Joe Lacob in sensitive spot with Warriors players

Joe Lacob in sensitive spot with Warriors players
May 19, 2014, 10:45 am
Lacob deserves credit for being a key figure in changing the image of the franchise. That new image was stained with the Jackson firing, and further stained with the way it was handled.
Monte Poole

"Players now view the man in the corner office as someone who will move with utter impunity, as if only his desires matter – and, more pointedly, that theirs do not." -- Monte Poole (AP)

Programming note: Watch Steve Kerr's introductory press conference Tuesday at Noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, or streaming live right here.

When the Warriors introduce Steve Kerr on Tuesday in Oakland, franchise CEO Joe Lacob likely will stay in the background while general manager Bob Myers shares the dais with the new coach.

Lacob may be out of sight, but he most certainly won't be out of mind.

One of the reasons he felt secure in firing Mark Jackson was his belief that the locker room is solid enough to digest and reconcile the loss of a man they considered more than a coach. Lacob is right. The young men on this team are fairly grounded and eventually will move on.

What the CEO either did not understand or did not bother to consider is that they will never forget. And that matters.

Jackson's firing, which clearly had a personal component, has ignited spirited buzz among league insiders and observers and fans and players, including some of the Warriors. Popular topics of discussion have been race and religion and culture and communication – all factors in creating a Lacob-Jackson divide that could not be bridged and for which the blame must be shared.

I wouldn't expect Warriors players to express any animosity toward Kerr. If he moves skillfully enough – and he has the savvy and intellect to do so – the team will fall in line. This bunch will stay on task as long as things continue the upward trajectory generated on Jackson's watch.

[REWIND: What Kerr hiring means for Lacob, Warriors]

Things will be tougher for Lacob, though, as players now view the man in the corner office as someone who will move with utter impunity, as if only his desires matter – and, more pointedly, that theirs do not.

The pleas of franchise player Stephen Curry were ignored. By the time somebody from the Warriors informed him the coach had been dumped, Curry had already been told by others, including Jackson. That doesn't happen in a first-class NBA organization. It's a violation of the protocol that should exist between front office and franchise player in a league defined by talent.

If it was an oversight, the Warriors look bad. If it was arrogance, they look worse. Neither plays well in the NBA. Though every team owner is wealthy and powerful, one of the tricks to enduring success is judicious swinging of those qualities. Aristocracy is most insufferable when the aristocrat brandishes such status.

The Lakers of yore always knew their late, great former owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, was filthy rich. Even though he was the boss on full libertine exhibit, his core players also felt a sense of inclusion. They felt respected, as if they mattered. It seemed to work fairly well.

One of the reasons the Mavericks have been such a force for so long is that owner Mark Cuban, who can be very obnoxious, generally understands his role. He not only leads the front office but also is a member of the team in general. Dirk Nowitzki feels respected, as if he matters.

The same applies to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami. It applied to Paul Pierce when he was in Boston. It still applies to Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Good owners recognize they wouldn't be good owners without good relationships, which yield solid reputations.

The Warriors under Lacob have made tremendous strides toward that end. Lacob deserves credit for being a key figure in changing the image of the franchise.

That new image was stained with the Jackson firing, and further stained with the way it was handled.

The image took another hit when Lacob paid Kerr nearly three times more than he paid Jackson and still another – and this is not insignificant – when Lacob described as a better "fit" for the Warriors' corporate culture, citing golf trips as one of their connections.

There's a lot of volatile imagery there and it's not going unnoticed. It's in the minds of many of the league's movers and shakers. It's in the minds of some Warriors fans. And, rest assured, it's not far from the minds of many of the team's players.

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