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16 Years of Chris Cohan Owning the Golden State Warriors: 10 of the Dumbest Moves

Originally posted Mar 23, 2010 8:14 PM PDT


UPDATE 3/25 9:35am: Also make sure to check out: Polling GSoM: Who do you want to be the next owner of the Golden State Warriors?- Larry Ellison, Mark Mastrov, Group from China, Ice Cube


Have you heard the good word? Chris Cohan aka the worst owner in all of professional sports is officially selling the Golden State Warriors! The sale in all likelihood won't be completed by this upcoming July as our friend Tim Kawakami has written, so there will be plenty of time to investigate and project what hoops will be like in the Bay with all of the potential suitors.


The Bay Bridge is on sale?

In the meantime it's time to take a look back at the dumb and dumber of the Cohan era. We cried and know it's time to laugh!

You know the drill- JUMP!

1. Picking Don Nelson over Chris Webber and then firing Nellie shortly thereafter (1994)

If your 20 year old franchise cornerstone and once-in-a-generation talent wakes up one day and doesn't want to play for his coach (even if he's a hoops legend) what do you do?

You fire your coach.

No questions asked.



So what did Cohan do? He picked the coach over the young superstar and then shortly after dumped the coach too.

Does that make any sense?

Well at least the story had a (somewhat) happy ending.

Digging in the archives:

2. Botching pretty much every single coaching hire during The Dirty Dozen (1994-2006)

Now Rick Adelman has proven to be a fantastic coach in this league and I'd rate Eric Musselman as a potential coaching gem if he just knew when to give up the keys to his ride, but the rest? Good lord.

The saga of the Warriors coaches between Nellie's downfall in 1994 and Nellie's triumphant return in 2006:


Nellie agrees. Cohan really screwed up the coaching hires between his 2 acts of coaching the Dubs.

[pic via]

Good times... now that they're over.

3. Screwing up pretty much every single draft pick (1994-2008)

Oh man these were awful.

WARNING: The following article is known to cause severe emotional pain to anyone who cares about the Warriors-- Golden State Warriors 1st Round Draft History and Just My Imagination

So here's how THE PERFECT WARRIORS 1st Round NBA DRAFT HISTORY over the Cohan years would look:

  • 1994: Wesley Person
  • 1995: Kevin Garnett
  • 1996: Kobe Bryant
  • 1997: Tracy McGrady
  • 1998: Dirk Nowitzki
  • 1999: Andrei Kirilenko
  • 2001: Gilbert Arenas and Tony Parker
  • 2002: Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer
  • 2003: David West
  • 2004: Josh Smith
  • 2005: Danny Granger
  • 2006: Rajon Rondo
  • 2007: Joakim Noah and Ramon Sessions

It didn't quite look like that, now did it?

4. Switching to kindergartner-designed thunderbolt jerseys (1997)

The rumors about Cohan's IRS and other financial troubles have only surfaced in the past 2-3 years, but I have a feeling they date back to 1997. I mean why else would he hire a 6 year old to design the Warriors' Thunderbolt era jerseys?

The Warriors went from this:


Definitely HOT.

to this:


U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi- you're UGLY!

(We're just talking about the jerseys here, not the players.)

Check out these jersey illustrations via Chris Creamer for more specifics:

5. Sticking with Gary St. Jean way too long (1997-2004)

By all accounts GSJ is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Maybe lawsuit Cohan (see The man who owns the Warriors / Cohan's rocky reign / An era marked by lost games, lost fans and endless litigation [SFGate]) actually had a soft spot in his heart and just couldn't fire him. Too bad SEVEN years went by.


Jerry Krause: "Jesus Gary! You're here in Secaucus AGAIN?!"

[pic via]

6. Promoting Robert Rowell to President (2003)

I'd rate this as being the biggest joke move of Cohan's entire ownership.

How does this even happen?

Who hands a top executive position of a $300+ million dollar operation to someone this unqualified both in academic training and professional experience?

Did Rowell have some "unflattering" pictures that Cohan didn't want released?

