Ray Ratto

Ratto: Warriors Ownership a Potent Pairing

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Ratto: Warriors Ownership a Potent Pairing

Nov. 15, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEWARRIORS PAGE WARRIORS VIDEO

"This isn't the cure for cancer. It may be the cure for Cohan, but it isn't the cure for cancer."
-- Warrior owner Peter Guber

Ray Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- That sentence may well be among the last you hear from Guber, the principal investor in the New Golden StateSan Francisco Bay AreaAnd Don't Forget Marin CountyCheck With Me Later Warriors, because it speaks to the principal difference between him and front mangovernor Joe Lacob.

Lacob wants you to know he's the guy making the decisions -- collegially, of course, with all his other partners, because he knows partners and he works well with partners.

Guber wants you to know he'll say anything at any time just for the sheer kinky fun of saying it.

This should lead to some interesting Skype sessions between the two men. There is no indication that they won't be collegial and cooperative owners, though multi-gajillionaires do not tend to run in packs. But they are stylistic opposites, and expertise opposites, and opposites make sparks.

Put another way, Joe Lacob wants to be Red Auerbach. Peter Guber wants to be Bill Veeck. At the same time.

Thus, when Guber dropped the Cohan line, one last middle finger toward the departed owner of this forlorn operation, Lacob's heart may have soared, but his brow furrowed and his dyspepsia made an appointment for later in the evening. He probably agreed, but he didn't need the grind of having it out there for us mean-spirited louts to find such amusement.

Lacob wants all vestiges of the Cohan era to disappear, because he doesn't want to have to re-plow old ground and keep having to atone for the sins of his predecessor. Thus, when Guber offered his impromptu assessment of this nation's most prevalent killer and the old owner, Lacob ground down a molar. He tried to hide it, but you could tell.

Of all the things to come from Monday's meet-the-new-kids media fete on the Embarcadero, this was the one thing that didn't need words. These are radically different men, thinking radically different things about this new property they have just consumed. This doesn't mean they will turn into Frank and Jamie McCourt any time soon, but their partnership will not be seamless. It can't be.

Lacob went on and on and about the kind of team he wants to run. Guber went on and on about the fan experience he wants to build. These seem like mutually exclusive notions (when asked about the new geometry class logo, he said, "That's probably something you should take up with Peter), but they are not, and when they intersect, they will both have to be Gandhi supplicating himself to Ali Jinnah at the partition of India not to throw things at each other."

At least metaphorically.

Today was the last day that they could play the "Hey at least were not the guy you used to have here" card, and other than Guber's little knee to Cohan's nethers, they avoided it well. True, Cohan won't appreciate the oblique comparison to mela'noma, but he got paid. "Let him complain to his autobiographer" seems to be the stance of choice.

Now they are two playing the role of one, and between them, they will define your field of interest in the Warriors. If the basketball team loses seven of nine, or general manager Larry Riley trades Monta Ellis for Sebastian Telfair, you now will be yelling at Lacob. If the twerp brigade delivering pizzas during timeouts knocks your soda over, or if the Warrior girls aren't girly enough for your warped tastes, you'll be screaming about Guber.

And if the team isn't good and the crowds start to dwindle, the two men can argue about whether it was the Telfair trade or the T-shirt gun that is chasing them away.

And they will. As they must. It is how they deal with these conflicts that will tell us how long this partnership will endure.

"I've had partners," Lacob said. "I know how to deal with partners. And there are partners with a capital-P. Peter is a Partner."

He said this in what looked and sounded like genuine admiration. But things change once the new-team smell goes away, and this is a relationship that will bear constant monitoring.

There are plenty of land mines, to be sure. Lacob kept calling basketball "my passion," and spoke in glowing terms about the essential zen of rebounding, which means he will make Riley's eye throb with tension headaches from time to time.

He also has installed his son Kyle as director of basketball operations, working "for Larry Riley," he emphasized, although you know how things can change.

And Guber? Well, to call him a potential loose cannon is to call loose cannons socially inhibited. He talks in grand gestures and emphatic arm waves, and he never met an opinion he couldn't tweak into an article of faith.

