Now maybe Joe Lacob gets the picture. Now maybe he understands that the history of franchise doesnt get sliced up into portions depending on the identity of the owner.Lacob was gobsmacked by a wall of booing while introducing Chris Mullin on his number retirement Monday night. He had brought Mullin back from Chris Cohans administrative exile and wanted his contributions to the franchise memorialized, and he thought that correcting one on Cohans more petty errors made him bulletproof.Now he knows better. Now he gets the picture. Nobody escapes while the team is not winning. Nobody gets a pass for good intentions. Six playoff appearances in 36 years, and one in 18, shout far louder than a public relations gesture triggered by a generous spirit.This wasnt just Monta Ellis-trade booing either. This was all of it, unleashed by a fan base that knows how badly it has been taken advantage of over the years. This was the promise of a playoff position meeting the reality of being 13th in the West and looking at a future that remains tantalizingly distant.This is about the same old meal, delivered by a new waiter. Lacob has to know that doesnt work. And he knows now for sure.But he should have known it before this. He should have known it if anyone had told him about the 2000 All-Star Game, when Cohan, his own child by his side, was even more crushingly booed in the third quarter intermission while he was trying to present an award to Michael Jordan.Let me repeat that: With his son next to him. While giving an award to Michael Jordan.In other words, there was precedent for Monday, and the ensuing 12 years have been mostly just as rough as the previous 23.And Lacob can't to have hurt feelings about this, because the rules are different for those who represent three and a half decades of irrelevance with a touch of nonsense on the side. He did not build it, but they keep coming, and theyre pissed about it.Hes only been around for two years, true, but one of them is the current one, shortened by a lockout he helped support, and neither has been good. Fans who were thankful he wasnt Cohan have been given little evidence to convince them that the Cohan years arent still among them, save small gestures like the Mullin ceremony.And despite the best efforts of Mullin and Rick Barry to stem the tide (Mullin more successful at it than Barry, to be frank), those fans remain angry at all the money they have thrown, because for fans, every season is not different. When you have failed, all the seasons are the same, and they build up pressure until the valves break.Now Lacob has a choice to make, one that requires a level of humility. He can save face, or at least some of it, by taking this moment and touring the stands for the next few games, explaining to any and all that undoing the rancid past is more like turning an ocean liner than backing out of a driveway. He has to let the fans vent in smaller groups, or even individually.And his only response can be this:I know. I know. We havent gotten it right yet. We got handed a bad situation, but either we misjudged how bad it is or we havent gotten it all figured out yet. I shouldnt have promised you a playoff, and thats on me. Youre entitled to more proof than this, and I get how pissed you are about this.In fact, dont be patient with us. We dont deserve your patience. We dont have the right to it, and we wont until we have given you what you really want a team that can make you proud of its history. Im glad you booed me instead of Chris Mullin, because he is blameless. And you should keep booing me, and Peter Guber, and all of us, until you stop having to wait for what everybody else gets more often than weve given it to you.In other words, he has to take it, and keep taking it, until the Warriors stop giving its customers the same old night out.In the meantime, he has to learn that around here, the sins of the owners do not end when the old owner leaves. They go on and on until something better comes along.Thats the lesson. This was a message to Lacob that things are worse than he thought with the greatest fans in the NBA. And he can never be surprised by it again.
OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.
Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.
“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.
Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.
It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.
“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.
When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.
Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.
Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).
When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.
The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.
“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”
OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson spent nearly eight minutes Saturday answering a variety of questions, many of which were related to his diminished offense this postseason and his primary defensive assignment in the upcoming NBA Finals.
Mired in a shooting slump, by his standards, the Warriors guard now has to confront the fabulous offensive arsenal of Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.
As much as Thompson would love to rediscover his shooting touch in Game 1 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors may be more delighted if he can prevent Irving from finding his.
“I take pride in (playing) both sides of the ball, defense as equally as offense,” Thompson said after practice at the team’s downtown facility. “Whether or not my shot falls, I can always control that part of the game.”
The Warriors are undefeated (12-0) this postseason despite Thompson averaging only 14.4 points (compared to 22.3 in the regular season) on 38.3-percent shooting from the field (46.8 in the regular season), 36.4 percent beyond the arc (41.4 in the regular season).
That spotless postseason record is, in part, a reflection of Thompson’s work on defense. In all three rounds, he has guarded the opponent’s most dangerous backcourt player.
“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s helped us win games,” acting head coach Mike Brown said.
Next up for Thompson is Irving, who has hit game-winning shots in each of the last two times Cleveland has beaten the Warriors, a 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2015 Finals and a midrange fadeaway jumper last Christmas Day at Quicken Loans Arena.
Irving has played well this postseason but lately has lifted his game to another level. In the five-game Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Irving averaged 25.8 points per game, while shooting 62.2 percent.
He was particularly dazzling as the Cavs finished off the Celtics in Games 4 and 5, averaging 33.0 points on 64.9-percent shooting.
Irving’s recent run prompted Cleveland teammate LeBron James to label him one of the best one-on-one players of all time, a compliment Brown did not argue.
“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the 3, but that’s all they can do,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can dribble drive and finish at the rim, but that’s all they can do. Here’s a guy that can shoot the 3 off the catch-and-shoot, he could shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has medium-game pull-up. He has medium-game floater. And then he can get to the rim. And when he gets to the rim, he can finish in traffic among 7-footers.
“The way he puts English on the ball, how high he gets it off the glass when he needs to, all those things play into a factor of why he is one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time.”
Thompson said Irving’s offense “easily” belongs in the discussion with the league’s best, a group including the likes of MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, as well as Thompson’s teammate, reigning MVP Stephen Curry.
“He’s done it in big moments, so you’ve got to give him credit,” Thompson said of Irving. “Not only have I seen him do it in the pros, but I’ve seen him do it with the USA Team, too. Kyrie’s a very tough guard. We’ve got a game plan for him, and it’ll be fun.”
Thompson said he will try to crowd Irving, contest every shot and not be outhustled. Still, he concedes that may not be enough.
There is, however, one other thing Thompson cited that could impact Irving’s offensive production. Make him work on defense, something both Warriors guards have the ability to do.
For Thompson, that means finding his stroke.
“I’d like to see the ball go in the basket,” he said. “It has, just not as frequently as I want. But that means nothing now. That’s in the past. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot lights-out if we didn’t finish the job off.
“Now that we’re here, it’s a clean slate. It’s time to go. Can’t be worried about a few bad shooting games or the percentages when you went 12-0. You’ve just got to do what you can and have the intentions to win the game, not to go out there and score a number of points but to just go out there and win the game and make winning plays. That’s what I’m focused on.”