fans' relentless cheering turned Oracle Arena into the league's noisiest gym. Lacob talks of creating a style that marries the current Celtics' defensive toughness with the up-tempo style of the '80s Lakers.
"I don't want to overpromise, and certainly, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "But I will say that I think we have made some changes in the offseason here that certainly look like they're having quite a good impact. Our goal is to be a .500 team [this year] and be a relevant team, and our stretch goal would be to make the playoffs. I think it's possible."
Lacob made an unexpected impact when he held his private plane in Chicago last Thursday in order to rush forward David Lee back to the Bay Area for surgery on his left elbow, which had become dangerously infected after it was punctured by Wilson Chandler's tooth the previous night during the Warriors' win in New York.
"It got a little scary in Chicago, so I said that's it, we're going right back to our doctors to have them deal with it," Lacob said. "It is an unusual and unexpected situation, and a dangerous situation. It does make an argument for whether there should be a mandatory rule for mouthguards in the NBA."
Lacob hopes to learn from the example of a diverse group of NBA owners, from Wyc Grousbeck and his partners with the Celtics, to Mark Cuban of the Mavericks, Peter Holt of the Spurs and the Jerry Buss of the Lakers.
Lacob called me on Wednesday, 20 minutes before he was scheduled to meet with the players for the first time.
"I'm addressing the team and I can't wait," he said. "It will be more from the heart, I have nothing planned going in. I'm going to tell them how proud I am to be the new owner here, and I'm very proud they've all come together to get a great start for the team, and I want to make sure they know that, as an ownership group, we're here to provide them with whatever they need. We're all together in this and we're going to win."
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