As a fan who sees a few games a year live, but all games on the tube, a long time Warriors fan, I came to this game happy to be present for Chris Mullin’s big night, and expecting to see a performance from the ‘new’ post-Monte era Dubs consistent with what I’d seen from the prior performances since Monte and Udoh left the team, so not much.
Everyone seemed to know that Monte was on the block, but most may not have expected Udoh to be lost to the trade, and this hurt, as he was really coming into form with a much more confident and productive offensive game, to add to his excellent defensive and blocking skills, which had given a new post defense presence for the Dubs. And Ephe was putting in a lot more minutes, as Biedrens had marginalized himself, even moreso this season.
The Mully tributes were inspiring and heartfelt, from the teammates of Run TMC and from greats like Magic and Bird, I gained a new perspective on the stature of Mullin, he had earned respect from some of the best ballers the NBA has ever seen. The comments of his diligence, exceptional commitment to conditioning and skills development, well, you could see the pride on the faces of his family, it was quite a testimony to a great athlete and teammate.
Then, Joe Lacob took the mike, and all hell broke loose. Someone posted here that you could not appreciate how intense the negative energy directed toward Lacob was, had you not been present. I agree in spades.
Every time he attempted to speak, to say, ‘that’s enough’ and then try to move on, the waves of boos and catcalls just intensified. I was sitting 13 rows up from the floor, and you could feel the emotion flowing over the top of the upper deck, and gaining intensity as the wave of bad feeling grew and pushed down to center court, the man in the spotlight looked stunned, especially after the initial wave did not die down, but grew even louder. The sounds were unlike any booing I had ever heard at a sports event, just a huge volume of raw emotion. Nothing even close to a fan reaction to a ref’s blown call in a tight game, or a flagrant foul on a home team player, just way above and beyond, truly a monumental display of rage. Like some animal spirits, tortured souls, had been unleashed.
What could account for such a resounding and relentless outpouring of contempt for Lacob. Here are probably just some of the possible elements that lead to this debacle on the night of Mully’s big honoring:
1. Promises had been made, promises were again found to be just words. A promise of a playoff team, and/or a Warrior in the All-Star game. Not happening, so fans pay hard money, support the team and new owner and get nada. The same nada as in the Cohan era, but without the promises.
2. The Dubs had started to show the defense that Coach Malone had come to build, and this had started to pay off, the Dubs had beat two playoff-bound teams, the Champion Mavs and then the Paul/Griffen show, back to back, and were closing in on .500, with some expectation that fans would see a shot at the 8th spot in the West. At least a possibility that Lacob’s promise had a chance.
3. The Trade. Giving up Monte and the emerging presence of Udoh, and getting back very little that would move the Dubs toward the playoffs this year. Giving up your top scorer and best post defender, for Sjax(as it turns out R Jefferson) and no center for a year. So now the Warriors Faithful have extended garbage time to look forward to for the balance of the year. How does that sit with people who had paid to either see an outside chance of playoffs, or failing that, still get to enjoy one of maybe 5 players in the NBA who can make plays that are worthy of highlight reels every time he steps on the court.
Losing a man who had grown up before long time Warriors fans eyes from a wide-eyed 19 year old to become a top 10 scorer and truly a magician with the rock. If you cannot have playoff caliber hoops, you can at least get to enjoy Monte’s exploits, not to mention his incredible endurance and exceptional conditioning and heart. Very few in the league gave as much on the floor as Monte, night in and night out. So you lost that for the balance of 2012-2012 short season, with or without a playoff berth happening.
4. Management handling of the trade. Monte and Ehpe learned of the trade an hour before game time, Jackson was reported as looking stunned as he heard of the trade at the same time. Bogut was interviewed and he said the Bucks had the decency to tell him 12 hours before the trade was made public, just so he didn’t speak of it in public till the details were worked out. To me, kind of cheezy and showing no respect for Monte or Udoh to let them hear of it first off the scroll on ESPN. Also, no follow up at Mully’s night from anyone to recognize Monte’s contribution over the years. Low class handling of the situation, IMHO, especially for the fans who had, at least, to look forward to Monte’s court exploits.
5. Post-Trade Play. The last 4 games coming into the T-Wolves game had been telling, as to what to expect the rest of this season. In fact, the last game showed how weak the offensive game had become, with Monte’s departure, and nothing really in return to pick up the slack from the trade now. 12 points in the first quarter in the prior game, and 14 in the first quarter this game; 32 for the half, wow, that would make any fan depressed, right?
6. Bitch Ankles. What we have here is Bogut with an ankle fracture, and the clear and present fan awareness of another bitch ankle, that would be Curry. Curry’s ankle is an unknown quantity, at least to me, and the first thought I had when I heard of the trade was, who vetted the MRI/CAT scans on Bogut’s ankle ‘cause I hope it wasn’t the same MD’s that worked on Steph and cleared his weak-ass ankle for take off this year. That thing is so wobbly/unstable, everyone has seen the replays of his non-contact re-injuries, so why would fans not be concerned we were giving up an Ironman producer for a risk of another bad team orthopedist call?
7. Almost 2 decades of mediocrity, and yet Dubs fan fill the arena. The price of a seat, of a snack, a drink skyrockets, new owner comes on with big bucks and big promises but performance stays the same. Maybe better next year, but they had all heard that song for too many years coming into this night.
So, in sum, the impressive display of fan rage directed towards the owner was likely born of many disappointments.
As usual, Warriors fans have more promises of great things to come, but on that night, they only had the old memory jogged by seeing Run TMC together again for Mully’s celebration, with all those years since that short but happy time a wasteland of marginal team results, compounded by memories of truly bad trade decisions over these dismal years.
So why should fans not be enraged, given these circumstances?
Lacob should have consulted some fans, or a sports psychologist, or someone, anyone with some common sense, who could have clued him in that arranging the big night for Mully was a fine thing to accomplish, but he should have foregone the center stage right after this trade and laid low till Bogut and Curry were ready to perform, which is likely next year, a long time for extended garbage time for fans for the balance of this year.