It is the opinion of Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob that his franchise's brilliant success is a result of everything being "extremely thought through."
This is what successful people always say. I am always amused to hear people claim themselves to be "self-made men," disregarding in many cases the millions of dollars their dad left them in the will, or the fine luck of winning the DNA lottery (because if you are born smart instead of born dumb, you really didn't do anything to deserve that other than exiting your mother's womb) or simple good fortune ... dominoes falling just so, as they do for all of us.
Take Mark Cuban. If he is not raised just so by Pittsburgh parents Norty and Shirley, and not allowed by them to be a young teen selling Cleveland newspapers in The Steel City during a Pittsburgh newspaper strike ... and if he doesn't find his way to Indiana U., and doesn't then move to DFW ... and doesn't hang out at my old Dallas radio station 570 KLIF in order to discover a way to use a computer to listen to his beloved back-home Hoosiers, and ... on and on and on.
It took 1,000 links in a chain for Mark Cuban to become a billionaire. It wasn't "just because he is smart" or "just because he is lucky."
I have discussed this many times with Cuban before and while he is at times not shy about boasting about his intelligence, and while admitting he is wrong does not come naturally to him ... he also doesn't pretend that "luck" is anything but a central part of his life.
Now back to the Warriors.
Lacob amassed his wealth in the venture capital business. He is quoted as saying, "I was a very poor kid. Had nothing. I paid every dime of my education through college. Every single dime. I was the first person to graduate from college in the history of my family. Ever. I came from nothing.''
Ah, one of those "self-made men,'' eh?
Lacob bought the Warriors in 2010, and the talent cupboard at the time was fairly bare.
You wish to argue that the Warriors had Steph Curry has a foundational player? That is simply not true circa 2010. The truth is Golden State had an interesting-but-smallish backcourt tandem of Curry (17.5 points and 5.9 assists, coming into his own after having been drafted No. 7 overall) and Monta Ellis (25.5 points and 5.6 assists) and within two years decided to do something with one of them.
The way none other then Cuban tells the tale, they offered either of the two guards in trade to Milwaukee in exchange for center Andrew Bogut. The Bucks picked Ellis. (Lacob himself confirmed this at the time, saying, "We would have traded either [Curry or Ellis] to take the next step for this franchise.’’)
Were the Warriors geniuses here?
The Splash Brothers were created shortly thereafter with the drafting of Klay Thompson. But was selecting Thompson with the 11th-overall pick really the act of visionaries? You decide yourself whether you believe that the Warriors knew that Thompson was going to be better than Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas, Tristan Thompson, Jimmy Fredette and all the other fellas taken ahead of him ... and whether they were really geniuses here.
These same visionary geniuses constructed a $40-million offer sheet for DeAndre Jordan -- the center they coveted before their "genius" acquisition of Bogut -- but lost out on Jordan when the Clippers matched.
Another 2010 acquisition, forward David Lee, was heralded as Lacob's signature move. He was on last year's title team, but second-round pick Draymond Green essentially took his job (were the Warriors really visionaries for knowing a second-round pick would be better than David Lee?) and good-guy Lee has been shuffled around the league since.
In 2013, the Warriors had another plan for a big man. They ended up being a bridesmaid, along with the Mavs, as Dwight Howard spurned them to instead go to the Rockets.
Lucky. ... Especially because their failure on Howard led them to Andre Iguodala (who might've ended up with Dallas has the Mavericks also not been bidding on and waiting on Dwight).
So if Dwight signs with the Warriors, Iguodala probably signs with Dallas. And who knows what happens from there ... 1,000 links in the chain, see?
And then a central shift in the way the Warriors are run: Lacob's initial plan called for Mark Jackson to coach his beloved team. It worked for a while; Jackson was in charge of a Golden State club that was returning to relevance before he seemingly got caught up in a series of weird power struggles and backstabbing contests within the organization.
I recall Lacob making the very difficult decision to fire Jackson and to replace him with a man who had never coached in the NBA before, Steve Kerr.
Lacob's springtime take on what he's built?
“We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things,'' he said. "None of this is an accident ... It’s architecting a team, a style of play, the way they all play together. It’s all extremely thought through.”
So ... Lacob and his lieutenants could see around the corners and knew all of this? Knew Steph would be better than Ellis and new Bogut would be fine instead of DeAndre and knew Iggy would work out better than Dwightmare and new Kerr would be a cook better coach than Jackson and new Curry would eventually supplant LeBron James as NBA's best player, complete with a head-to-head pair of titles while opposing The King?
Preposterous. This might have been "extremely thought through" but not more than it was "extremely fortuitous."
Now, in retrospect? The Warriors hit on so many correct personnel and staff moves, and on top of that, get credit for taking advantage of interchangeable defenders and a perimeter offense of game that is taking the NBA by storm.
But Nostradamus couldn't have seen all of that stuff coming. You can't "plan" for back-to-back titles. You pour your resources into the effort and you work your ass off and you cross your fingers real tight.
If you are a Mavericks fan and you are honest, you know this. The Mavs were lucky-and-good to have Dirk Nowitzki become an icon (wildly exceeding any of our dreams), lucky-and-good that Cuban bought the team from Ross Perot, lucky and good to have Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry and Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson and Peja and "The Janitor" and JJ Barea, for cryin' out loud, out-do LeBron and Wade in the backcourt in the 2011 NBA Finals and ...
I mean, how arrogant would the Mavericks have to be to try to convince you that all of that was specifically planned? How naive would you have to be to believe them?
No, you can't snap your fingers and be the Warriors. Nor can you meticulously design some specifically ingenious and visionary plan to mimic them. To be the 2011 Mavericks who won one championship, you need a mountain of breaks. (Paperclips becoming houses, you know?) To be the Warriors, on the verge of twice as many championships, you need twice as many mountains of breaks.
And then suddenly ... it's gone.
Golden State lost Game 7. There is no "dynasty.'' Lacob's way isn't smarter than Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert's "way'' (which, mostly, is to hire LeBron James.)
Lacob is positioning himself to look smart again with the Bay Area report that Golden State is going to court Dirk Nowitzki in free agency. (Dirk as the "Splash Father'' to the "Splash Brothers,'' see?) It's a frightening idea to Mavs fans, but this is infinitely less likely to happen than, say, Kevin Durant to Dallas. (Why? Because as recently as yesterday, KD says he's open to being courted for his "basketball decision.'' That's why the Mavs will make the call to Durant. Meanwhile, even with the back-and-forth on HOW he wants to be paid in Dallas, Dirk's intentions are much clearer -- and Dirk, traditionally, has literally not answered the phone when suitors like this come calling. Still ... frightening enough.)
The Mavs have plans for the summer of 2016 and beyond. (Click here and see our series of scoops and takes on those plans, as they unfold, here.) I'm not saying it's a random crapshoot. But it IS a crapshoot.
Dirk said it about right the other day when he discussed his own contractual options and noted, "Sometimes what it takes is to stay relevant, stick around, make a move, and get lucky."
It is often said derisively that "Hope is not a plan." Same thing goes for "luck," I suppose; "Luck is not a plan, either."
At the same time, contrary to what the pre-Game 7 Warriors would seem to have you believe, a successful plan without luck is no successful plan at all. And the post-Game 7 Warriors? Maybe Jonathan Tjarks will be right and Golden State's legacy is untarnished.'' But I assume that despite the Warriors feeling they're "light-years ahead,'' they wish they'd had a little more ... luck. And now, understandably, a little more Dirk.null