For Warriors, turmoil starts with the boss
With such imperfection, such an uneven past for Stephen Jackson(notes), the twisted sensibilities of his Golden State Warriors owner should’ve suggested Chris Cohan would develop a deep affection for his star. He showered Jax with a needless contract extension of $28 million, a captainship and ultimately the organizational manual on manipulation and petulance.
The worst owner in the NBA is seldom seen or heard, preferring to let a slobbering run of incompetence shape the face of his legacy. From front-office folly to combustible stars, Cohan has lorded over one embarrassing episode after another in his 15-year Donald Sterling-esque run as majority owner.
Captain Jack watched franchise legend and general manager Chris Mullin get pushed out of his job, and witnessed coach Don Nelson get his buddy Larry Riley the office. Jackson watched Nelson take a rich contract extension and practically give up coaching a season ago, turning over most duties to his assistants.
Mostly, Jackson watched the way it worked with the Warriors. He’s no dummy. The Machiavellians have always reigned here, always prospered. He just learned the way it works, and he’s making it work for him with an exit strategy of belligerence.
Make no mistake: Management will make Jack the boogeyman now because there’s always a bad guy here. From Chris Webber(notes) to Latrell Sprewell, Mullin to P.J. Carlesimo, Baron Davis(notes) to Jackson, there’s always a fall guy for Cohan and his meddling, overmatched president, Bobby Rowell. Jackson isn’t innocent, but he sure beat the Warriors. Jax wants out and he’ll make life hell for the Warriors until he gets his wish.
Jackson flipped on Friday night in Los Angeles when Nellie let him stay on the floor to pick up five fouls and a technical inside of 10 minutes. Jax was at wit’s end when he started clinging close to Kobe Bryant(notes). One source on the court says Kobe addressed Jax as “Young Fella,” and for some odd reason that pushed Jackson over the edge. Soon, Jackson was cursing Nellie and storming to the locker room on his way to a two-game preseason suspension.
The residue of a historic season two years ago – the biggest upset in NBA playoff history – has washed away. Mullin was the executive responsible for returning the Warriors to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, and his reward was getting bum-rushed by Rowell and Nelson, whom he hired off his hammock in Maui.
Jackson is the story with Golden State now, but he isn’t the issue.
Before the Warriors turn this franchise over to a marvelous rookie guard, Stephen Curry(notes), and a promising 7-footer, Anthony Randolph(notes), Cohan should stop sputtering with overtures to sell the Warriors and do everyone a favor: Sell now.
The bid of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been out there, but details of another intriguing offer to buy the Warriors have emerged, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. There is a well-moneyed and politically connected Bay Area group that has approached Cohan about purchasing the team and building a privately funded arena in downtown San Francisco. What’s more, the group has already had third parties call several well-respected NBA front-office executives about running the team.
As for Ellison, sources say he knows what the Warriors are worth in his mind and he isn’t inclined to raise the offer Cohan has already rejected. The Warriors and NBA deny the team is for sale, but as one official with knowledge of the bids says, while Cohan “can go hot and cold,” the San Jose Mercury News’ reports over the summer were accurate. It’s just a matter of time until he sells.
For everyone’s sake, the sooner, the better. The Warriors are endemic of a bigger problem in the NBA: bad ownership draining good markets. The Bay Area has been so loyal to that lousy basketball team. When they finally ended a run of 12 seasons without playoff basketball in 2007, Oracle Arena delivered an unparalleled atmosphere. Now, the Warriors are left with Nellie, a great coach, but ill-suited so late in life for such a young team. Those Warriors were a remarkable story, an unforgettable testament to Nellie’s small-ball acumen, but were reflective of the owner’s tenure: never built to last.
Cohan and Rowell have this habit of falling into love with the wrong coaches and players, and Nellie should’ve returned to Hawaii once they broke up this team and decided to go young. Golden State is where great young talent comes to stagnate. As Stephen Jackson pushes his way out now, the cycle of rising young talent will take over another Warriors lottery team. Once and for all, the owner should spare everyone the inevitable fate of his basketball incompetence.
The suitors are lining up for this franchise, and it’s time: Sell the Warriors, Cohan. Sell them now.