They are not oil and water so much as oil and vinegar, and if you do it right, sometimes you get a hell of a salad dressing. You might also get some real eye-watering, mouth-puckering moments of, "He said WHAT?" and "He's thinking of doing THAT?"

The issues of where the team might be in five years wasn't settled, as it could not be, but Lacob left every door open but the notion that he would welcome a second team coming into what he regards as his . . . er, sorry, their territory. The logo, the team makeup, the long-term future of anyone in the building, from Cohan's button man Robert Rowell on down, all of it is open to evaluation and change, depending on which way the wind is blowing from the dumpsters.

But first and foremost, there are Lacob and Guber. Two men that seem great at having a beer or 12 together, but who might also decide to go out in front of the bar and throw hands at each other before, if they're mature and rational men safeguarding their investment, going back into the tavern and having a few more as good pals will do.

And maybe at that session, Lacob might suggest to Guber that comparing folks to things you might need chemotherapy to cure is not as helpful an ad-lib as it might seem at the time.

Ray Ratto is a sports columnist for Comcast SportsNet.com.

Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?

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USATSI

Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?

Earlier we discussed how the Golden State Warriors have seemingly moved beyond hating on NBA officials (three technical fouls in 18 days is a stunning reversal of their formerly disputatious form), but we may have forgotten one new reason why they have found a more Buddhist approach to the cutthroat world of American competitive sport.

They lack someone new to hate.

Their much-chewed-upon rivalry with the Los Angeles Clippers actually lasted two years, and now the Clippers are busy trying to prevent military incursions into their locker room from the Houston Rockets. Their even more famous archrivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers seems to be imploding – with the total connivance of the Cavs themselves – before our eyes. Even cutting off their hot water made them laugh when two years ago not letting the Warriors' wives get to the game on time torqued them mightily.

And since we know that you locals desperately need a bête noire for your heroes (even though their biggest foe is actually their own attention spans), let us consider the new candidates.

HOUSTON

The Rockets have been among the Warriors’ most persistent contender/pretenders, having faced them in both the first round of the 2017 postseason and the conference finals in 2015. Both ended in 4-1 Warrior wins as part of a greater piece – Golden State is 19-4 against the Rockets in the Warriors’ bad-ass era, 10-2 at home and 9-2 on the road, and has finished an aggregate 59.5 games ahead of the Rockets in the past three and a half years.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include James Harden and Chris Paul, while Rockets fans loathe Draymond Green and Kevin Durant and work their way down from there.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 32,353): 19. The Rockets need to win a playoff series before even matching the Clippers, who as we all know came and went in a moment.

SAN ANTONIO

The previous platinum standard in Western Conference basketball, the Spurs have never really gone away, though they have aged. Their pedigree is not in dispute, and Steve Kerr has essentially become the next generation of Gregg Popovich. It is hard to create a rivalry out of such shamelessly mutual admiration.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include . . . uhh, maybe Kawhi Leonard for winning two Defensive Player Of The Year Awards instead of Draymond Green, though that’s not much to go on, frankly. Spurs fans hate Zaza Pachulia for stepping beneath Leonard and ending last year’s series before it started.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 23): 1. If they didn’t have to play against each other, I suspect these two teams would date.

OKLAHOMA CITY

The Thunder’s 3-1 collapse in 2016 is all but ignored now because the Warriors did the same thing one series later, but lifting Kevin Durant was quite the consolation prize for Golden State, and the definitive finger in the eye for the Thunder, who turned their team over completely to Russell Westbrook, for good and ill. Even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are still trying to relocate their stride.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Westbrook and Anthony for defining the I-need-the-ball-in-my-hands-to-function generation, and owner Clay Bennett for Seattle SuperSonics nostalgics. Thunder frans hate Durant, followed by Durant, Durant, Kim Jong-un, Durant, leprosy, Draymond Green’s foot, and Durant.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 440): 220. Westbrook is a human lightning rod, Anthony is the antithesis of what Warriors now regard basketball (they’d have loved him a quarter-century ago), and Stephen Adams for getting his goolies in the way of Green’s foot. Plus, some savvy Warrior fans can blame OKC for extending their heroes to seven games, thus making the final against Cleveland that much more difficult. This could work, at least in the short term.

