Not That Qualified

Historically, team’s have always built their organizations from the top down. Teams were created first by individuals and then talent is sought after. Those in the front office usually gave up their positions to heirs of the throne, or hire a former athlete. This rite of passage was taken seriously, until ultra rich guys like Mark Cuban shook their money trees to make people forgot about qualifications and all that jazz.

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Buying a team without being connected previously to the franchise is a plausible thing now, and it’s always surprised me how just about anyone, can opt in for stake to a professional athletic team. Most of the time becoming the teams full owner, take Jay Z for that matter. Okay, so anyone can buy a team and control the franchise—isn’t that treacherous for their winning prospects?

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In most cases, yes. Majority owner of the Warriors is Joe Lacob, a longtime partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, whose investment group Mandalay Entertainment bought the team in 2010 for $450 million, beating out other white collar buyers. He’s no ordinary Joe, unless you consider thriving with start up after start up in Silicon Valley ordinary; which some people do.

Other teams, less superb than the Warriors, such as the Kings or Grizzlies, also are owned by techies who made their money in Silicon Valley. But what makes Lacob’s ownership group unique, is that it includes a veritable front office locker room full of fellow Silicon Valley VC’s. It’s hard to measure their teams value correlative to these heady persona’s in the command room, but I like it. The divide between them and other trade sharks is that their organization wins! The Kings o r Grizzlies are two teams that clearly don’t have what it takes to make it to the NBA Finals.

The Warriors Lacob is a master of maximization. He maximized their efficiency, exploiting nimble management, using open communication, and integrating the wisdom of outside advisers he brings on to continuously re-evaluate what companies do and how they do it. None of that typically happens in professional sports. They even maximized ticket sales when they realized their popularity, raising them up to 500 dollars, even in the nosebleeds sometimes.

With techies in silicon valley’s expendable income galore, it has become a tech haven, a networking event— it’s good publicity to be seen at games. The Warriors are outliers. For them, their fan base considers it hip, necessary even, to be seen at Warriors games. However, the new, moneyed fan base is a double-edged sword; it’s brought revenue to the team and boosted the area’s Warrior pride, but it has priced out many longtime Warriors fans who didn’t happen to create a billion-dollar tech startup.

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in three seasons the Warriors will ditch Oakland for the ‘techified’ sidewalks of San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, where JPMorgan Chase, will finance a brand new stadium and get naming rights to “a shiny new arena”. That’s the next most logical move, as you can get anything you want after you bring a championship to your city. You can also call it an embarrassment of riches— but they won’t deny it. You don’t rise to the top of the business food chain with fear, and you don’t win championships second guessing your infrastructure.

Lacob has been noted taking full responsibility for the recent success of the franchise. There’s a cockiness to the way venture capitalists like him do things, and that may hurt or help him. It’s vaguely similar to the vibe a Donald Trump agenda gives off. But personally I love what the Warriors have got going, and how they seem to be on this revamping track for the long run. Right now it’s clear not many teams will be able to compete with the Cavs, or LeBron for that matter, in the upcoming years. We hope the minds that control the Warriors are correctly navigating for the future. Sport culture has always been one that focuses on the paramount athletes or their polarizing coaches. But now, we’re seeing an increased awareness shift from a focus on players, to now owners.

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Kyle Becker

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