Programming note: Coverage of Lakers-Warriors starts Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
OAKLAND – It has been nearly 1,000 days since Joe Lacob's infamously rude christening as Warriors owner. What began as a jersey-retirement ceremony for Chris Mullin climaxed when fans clobbered the new guy with every weapon they could pull from their throats.
It was ugly, and it made the night unforgettable. Lacob was in the right place at the wrong time, and the stream of vitriol was much less connected to his trade of popular guard Monta Ellis than to his own perceived arrogance and the countless sins of reclusive former owner Chris Cohan.
Here's what Lacob would like us to remember: The new CEO pointed to the Oracle Arena rafters and declared a championship future for the Warriors.
And, like him or not, he has done much in his power to deliver.
His decision Friday to give Klay Thompson a four-year contract extension worth $70 million is just the latest example.
Debate if you will whether Thompson is worth it, but the current NBA landscape insists that he is. If Ricky Rubio can get $55 million over four years and Kemba Walker can get $48 mil over four, the market suggests Thompson gets what he got.
And Lacob decided to pay it, even if it pushes the Warriors toward the luxury tax threshold. There was, for certain, considerable grousing and grumbling and lollygagging along the way. But when the ticking of the clock got loud and championship fantasies started dancing in his head, the boss paid up.
It was as if Lacob remembered why he got into this. He wanted to do something epic, to transform a forlorn and competitively moribund franchise into something that radiated excellence. Lacob and his co-owner, Peter Guber, sought to change the way folks look at the Warriors.
They are succeeding. Wildly.
The Warriors are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 22 years and are fully expected to make it three in a row for the first time 38 years. Though Lacob's plan to move to San Francisco displeases some Warriors loyalists, those beyond the region consider it a bold march toward a brighter future.
Lacob practically wrestled legendary basketball figure Phil Jackson for the right to pay Steve Kerr a salary of more than $4 million per year. It was expensive to pry associate head coach Alvin Gentry from the Clippers and to lure veteran assistant Ron Adams from the Celtics.
But this is the Lacob Way. His recruitment of Jerry West 3 1/2 years ago was a sure sign of big thinking and his hiring of Mark Jackson a couple weeks later was a sure sign of bold thinking. Lacob went out of the box to hire general manager Bob Myers and climbed to the top of somebody else's box when he persuaded highly respected executive Rick Welts to leave the Phoenix Suns.
That's hubris. That's ambition without regard to limits.
Regardless of how you view the Thompson extension, it furthers the belief that Lacob is out to win, damn the expense. I don't doubt for a minute that one of the reasons the Thompson negotiations dragged on until the final hours is that Lacob wanted to win the negotiation game.
He didn't. But in sacrificing that, Lacob did what he and those around him believe is necessary to keep this team on an upward trajectory. He's not being reckless, though, surely realizing TV revenue will rise dramatically in a couple years.
Still, it's impressive how Lacob will not allow cost to get in the way of improving the product. In the wake of the Thompson extension, which goes into effect next season, Lacob now runs the only team in the NBA with five players earning or contractually set to earn at least $11 million per year. His coaching staff might be the highest paid in the league. His player payroll is moving in that direction.
It appears Lacob meant what he said on that March night in 2012. He is driven to add to the "lonely" championship banner at Oracle. He might make mistakes along the way, but his wallet will be riding "shotgun" with his mouth.