Editor’s note: Rick Barry played eight seasons for the Warriors and was the captain of their only Bay Area NBA championship team. In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His commentary will appear exclusively in The San Francisco Examiner for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs
Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement on March 20, 2012, was supposed to be an evening spent honoring Chris for his many notable accomplishments as a player for the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, some disrespectful fans, displeased with recent trades and other personnel decisions, decided to use this special night for their own selfish purposes.
Each time Warriors owner Joe Lacob tried to address the crowd and recognize Mullin, he was booed mercilessly and unable to be heard above the noise. These raucous, insolent fans finally relented and Lacob was able to finish what was otherwise a special and memorable ceremony. The night, however, had been marred by these individuals and their unduly harsh actions.
Those fans should be feeling pretty foolish right about now. So, too, should the numerous media who questioned his knowledge of the game and his commitment to the Warriors’ faithful following.
Lacob has deftly guided the franchise to the best record in the NBA and more notably to the precipice of a possible league championship. He has purposefully surrounded himself with highly competent staff members who have used their experience and expertise to make the right decisions.
General manager Bob Meyers, well-trained by former general manager Larry Riley, possesses a strong basketball background as a player at UCLA. His understanding of the game, his knowledge from being a former sports agent and his law background make for an ideal combination of talents.
As if Meyers’ credentials weren’t solid enough, Lacob spent additional money to hire Hall of Famer Jerry West as a consultant. West, the successful GM of the Los Angeles Lakers for many years, is undeniably one of the best there is at identifying talent. Add Rick Welts, president and COO, who was trained by the NBA and is one of the most savvy marketers in the business. And finally, the untested Steve Kerr proved to be a great hire. A disciple of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, two of the best head coaches in league history, as well as a former NBA player himself, Steve has the knowledge, the passion and the communication skills to get the most from his players.
West was hired in May 2011, prior to that year’s draft. Who did the Warriors select in the first round? Klay Thompson, a future All-Star who plays both ends of the court. In the 2012 draft, they took Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, along with Draymond Green in the second round. These four players are critical components of the team’s success this season.
West was not in favor of a possible deal for Kevin Love that would have required giving up Thompson and David Lee, another contributor for this team. The once unpopular decision to trade Monta Ellis, a fan favorite, for Andrew Bogut and retain Stephen Curry has also been validated beyond a doubt.
At a time when numerous franchises require many years if not decades to reach elite status, Lacob has done a remarkable job growing this franchise into a legitimate contender in a relatively short period of time. Not only does he truly want to bring another NBA championship to the Bay Area, but he has displayed the drive and the acumen to do it.
So, to all those ill-mannered, uninformed, short-sighted individuals who vilified Lacob just three short years ago, I simply say, what do you think of him now?
Rick Barry can be followed on Twitter @Rick24Barry and www.rickbarry24.com.