He tried. Lord, did Draymond Green try to take over a championship celebration as if drunk on something, certainly himself. On a glorious day beneath blue-and-golden skies that perfectly struck the Warriors’ color scheme, he stood in an interview area and mumbled and bumbled through a Cleveland-dissing, Bay Area-loving rap. This came after he left his parade bus to pour champagne over shrieking fans. For a moment, I had a flashback to a Chicago Bulls parade from the ’90s.
Was he pulling a Dennis Rodman, without the feather boa and hair dye?
“We world champions. We did it and it’s our league. And we run this,” he lyricized. “And we did it for the Bay. And we gonna do it again for the Bay. Cause we rep the Bay. The Bay Area’s team. We run this. All right.”
He noticed Klay Thompson standing beside him. “Klay Thompson? Yep. Splash Brothers? Yep. Cavaliers? Nope. We won? Yep. They suck? Yeah. We here? Yeah. They here? No.”
As the famously quiet Thompson watched, Green then introduced a tandem that just about exploded our remaining brain cells: Mama Green, meet Beast Mode.
“I always told Draymond, a man who doesn’t work doesn’t eat,” said Mary Babers-Green, she of the spicy Twitter feed and protective maternal instincts.
“Can I give you a hug?” countered football star Marshawn Lynch, putting his ongoing media boycott on pause to salute his pal, Green, and his hometown, Oakland. “I joke with him, I tell him that he’s my son. He plays like a little Baby Beast Mode.”
On and on the trio yapped Friday, dominating social-media commentary about a massive civic party saluting this franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years. But amazingly enough, Baby Beast Mode, Mama Green and Beast Mode did not steal the show.
Joe Lacob did, shouting all the way.
He is new at this CHAMPIONSHIP BUSINESS, so as we make appointments with OUR EAR DOCTORS, please try to understand that the team’s owner probably had NO IDEA he was AS LOUD AND DEMONSTRATIVE as he was on the podium in front of THE GREATEST FANS IN THE WORLD!!!
But he was.
And you know what? No one booed.
Oh, someone yelled, “Keep us in Oakland.” And someone else shouted, “Don’t let Draymond go,” referring to Green’s impending restricted free agency. But remember the boos three years who, when Lacob spoke to the Oracle Arena crowd after trading Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut and had to be rescued from the backlash by Chris Mullin and Rick Barry? Those catcalls are in the past, replaced by polite applause.
“They say life is about experiences,” Lacob began. “And I’m not sure that any people can say they’ve been booed by 20,000 people and cheered by a million people in a period of three years. That’s an experience.”
If he had thanked the players, coaches and front-office staff and said goodbye right there, it would have been a cool stopping point. No one ever really loves a sports owner, merely tolerating him when he wins. But Lacob kept right on talking, and why not? His life was defined by those boos, and now, in quick order, his life is defined by a championship with a franchise that seemed incapable of such glory.
“Dreams can come true, and in achieving dreams, one needs a goal. And our goal, 1,471 days from the first time we had a day at the Coliseum with this ownership group, we won a championship,” he said. “That night — Nov. 15, 2010 — we pointed to the lonely banner up in the rafters at Oracle and said, ‘We need another one.’ And we delivered another one. I emphasize the word ‘we’ because, the truth of the matter is, we did only a couple of things. We bought the team, made some big promises — fortunately, we delivered on those — and we picked some great people.”
It was at this point that Lacob started sounding like a politician at a rally. Indirectly, that’s exactly what he was, rallying the Bay Area around him for his prospective new arena in San Francisco. The Move wasn’t mentioned on this day, thankfully, but the challenge ahead, as the Warriors pursue more titles, is to not alienate Oakland and the East Bay when the operation moves across the Bay Bridge in three or so years, local politics permitting. Unlike the baseball and football scenes in the Bay Area, where the Giants/A’s and 49ers/Raiders have divided fan bases, the Warriors are Everyone’s Team. Lacob wants to keep it that way via on-court success, but it also helps to have the political skids greased, which explained why the mayors of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose all were present, as well as Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom and the like.
Blocks away, Oakland police were investigating shootings that left three male victims with gunshot wounds. Though not necessarily related to the parade and rally, it was another blow to a city that was hoping to use the Warriors as a showcase for a renaissance. Instead, it was a reminder of the violence that usually grabs headlines here, along with the protests and corruption. If this was a love letter from Lacob to Oakland — which conceivably could lose all three of its sports teams in coming years — the Warriors did the day up right.
With the power players sitting on stage as his captive audience, Lacob struck the pose of a preacher. “Our biggest partner out here is you guys,” he said, talking to the fans. “You ARE the greatest fans in the world. YOU ARE!!!”
“We have a relentless pursuit of excellence. And today we are WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!”
“Steve Kerr and his staff ARE AWESOME!!! Steve never wants the credit. There isn’t a better coach in basketball than Steve Kerr, I can tell you that after ONE YEAR!!!”
“Bob Myers, EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR!!! He is a superstar.”
“Rick Welts and his great staff … IS ORACLE A GOOD EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU COME TO A WARRIORS GAME? THAT’S RICK WELTS. SPORTS BUSINESS’ TEAM OF THE YEAR!!!”
He piped down for a moment when addressing his fiancee, Nicole. “Not only is she the best dressed, she puts up with the 365/24/7 insanity that is the organization,” he said, turning around to look at her.
But then, there was one final salute to “THE BEST FANS IN THE WORLD.” Pausing for effect, Joe Lacob looked into the crowd and said, “Guys, THIS WAS NO ACCIDENT. Nothing about this was an accident. AND IT WILL NOT BE AN ACCIDENT WHEN WE DO IT AGAIN!!!’’
There is it, the Pat Riley guarantee, to be thrown back in Lacob’s face if the Warriors don’t win again. As co-owner Peter Guber said, while mentioning something about an Uber ride alone not getting him to the parade, “Enjoy this moment, suck it in. It’s an elixir that quickly evaporates.” But the thing is, they have a chance to win again, and no one seems to be shying from it. Green is obsessed by it, in fact.
Calling Kerr up to the stage, he said, rambling all the way, “My rook has five championships prior to this. This is my guy. From the start of training camp, he hated me. That’s no lie. Probably still hates me. That’s no lie. But we’re going to keep winning championships. That’s no lie.”
Said Kerr, with perfect deadpan timing, “You know how they play the music at the Oscars when the guy speaking takes too long? That may happen in a few minutes to Draymond.” That’s no lie, either. As Green said, the team’s public-relations department wasn’t keen on him speaking at the rally.
It was Stephen Curry who spoke last. Typically, he said he would keep his remarks brief after so much posing and preening.
“I kind of want to do this again,” he said.
He put the microphone in front of Riley, his would-famous daughter.
This time, she had nothing to say.
The silence was golden.