Wait, remind me again: Was this Chris Mullin Night, or Chris Cohan Night?
A packed house picked the wrong time to be unruly when a ceremony designed to honor one of the all-time Warriors greats turned into an Oakland Raiders game. The way the Warriors fans ruined it for Mullin was shameful and disrespectful. The way they booed the wrong owner, someone who’s willing to move the franchise beyond the decade-long debacle overseen by the old owner, Cohan, was misguided.
Here’s what happened: Mullin’s jersey was retired Monday night in a long-anticipated ceremony. Mullin was and is one of the great inspirations in the game, someone who overcame alcoholism early in his career to become a truly great shooter, the face of the Warriors and eventually, a Hall of Famer. He had his family, and his brother’s family, along with a number of former teammates and coaches along for the moment. And quite understandably, the applause for Mullin was thick and warm.
And then, Joe Lacob, the new owner of the Warriors, decided to take the mic and speak. For this, he was booed. Heavily. Loudly. And constantly. It was tough to watch, but even more, it left you wondering: Why?
You could understand if it was Cohan, who ran the team poorly during his tenure from 1995-2010, made questionable decisions and saw the Warriors turn to dust on his Rolex. But this was Lacob. He’s a basketball guy. He’s a basketball fan. He’s the one who’s coming to the rescue. His wealth is only surpassed by his passion for the game and his willingness to turn the franchise around. He’s a guy many believe overpaid for the Warriors, but that’s OK with him, because he wanted to be dealt in. That’s how badly he wanted to be at the owners’ table, and good for him.
Obviously, the fans are still in a huff over the Monta Ellis trade, and took their frustrations out on Lacob. He acknowledged as much after the game, telling Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears:
Look, fans are upset that we traded one of their favorites,” Lacob said after the Warriors’ 97-93 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. “That’s all I can attribute that to. What I feel bad about is they ruined a night that was very special. The organization really tried to do the right thing for with Chris.
“I feel good that we did that. I felt bad for Chris more than anything else.”
Lacob initially tried to talk over the boos at the beginning of his speech from the floor of Oracle Arena. “Now that we got that over with,” he said, only it wasn’t over. The fans started chanting, “We want Monta,” and the boos became louder. Lacob tried to use his notes to continue speaking, but each hesitation brought only more jeers. Finally overwhelmed 45 seconds into his speech, Lacob went silent.
“I was hoping they would stop so I could get the nice words out that we prepared for Chris,” Lacob said. “They didn’t want to stop. So I just waited.”
In the process of booing Lacob, Golden State fans will have their basketball IQ seriously questioned because of it.
Put it this way: New York fans wouldn’t have booed. They would’ve cheered. They know a good deal when they see it, and while there is a degree of risk in any deal, it’s always good when you can get a big — in this case, Andrew Bogut — for a small. Sure, Bogut needs to be healthy for next season and beyond, but the Warriors gave up a volume shooter (OK, also promising-but-raw big man Ekpe Udoh) for someone who can rebound, defend and pass from the post. When’s the last time the Warriors had that kind of center?
The best move of the night belonged to Mullin (no surprise there), who put a protective arm around Lacob when the boos escalated. Mullin is the rare shooter who also knows when to lend an assist. Maybe the fans should do the same.