Kawakami has documented some of the disasterous consequences of this dumb, dumb, dumb promotion in Robert Rowell's 25 fire-able offenses as Warriors colossus

Check out this press release from 2003: Warriors Promote Robert Rowell To Team President


It hasn't been a great time out with R-double.

[pic via]

7. Promoting Chris Mullin to VP and giving him a blank checkbook (2004)

Post-Antawn Jamison and post-Gilbert Arenas the Warriors were one of the least talented teams in the association. They needed some buzz and a way to excite the fanbase about a pretty boring product that was going absolutely nowhere.

So Cohan does the natural thing and promotes previous GM Gary St. Jean's "protege" Chris Mullin who is a beloved member of the first era of Nellieball in the Bay Area, fondly termed RUN TMC (read: cheap publicity stunt). At the time of the hiring Mullin was about the least qualified man for a front office gig. He had no worthy relevant experience in a scouting or management role unless you count that "training" under St. Jean as a good thing, which I'd count as 3 strikes.

That was mistake #1. Mistake #2 was giving him a blank checkbook so he could sign some of the worst free agent signings in the current era of free agency with Adonal Foyle ($42 million over 6 years) and Derek Fisher ($37 million over 6 years). The ill-timed extensions for Mike Dunleavy ($44 million over 5 years) and Troy Murphy ($60 million over 6 years) were equally laughable.


$79 million reasons to smile.

[pic via]

From the vault:

For those of you who want to perpetuate the myth that Mullin was improving as a GM post-WE BELIEVE, well we'll break that one down soon too.

8. Killing WE BELIEVE (2007- 2009)

The death of the WE BELIEVE movement is probably the most painful part of this list. After 12 years of missing the playoffs in a league where over half of the teams qualify for the postseason, Cohan's Warriors finally, finally make the Western Conference Elite 8 in 2007 on the last day of the regular season with a product that is universally recognized across the league as wildly entertaining (not counting Dallas Mavericks fans).

WE BELIEVE was about the fans, Nellieball, and the players. All 3 groups were/ are absolutely insane. It was a perfect match.


We're all pretty insane here in Dubs Land- and that's something to be proud of!

So what do Cohan and crew do?

They make one cheap move after another beginning with the Jason Richardson trade for a raw and undersized power forward prospect who they never a) brought in for a pre-draft workout or b) seemed to really want (to this day in fact). Meanwhile, this was all being done under the guise of some "brilliant master plan" to build around the "unlimited potential" of two good, but deeply flawed players Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins.


Cohan's specialty.

9. Mishandling Moped Gate (2009)

Chris Mullin "didn't seem to think it was a big deal" which was just dumb, but even dumber was Cohan and Rowell dragging it out indefinitely. They had every right to suspend Monta Ellis for his summer of foolishness right after inking that $66 million contract and being handed the keys to the franchise. They had every right to void the deal. But by not acting decisively (in general), they dragged this out unnecessarily. In the process there was infinite confusion, rumors, and even more tainted reputations. There were no winners in Moped Gate. Well at least it provided some good jokes.


A Link Back:

10. Getting rid of Thunder (2008)

A sad day indeed: Warriors Fire Thunder

This was probably the most egregious of the dumbest moves. You could blame this one on Clay Bennet and his band of Seatle SuperSonics hijackers, but seriously why didn't Cohan and the Warriors have some spine here? How do you let an "expansion franchise" (more like stolen team) jack your mascot and use it as their team name? Does that make any sense?



Thunder to the rescue!

Poor Thunder. He was always a standup guy in all our GSoM interactions with him. Thunder always changed the topic of conversation when I asked him for workout tips (I think he "partied" a little too much with Bay Area baseball legends Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and Barry Bonds if you know what I mean), but I'm not going to hold that against him one bit.


Message to future GSW owner: Please bring Thunder back!

Can you dig it?


There's countless dumb moves during Cohan's tenure at the top of the Dubs, but what you've just read is a really, really, really dumb 10. I'm sure the brilliant GSoM community can add to the documentation of the dysfunction-junction in comments, so I'll pass the mic to you all to continue to dig up The Suck...

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