It was Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement night in Oracle Arena. A long time coming for the Warriors legend that wore No. 17, it should have been a joyous time for him, his family, the organization and the fans.
And then owner Joe Lacob stepped in and all hell broke loose.
After hearing rousing cheers from the fans for Mullin’s speech during halftime of the Warriors game, Lacob grabbed the mic to conclude the night when suddenly, the fans started to boo him.
Loudly and wildly.
Lacob stood confused, stunned and silenced until Mullin stepped back in to inspire the crowd to be more positive. They cheered again, but once Mullin stepped off, the boos returned.
It got to a point where another Warriors legend, Rick Barry, had to grab the mic to lecture the crowd about what it meant to have class.
The boos for Lacob, however, never stopped.
So ended what turned out to be a circus scene rather than a celebration of one of the greatest Warriors player of all time.
From Marcus Thompson II of San Jose Mercury News: “The ceremony to retire Mullin’s No. 17 jersey — held at halftime of Golden State’s 97-93 loss to Minnesota on Monday night — was interrupted as fans mercilessly booed Lacob. “What I feel bad about is it kind of ruined a night that was very special,” Lacob said. “I feel bad for Chris more than anything else.— Mullin became the sixth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired — joining Rick Barry (24), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Al Attles (16), Nate Thurmond (42) and Tom Meschery (14)… The ceremony started so smoothly, too. Mullin got several ovations. Several of his friends — including Tolbert, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Sarunas Marciulionis and coach Don Nelson — were on hand and offered kind words. A video tribute reminded fans of his Hall of Fame career. “This is where it all started for me as a pro,” Mullin said. “I came in as a young man. I made mistakes. I worked hard to redeem myself. And by the grace of God I am here today. I grew up right here in front of you. You, the Warrior fans, were a huge part of my success… In 13 seasons with Golden State, Mullin made five All-Star teams and four All-NBA teams — including first team in 1992-92. He is the second player in franchise history to average 25 points per game for five consecutive years (Chamberlain was the other). Mullin ranks top 10 all-time in franchise history in several categories. He’s first in games played (807) and steals (1,360), second in free throw percentage (86.2), fourth in points (16,245) and assists (3,146) and 10th in scoring average (20.1).”
Although there was no clear explanation of why the fans were so animated, there were certainly reasons to speculate.
From Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area: “Perhaps it was for trading fan favorite Monta Ellis last week to the Milwaukee Bucks. Maybe it was because he promised the fan base that the Warriors would be a playoff team in 2011-12, but they’re 18-25 and going in the opposite direction from the postseason. Perhaps it had something do with previous ownership of Chris Cohan and the years of frustration of only one playoff appearance in 17 – soon to be 18 – seasons. Or maybe it was because the Warriors played an awful first half. Most likely, it was a combination of all those things. But whatever the cause, it made for an awkward end to a celebration of one of the greatest Warriors of all time. “Knowing him, knowing his commitment, his passion … the day is going to come where he’s truly appreciated around here,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “I’ve been around a lot of owners and a lot of teams and he’s all about winning.” Maybe so, but apparently Warriors fans don’t believe that. Not right now.”
Perhaps it had something to do with this promissory note as well.
Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that the fans’ decision to boo the night away was ill-timed given the ceremony that was taking place. Either way, Lacob does not plan on hiding away as previous owner Chris Cohan did.
From Tim Kawakami of San Jose Mercury News: “It will never be forgotten–surely not by Lacob, not by Mark Jackson, not by the Warriors staffers who all seemed stunned, not by the handful of players who were on the court at the time. It will be filed away like the time Chris Cohan was mercilessly booed off the same court during the 2000 All-Star Game. And though it surely wasn’t the intent of the hundreds or thousands fans who were doing the booing, this night shapes up as a stand or fall moment for Lacob. Either he has the stuff to move past this sea of rage, and beat it back… or he doesn’t. Cohan didn’t have anything close to the stuff to survive that. The crowd decided that it’s time for Lacob to show it now. “Obviously, probably has something to do with the recent trade and some of the fans being upset with that,” Lacob said after the game. “But I think that they will love us, the ownership group, that is, when we win. And we will win.” The initial indication: Lacob did just fine. He didn’t quail. He got visibly mad, but he didn’t duck for cover. He went back out to his courtside seat in the second half. He kept clapping and cheering for all to see. He was joking about it not long after the game. Heroic? No. But stern and determined. OK, yes, Lacob probably shouldn’t have chosen that moment to speak; he was again grabbing center stage when it was better left to others, and I believe that led to some of the crowd’s anger. But Lacob didn’t deserve THAT treatment–he’s not Cohan, and if fans were torturing him for the Monta Ellis, he really didn’t deserve that, because it’s a good far-sighted trade.”
