The Warriors spent all season strutting around the NBA with their chests puffed out, telling anyone who would listen that they were better than the elite teams of the past, were horny for trophies, and had successfully re-engineered basketball from the circuits up to create a new, unforeseen way of playing the game with both efficiency and beauty. They cast themselves as Silicon Valley’s team, a squad that overcame the physical limits of basketball with thinkovation and synergy. Of course, for all the legitimate history they made this season, they got exposed in the NBA Finals and ended up on the wrong side of the greatest comeback in Finals history.
Much of the scorn the Warriors drew for their hubris centered on the glowing profile that the New York Times wrote about owner Joe Lacob. In the piece, Lacob more or less takes the credit for his team’s success and attributes the Warriors’ historic season to his acumen as a Silicon Valley doofus:
“We’ve crushed [other teams] on the basketball court, and we’re going to for years because of the way we’ve built this team. We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.”
“The great, great venture capitalists who built company after company, that’s not an accident,” he said. “And none of this is an accident, either”
Lacob was rightly mocked, and he later called Steph Curry to apologize for being so arrogant. It doesn’t appear, however, that he’s changed the way he sees the NBA and the Warriors’ success. Lacob spoke at the Stanford Directors’ College summit yesterday (of course he did) and laid out how he thinks the Warriors invented smallball, and how they won’t stop innovating, err, iterating. Via the Silicon Valley Business Journal:
“We drove this idea of small ball, and it’s a different style of play,” he said. “Having said that, I think it’s important to know that whenever everyone else starts doing things, it’s time to start doing what’s next. We’re on to the next idea — How can we iterate to evolve to get an advantage? I can assure you we’re very forward thinking in that regard.”
On free agency:
“The free agency market is like the talent market in Silicon Valley,” Lacob said. “It’s about hiring the best people and letting them do their job. I set the highest goal and pay them whatever it takes. Great people attract great people.”
On Luke Walton:
Lacob even said losing a leader like assistant coach Luke Walton is good for the team. Last month, Walton accepted a head coach position for the Los Angeles Lakers. “I love that we lose our assistant coach to a head coach position,” Lacob said. “That does great things for our legacy.”
On the Warriors’ place as thought leaders:
Lacob said the Warriors intentionally lead trends only to look for the next — almost a prerequisite for anyone in Silicon Valley business.
On why the salary cap is rising:
He said the Warriors were the reason for the higher market cap for what teams could pay for players. The projected salary cap for the 2016–17 season rose on Tuesday to $94 million, according to Sports Illustrated.
Here’s my favorite part, where he gets credit for zigging where everyone else is zagging, and eschewing his own bold ideas (not his ideas) about smallball for the revolutionary strategy of, uh, trying to sign Kevin Durant:
This idea of “forward thinking” away from the current trend of “small” could potentially point to the widely rumored idea that the Warriors are working to acquire free agent shooting forward Kevin Durant. Lacob dodged questions about the reports that the team is making efforts to acquire him.
This is some Silicon Valley hogwash. The Warriors didn’t invent smallball, and they won 73 games because they were led by a fiery dickpuncher who refused to let them rest during the regular season and maybe the greatest shooter of all time. Curry was drafted during the reign of another owner, and Lacob can’t chalk his revolutionary shooting abilities up to any organizational mantra he synergized into the Warriors’ corporate culture.
If the Warriors played in another city and were owned by mega-rich dudes from another industry, they wouldn’t get these “Team Of The Future” accolades, they would simply be regarded as a very good team with very good players who choked at the wrong time. Joe Lacob, please chill out.