Tony Avelar/APJust a few years after being booed at Oracle Arena

Balls: Lacob is toast of The Town

Oakland — Only years after Warriors owner Joe Lacob was booed at Oracle Arena, he was Joe Cool on Wednesday night.

The Warriors won their first Western Conference championship in 40 years, and all was forgotten between between Lacob and some of the most passionate fans in basketball.

Lacob toasted them no fewer than three times — with Champagne, tequila shots and finally Pespi.

“I'm ecstatic for them,” Lacob said. “I was a fan here, too, people have to understand — from the '80s, you know. So I've been in that position. I know what they've gone through. This team wasn't very good for a long, long time.”

So where did the thrill rank outside family events.

“Wait — you don't think this tops that?” Jacob joked to Balls.

But seriously…

“No, it was great,” Lacob went on to say. “I mean, I feel so good … People don't understand that it takes so many to make this happen — all your employees, management, coaches, players, owners.”

SO LONG, COWARD: After Houston Rockets goon Dwight Howard massaged his face with a forearm blow in Game 4 of the conference finals, the Warriors' Andrew Bogut could have changed his name to “Three Shots for a Dollar” on the back of his uniform. The blow to the head warranted a one-game suspension, but the NBA ruled the hard contact was unintentional because, you know, Howard is alleged to be a star player.

The short-sighted decision cost the Warriors one more time, because Howard was at it again in the series clincher on Wednesday night.

In the fourth quarter, Howard drove a forearm into Andre Iguodala on a pick play. Iguodala clutched his left shoulder with what he called “just a little stinger” as he ran off the court. He was able to stay in the game.

Bogut gained some semblance of revenge late in the second period, when Howard was whistled for his seventh technical foul of the season, which included an automatic one-game suspension. Bogut also was T'd up on the play.

The Rockets likely would have asked the league to rescind the technical foul, but that became a moot point after they were eliminated from the postseason. And for the health of the rest of the league, not a moment too soon, either.

BUT WHO'S COUNTING?: Bogut did not score in the final 126 minutes, 36 seconds of the series — that's more than two hours — but his presence was felt in other ways.

In the final game, Bogut had 14 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 19 minutes.

“It was all right,” Bogut said of the heavyweight bout. “It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was what I expected.”

LEAVE THE SLEEVE: The Warriors' Stephen Curry avoided a catastrophic injury on his header the other night, but he didn't come away unscathed. He wore a sleeve to protect a bruise on his right or shooting elbow, but he took it off late in the third period.

“My whole right side took the brunt of that force and my head,” Curry said after a shootaround on Wednesday morning.”My whole right side took the brunt of that force — and my head. It's basically like a bruise all the way up and down your body that you've just got to deal with.”

Curry may be hurt more than he cares to admit. In the first half, he shot 4 of 12 in the field and even missed a free throw.

PETER DEWHO?: Balls isn't quite sure whether the Sharks will play with a goaltender next season, but it's nice to know that they will have a head coach at least.

Today the San Jose Hockey Country Club will announce Peter DeBoer as the next man up (football-hockey term). In this case, he's more like the next coach down. The SJHCC wouldn't be a serious contender even with the great Scotty Bowman at the controls, and they sure aren't gonna be one with a guy who finished higher than fourth place only once in seven seasons.

The Sharks are in need of a major rebuild, hardly the kind of situation that attracts established coaches, but general manager Doug Wilson doesn't see it that way. So rather than hire a younger coach who can develop less experienced players, he brought in an older one who does his best work with veteran talent. The 46-year-old DeBoer proved as much with the New Jersey Devils three years ago, when they made an unlikely Stanley Cup Finals run.

Wilson will be judged mostly by what he does in the trade and free-agent markets this off-season, but he's off to a shaky start.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to and you may get your name in the paper one day.

Balls: Paul LadewskiGolden State WarriorsJames HardenStephen Curry

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