Meanwhile, a game was going on as the Warriors looked to snap a four-game losing streak to no avail against Minnesota, which had lost five of their last six games. Kevin Love dominated the game with 36 points and 17 rebounds.
The Timberwolves are 1 1/2 games behind the Rockets for the eighth seed, while the Warriors are slowly fading away.
From K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune: “Thibodeau broke Avery Johnson’s NBA record for the fastest coach to 100 victories thanks to the Bulls’ 85-59 victory over the Magic on Monday night at Amway Center. That ran Thibodeau’s mark to 100-30, eclipsing Johnson’s record set with the 2006 Mavericks by one game. The Bulls also improved to 19-6 on the road and 10-4 without Derrick Rose, who sat again with a strained groin. They did so with a team effort that featured 24 points from Carlos Boozer, 20 from John Lucas III and defense that forced 19 turnovers and 35.3 percent shooting. Oh, and allowed the fewest regular-season points in franchise history, besting the 62 points the Bucks scored on Dec. 5, 1997. There’s a record Thibodeau likes. “I want to beat Orlando,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the only thing that matters. All that other stuff, meaningless. Stuff like that, it’s more a reflection of the team and organization. We have good players, great management, great ownership.” Whether Thibodeau admits it or not, the Bulls have a great coach too. Just ask Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “There are a lot of great coaches in this league and a lot of people have done great jobs both last year and this year,” Van Gundy said. “But nobody — nobody — has done a better job than Tom has. And he’s probably doing even a better job this year than he did a year ago. “With all the injuries they’ve had, they just keep rolling along. I said to my assistants the other day, they could probably have all five starters out and they’d still beat everybody. “To me, they’re the best team in the league as far as a team collectively playing together, being unselfish, being committed defensively.”
- Dirk Nowitzki continued his dominant run in March as the Mavericks rolled past the Denver Nuggets 112-95 for their fourth consecutive victory while snapping a seven-game road skid — the longest streak in more than 13 years. Averaging 24.8 points this month, Nowitzki was rolling on all cylinders as he had 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists while Vince Carter and Rodrigue Beaubois chipped in with 14 points apiece. Dallas won the season series and moved 1 1/2 games above the Nuggets who lost Andre Miller to a bruised shoulder but more importantly lost Danilo Gallinari to a fractured left thumb. He will likely miss about a month, which made the debut of Wilson Chandler that much more crucial. Center JaVale McGee dressed but did not play.
- After going through the motions in the first half, Philadelphia stepped up its defense to blow past the league-worst Charlotte 105-80. The Bobcats shot 29% from the field after the first half and were outscored 59-36. Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young scored 20 points apiece while Louis Williams added 19 points. The Sixers snapped a three-game losing streak and remain 1 1/2 games above the Celtics.
- An ugly shooting game unfolded between two defensive-minded teams but Boston came out on top against the Atlanta Hawks 79-76 to snap a two-game losing streak. Despite some struggles and ugly bumps along the way, the Celtics are a respectable 3-3 during the current road trip. The score was 51-50 after the first three quarters before both teams poured it on in the final period. Ray Allen led Boston with 19 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points, 13 assists and six steals.
- Two rookies stepped up as Cleveland visited and defeated the Nets 105-100 to end a three-game losing streak. Tristan Thompson — in just his second start of the season — had a career high 27 points with 12 rebounds while fellow rookie Kyrie Irving had 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Deron Williams had 28 points, eight assists and did this to the rookies while Gerald Wallace had his first breakout game for his new team and matched Thompson’s 27 points and 12 rebounds. After losing five of their last six games, Williams was visibly upset and avoided reporters for the first time this season.
James Park is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on twitter.