July 15, 2010
Short of selling the team to the brain trust that put together the Pontiac Aztek, you can safely assume that just about any Warriors fan who has a passing interest in the Bay Area outfit will be more than chuffed to hear that owner Chris Cohan is going away. That he's selling the Warriors, for $450 million.
It really doesn't matter who he's selling to. Because any new owner, in dealing with a Warriors fan that has seen the second round of the playoffs just once in the last 19 years, will come off as someone worth getting behind. I don't know how more starkly I can put it: Chris Cohan was as awful as owners get, and his personnel heads (Robert Rowell and Larry Riley) are absolute jokes when it comes to accurately assessing what it takes to run an NBA team.
Golden State's coach? It's Don Nelson, who actually has won more games than any other coach in NBA history, because he's coached more games than anyone over the last 30 years. His record couldn't mean less, because Jay Leno has been on TV more times than anyone over the last 30 years, and Jay Leno is to Don Nelson as to, well, Jay Leno is to Don Nelson. And, put it this way, Lakers coach Phil Jackson is to Don Nelson as to Gore Vidal is to a fifth grader's discarded paperback Mad-Libs book. Nellie used to have Vidal potential, but at this point he just hangs around, and has fun with things. He sometimes has an eye for talent, but that's as far is it goes.
We don't know how far this new ownership group will go in re-shaping the Warriors. I remember reading about Mark Cuban taking over the Dallas Mavericks in January of 2000 at the Denver International Airport (it was impressive, they had computers with Internet connections!), and assuming straightaway that Nelson would be gone within the week. His rep was nearly as low then as it is now, but he's a charismatic guy who knows the pro game. Nellie could get his act together soon enough and stay on board.
Rowell and Riley — argybargybargy — hopefully will be on their way, soon. Why? Because Warriors fans deserve it.
Honestly, this team's fan base is about as passionate as NBA fan bases get. They know these guys, and they've loathed Cohan since the first Clinton administration. And Cohan has enabled a series of terrible coaches, worse personnel types, and pathetic front-office mugs (your Rowells, your Rileys) to take advantage of one of the more intelligent legions of team-specific fans we've seen. He messed up what could have been a brilliant thing, and he'll deserve all the lip he can get for presiding over the second-worst overall NBA record over his miserable time owning the squad.
The Warriors have Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to run things now, and the latter runs Mandalay Entertainment. And it hardly matters. They could have Tim and Eric buying the team (for a reported $450 million) and it wouldn't make a difference. Anything is better than Cohan and his soul-crushing cronies. Anything. Ask anyone with an Andris Biedrins(notes) jersey.
Congrats, Warriors fans. For all I know, the new ownership group could change your team's name to the Golden State Bananacakes, and bring back the 1997-era unis, and it would still be an improvement over what you've had to live with for nearly two decades. Be free, brothers and sisters.