March 19, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors owners Joe Lacob waits for fans to stop booing during the half time ceremony to retire the #17 jersey of Chris Mullin at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The rage has been pent up for so long, and it was finally released. Was the timing horrible? Yes. Did the boos signal the end of the world? Quite the opposite.
Monday night was supposed to be about Chris Mullin's jersey retirement, but instead it was the night Golden State Warriors fans hit rock-bottom. Don't worry, I'm not going to shove Rick Barry-brand hair plugs into my forehead and start lecturing the paying customers. This is SB Nation, a site that's full of content by fans, for fans.
In the grand scheme, Golden State fans have suffered much more than Golden State owners. Warriors backers can put their pain from the past 35 years of ineptitude against anyone's. It's not surprising they went crazy on Lacob the other night; it's surprising it took them this long to voice their displeasure.
Oracle Arena patrons came under fire from the judgment police after booing Joe Lacob loudly enough that his words were rendered incomprehensible. To watch a YouTube video or a clip on television doesn't do the booing justice. The lights were down, increasing the impact exponentially. It was a strange mixture. How will Lacob react? What does Mullin think about his night devolving into this? How will Rick Barry's scolding make things better?
Thankfully, no one hurled objects onto the court or screamed anything too inflammatory, although the decibel level went up more than a few notches when a fan shouted, "WE WANT MONTA." Still, as halftime came to a close and the lights came back on, the Warriors' dirty laundry was strewn everywhere. Embarrassing? Sure. Catastrophic? More like cathartic.
Before Monday night, Warriors fans were known for being loyal to a fault. Whenever the Warriors accomplished anything positive, from winning a playoff game to taking a lead in the second quarter, the fans went berserk. When nothing happened at all, the fans cheerfully climbed back up the aisles and out of the Arena with 90 seconds remaining in another comfortable loss.
I've wondered for years: why aren't Warriors fans angrier, or at least more apathetic? Now that they've shown everyone this level of disapproval, perhaps things can start to change. Some Warriors fans -- both people in attendance on Monday and those who watched the action from their homes -- feel like the boos were warranted because they represented a reaction to every bad Warriors transaction Bill Simmons recently listed. Others were simply mortified, calling the boos classless. Whatever side you're on, your anger with the Warriors' place in the NBA probably isn't as intense now as it was before Monday night.
Lacob's Reality Check
Current Warriors' ownership has been in a bubble since Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team from Chris Cohan. At a season ticketholder event before the season, the pair, along with Jerry West and Mark Jackson, talked about big plans and modern entertainment concepts to frequent bursts of applause -- and this was back in September before anyone knew if there would even be a season.
Fans never got a chance to directly respond to Cohan's dreadful reign, unless you count the 2000 All-Star Game. Because the fans have been so polite, Lacob probably had no idea they'd react the way they did on Monday -- especially when all he wanted to do was retire Mullin's number and give him a week-long trip to Maui (an interesting choice for the ultimate retirement gift, but not the reason why Lacob was booed).
Lacob may have figured that all Warriors fans needed was a release from the grip of Darth Cohan. Warriors fans, tired of yet another losing season full of broken promises followed by more shaky promises, finally showed Lacob that trust and winning percentage are inextricably linked.
The owner, now presumably a bit humbler, can't rest on mindless loyalty from the region. The fans, now presumably shocked by the power of their own voices (the Warriors finally got on SportsCenter!), can go to bed knowing that Lacob finally felt the kind of pain that stems watching this team flounder since the late 1970s.
The new ownership group still has time to prove they'll undo what prior owners did, and the fans finally proved they aren't satisfied with awful, ineffectual basketball produced by apathetic players, coaches and owners. The easy summary would be to proclaim there's nowhere to go but up, and that could be true. Then again, this is the Warriors we're talking about.