PORTLAND

Damian Lillard is a much-beloved local. Plus, the Blazers have never interfered in the Warriors’ universe save their 1-8 postseason record. There are no truly hateable players on either side, though Stephen Curry threw his first mouthpiece in Portland, and Green is a perennial.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 1): 0.

BOSTON

The new pretender to throne, with the Eastern Conference’s version of Kerr in Brad Stevens. Even better since taking advantage of Kyrie Irving’s weariness with LeBron James, and until proven otherwise the team the Warriors should most concern themselves with.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Irving, who made the only shot in the last five minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, while Celtics fans hate Durant for not signing with them.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 67.7): 26, though this will rise if the two teams meet in the Finals. The last time they did, Bill Russell owned basketball.

THE REST OF THE EAST

Still too remote to adequately quantify, though Toronto, Miami and Milwaukee are clearly difficult matches for the Warriors. If you put them together, Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Hassan Whiteside with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe coming off the bench, coached by either Eric Spoelstra or Jason Kidd, would make a fun team for the Warriors to play against. Probably not functional, but fun.

And finally:

SACRAMENTO

Some decade the two teams’ geographical proximity will matter, but for now, they remain essentially two full professional leagues away from each other. We just mentioned them so Kings fans wouldn’t feel any more slighted than they already do.

How? Why? In 2018, the Warriors have been borderline zen

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How? Why? In 2018, the Warriors have been borderline zen

On a day and night when 21 technical fouls were called and five players ejected over 11 National Basketball Association games, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers received none of either in a game that should have created enough tension to warm the Yukon. This clearly makes no sense . . .

. . . unless of course the Warriors, having set a new trend early in the season for agonized dissent, have moved on to whatever the next thing is.

While a simmering uncivil war has bubbled between officials (and the management types who started this whole thing by telling officials to cut down on conversations and calm interactions with players and coaches), the Warriors have been on as close to their best behavior as they can manage.

Since the new year turned, the Warriors have played eight games and amassed only three technicals, one to Steve Kerr and two to players (Zaza Pachulia and, yes, you guessed it, Draymond Green). Oh, they still lead the league with 29 spaced over eight players and Kerr, plus seven ejections led by Kevin Durant’s three, but their seemingly insurmountable lead has been reduced to three over Oklahoma City and Phoenix (Phoenix?) and four over Houston and Charlotte (Charlotte?).

Indeed, you’d think that they could have mustered up at least one Monday night in Cleveland given the hype for this seemingly dying rivalry. I mean, the league even offered up one of its best and most strident officials in Scott Foster, whom Warrior fans are convinced is deliberately mean to the Warriors.

But here, too, is an outdated trope. The Warriors are 14-1 in their last 15 regular season games with Foster, and their postseason record of 7-5 with him is more a measure of him getting the maximum number of Finals games, where the Warriors have seven of their 16 postseason defeats. That doesn’t prove bias as much as it does frequency of use.

But we wander into the woods here. The point is, as the new discussion point is the much-advertised summit meeting between officials and players union officials at the All-Star break, the Warriors have been borderline zen. Why? Who knows? Maybe player performance maven Chelsea Lane is putting tranquilizers into their athletic drinks. Maybe they’ve taken up chanting. Maybe they can turn their ire on and off as they do the rest of their game. Or maybe these are the dog days for mouthing off at The Man.

Except that everyone else in the league seems to be taking up the cause of the revolution, so that last one can't be it.

Now we are willing to accept the possibility that so many day games Monday for the Martin Luther King holiday put the players off their typical routine, although the biggest incident of the evening happened in the night game between Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers.

It may simply be, then, that the Warriors either have nothing more to complain about, have taken to heart the lectures about their lectures, or they really have moved on to the next thing that separates them from the field.

Maybe never losing a road game ever again. Although, tediously enough, that is a record already held by . . . yes, them.