Ray Ratto

Ratto: Warriors Ownership Primer for Joe Lacob


Ratto: Warriors Ownership Primer for Joe Lacob

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber will appear on Chronicle Live on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
Ray Ratto

Because he didnt ask, and because he never would, we will now tell Joe Lacob how to run his new business.


Thats right. Dont. Lacob may own his share of the Golden State Warriors, and he may be the on-site grand fromage, but the history of owners who have been mega-involved in the operation of the teams theyve owned and succeeded doing so is as follows:

George Halas, and he started out as a player.

Curly Lambeau, and he started out as a player.

Connie Mack, and he started out as a player.

Mario Lemieux, and he started out as a player.

Bill Veeck, and he started out as a child.

Al Davis, and he started out as a coach.

If there are others, we dont care. We made the point. A sports owners expertise is not on the production side, because most owners have as their areas of expertise something other than displaying or assembling athletic talent for money. Mostly they either were born rich or became rich through business acumen, and thats where their focus should be. When it isnt, well, hilarity ensues.

So far, since reaching agreement with the magnificently popular Chris Cohan to take the team off his hands at nearly four times the amount Cohan paid for it, Lacob has been around to see, if not facilitate:

- A new logo and uniforms.

- A new coach.

So far, so good. The logo is simple, almost elegant in its minimalism. It doesnt need words around it, but thats a quibble. The new coach, Keith Smart, is, 6-3 but thats a small sample size. Mostly, he isnt Don Nelson, so that takes care of that.

But now that his name appears on the checks, Lacob has to fight the natural temptation most contemporary owners do -- to vote his stock on things he cannot truly understand, like the things he pays Smart and Larry Riley to do.

In other words, he needs to have the strength to turn the basketball operation over to the basketball department. He needs to findretain the smart marketing people to market, and the financial people to finance, and the advertising experts to findcreate advertising.

And then sit back with a quality cigar and a few beverages that make frothy heads when you pour them into a properly chilled glass and enjoy what Reggie Jackson used to call the magnitude of me.

In other words, Lacob needs to hire people, and then watch them go. Thats how the smart owners have always done it. Hell, its how Lemieux does it in Pittsburgh, and he was one of the 10 best hockey players ever. If he can resist the urge to coach and general manage and market, et. al., then Lacob can.

Then Lacob must. It is the only road to owner salvation. Everything else is failure of one sort or another.

In fact, if Lacob needs a primer, a quick call to Wally Haas, the son of the late As owner would do it. So would a call to Bob Lurie, who bought the Giants in 1976. They were guys who understood that the whole idea of owning isnt to show everyone you own the joint. Its in finding people who can make the joint worth owning.

Walter Haas method of running the As was simple: He was never around unless things were going to bad. He would tour the clubhouse and make sure the players were doing all right. He would ask the general manager and manager if they needed anything they werent currently provided. He would sign checks. And then he went and ran the business he did know Levi Strauss.

Lurie had a bit more fan in him, but he wasnt in the room on draft day, and he didnt make trades, and eventually he found the management team that worked best Al Rosen and Roger Craig. He didnt do a lot of publicity for himself, and he didnt try to get people think he was the mastermind. He did try to get someone else to build a new stadium for his team, which obviously didnt work, and he was underestimated by many smart-assed media types (hello, me!), but as owners go, he was much respected and ended up sane and happy in the end.

That is Lacobs safest and wisest path. Whether he takes it or not is anyones guess. He may decide that Davis is the best role model, but he never coached on the pro level. He might decide Jerry Jones is the best model, but Jones hasnt won anything since the players Jimmy Johnson assembled dissolved. He might want to be Danny Snyder, whos never won anything at all. He might even want to be Donald Sterling, who lurches between hyper-engagement and complete disinterest, leaving the day-to-day unpleasantness to suited underlings.

There are lots of role models for disaster (and youll notice we left Cohan alone here; he sold the team, thereby mastering the one desirable skill he really had after all these years leaving). They all include pretending expertise in areas in which the owner in question lacked expertise.

And there is but one way out the smart way. Assessing smart people by either knowing them or knowing where to find them, and letting their do their jobs. Oh, he can be in the room when the decisions are made, I guess; hes paying the rent after all. But he should only vote the way the Vice-President does in case of a tie in the Senate.

So now hes got the gig. Were about to see whether it was a good idea or not. Because, after all, well be his most important resource. We dispense wisdom without charging a consultants fee, and weve seen owners come and go for eons. Most of them thought they were smarter than they were, and ended up wealthier and more bitter for the experience.

Lacob can thank us later. Weve got nothing but time -- and advice.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”