With the end of Warriors owner Chris Cohan's 16-year tour of mismanagement here, long-suffering fans of the franchise are jubilant. The team was sold for a record $450 million
to a group led by Joseph Lacob, a Celtics part-owner and partner at the Menlo Park venture capital firm KPCB; and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber. So those are the new bosses. But it's worth looking back at what made old boss Cohan's years atop the franchise so putrid.
Take a deep breath and join us:
The Todd Fuller era: Think of Fuller as a microcosm -- a 6-foot-10, slow, undertalented microcosm. In a 1996 draft featuring, among others, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Antoine Walker, Peja Stojakovic, Steve
Nash, and Marcus Camby, the Warriors selected -- you know who. The annual panic trade of a disgruntled player:
Let Fuller symbolize two things: A. Inept draft-day performance, and; B. The persistent hiring and retention of personnel who could not properly draft nor assemble a team. Fuller's tenure was especially onerous, as it seemed that team management valued his nice smile, docile Christianity, and, let's face it, whiteness over any ability worthy of a No. 11 pick.
Last year, the Warriors dumped disgruntled team captain Stephen Jackson in return for three magic beans. Actually, they got Raja Bell -- who turned out to have an undiagnosed, season-ending injury and never suited up for the team at all -- and Vlad Radamonovic. Just another classic two-dimes-for-a-dollar panic trade for the home team
. The beans would have been preferable. Other classic stinkers include Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling for Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis and Chris Mullin for Erick Dampier and Duane Ferrall. What wretched players will the W's get for sure-fire future disgruntled Warriors refugee Monta Ellis? These are the kinds of things Golden State fans think about when they wake up in the morning. The coddling of Latrell Sprewell
: In what was perhaps the nadir of player-coach relationships in the 20th century, star Warriors guard in 1997 Latrell Sprewell responded to coach P.J. Carlesimo's quip during practice to "put some mustard on that pass" by purportedly shouting "trade me or I'll kill you" and choking his coach.
After cooling off in the locker room for 15 minutes, he attacked his coach again. The situation devolved into a legal morass resulting in -- you guessed it -- yet another panic trade. But, before Sprewell and the Warriors parted company, it became very clear that he was no altar boy -- and the team had looked the other way repeatedly at his misbehavior.
Among Spree's transgressions: Threatening teammate Jerome Kersey with a two-by-four at practice
; Running a couple off the road by driving 100 mph in the emergency lane; keeping the pit bull that mauled his 4-year-old daughter ("stuff happens," he reportedly said at the time).
The worst thing of all: Warriors fans were forced to root for Spree and
endure horrific, losing teams. The Chris Webber Debacle
: The Warriors new owner couldn't have introduced himself to Bay Area fans in any worse a manner than he did in 1995. After he bought the team, he sided with coach Don Nelson in star rookie Webber's "him or me" demand -- and then sent the coach packing shortly thereafter. Worst of all worlds -- like we noted, it's the Warriors specialty. And while the situation is often described as a showdown between a spoiled, cocky rookie and a crusty old coach, your humble narrator has always felt that Cohan's heavy-handed boorishness is what ruined everything. Nelson, a company man, took the bullet for his boss.
By the way, making chickenshit salad out of chickenshit, Cohan approved the packing off of Webber to Washington for Tom Gugliotta. He then had the temerity to tell shattered W's fans that they'd "go gaga for Goo-Goo."
"Goo-Goo" lasted 40 games with the Warriors before he was banished to
Minnesota for Donyell Marshall and the pick that would become Antawn
Jamison. Marshall was later exchanged for Danny Fortson, who, along with
Jamison, was subsequently traded for the legendary Evan Eschmeyer, Avery Johnson,
Popeye Jones, Antoine Rigadeau, and Nick Van Exel.
So, that's what the
Warriors made out of two overall No. 1 picks in the NBA draft: Nick Van Exel and friends. No wonder they only made the playoffs once in Cohan's 16 years of misrule.
Tough luck, Larry. We'd have Moe or Curly, too.
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