Joe Lacob

Warriors' Lacob strikes rare mix as popular and profitable owner


The invisible owner of the Athletics is subjected to a song of simple and pointed lyrics -- “Sell the Team . . . Sell the Team” -- which has spread beyond the Oakland Coliseum to multiple states beyond California.

After suspending a popular broadcaster for staggeringly infantile reasons, the owner of the Orioles is getting his ears blistered by fans at the ballpark in Baltimore.

The folks in charge of the Orlando Magic spent a few days trying to defend political donations to a Florida governor clearly committed to a pedal-to-the-metal attack on education.

At this rate, many of the moneyed folks running American sports teams will have to withdraw some of those funds to cover their ears.

Then there is Joe Lacob, the man atop the organizational chart of the Golden State Warriors. He has, in less than 13 years, spun lint to gold.

Another bouquet of flowers came his way this week courtesy of Sportico, which sinks its teeth into the business of sports. The value of the Warriors was set at $7.56 billion, making them the second-most valuable franchise in American sports, behind only the Dallas Cowboys at $9.2 billion.

We repeat. The Warriors are worth $7.56 billion.

To put that into context, the Warriors are 20 times more valuable today than they were in 2010, when Lacob and co-chairman Peter Guber fronted a group that bought the franchise from Chris Cohan.

When Lacob, Guber and Co. paid $450 million in 2010, many perceived the amount an overpay for a franchise then valued (by Forbes) at $363 million. Lacob and Guber, having outmaneuvered venerable Oracle chief Larry Ellison to make the deal with Cohan, never blinked. Perhaps because their eyes were gazing into a future only they could see.

Their vision was championships. Lots of them. The response was widespread scoffing. Still no blinking from the top. When the Warriors, with Stephen Curry as the wheel man, won the NBA Finals in 2015, it snapped a 40-year stretch without a title. They won another in 2017. And another in 2018. And, somehow, they surprised even themselves by taking yet another trophy in 2022.

The vision of Lacob and Guber was to aim high and keep shooting. They snagged Lakers legend Jerry West, as good a basketball mind as there is. They snagged Rick Welts, whose creativity as a business executive is unsurpassed. They snagged Mark Jackson as head coach not because he had a resumé (he did not) but because he offered something else the Warriors needed: a national profile.

Once the Warriors made consecutive playoff appearances and had basketball folks whistling and whispering, once Curry’s superstar wings were visible to all, they no longer needed Jackson’s prominence. They swapped him out for Steve Kerr.

Somewhere along the way, the New Warriors, now bristling with confidence, believed they could persuade Kevin Durant -- perhaps the best player in the NBA -- to come to the Bay.


The Warriors, who began the 21st century with seven consecutive losing seasons, cycling through six different head coaches, had become one of the most feared teams in NBA history.

By the time Durant left in the summer of 2019, the Warriors were the league’s third-most valuable franchise, trailing only the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Lacob and Guber, from the start, always made clear their intention to move the team back to San Francisco, where the Warriors spent their first nine seasons in California, before being lured to Oakland by a superior facility. Once Chase Center opened in September 2019, the franchise value took another leap.

The Warriors, once mired in the NBA’s distant swampland, irrelevant to the likes of the Lakers and Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls, have zoomed past them all -- on the court and in value.

This is a testament to Curry’s presence, for without No. 30 there would be no championships, no Chase Center and no global adoration that at times reaches a fever pitch.

Plenty of others -- Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kerr come to mind -- were there to surround Curry with highly effective support.

Behind the activity on the court, though, Lacob is the man pulling the levers of the franchise. Where the Warriors are today always was his vision. He invested in the product, and the rewards -- championships, a new building, escalating revenue and more -- keep coming.

Nobody wants Lacob to sell the Warriors. Rather, there is a growing crowd that would love to see him buy the A’s.

Of course. They’ve seen him pull the local basketball team out of the mud and believe he could do the same for the local baseball team.

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