Chris Cohan

Cohan says no to Ellison, keeps sale among friends

Chris Cohan has never cared about winning a championship. One doesn’t do everything he can to avoid the luxury tax, swallow trade exceptions and allow people like Robert Rowell to negotiate contracts if the overriding goal is rings. Cohan won his version of a championship ring today, when he sold the Warriors not just for a record-breaking sum of $450 million, but sold the team to the wrong bidders — in the fans’ eyes, at least.

Now it’s business ethics time. From a statement made by Larry Ellison, via Tim Kawakami:

“Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else.  In my experience this is a bit unusual.  Nonetheless, I wish the Warriors and their fans nothing but success under their new ownership,” said Larry Ellison.

In a surreal and sublimely entertaining interview this afternoon, Damon Bruce was able to fluster Galatioto (who after his shaky performance today should never be allowed to speak on the radio ever again) with actual legitimate questions, and Galatioto spoke like a spurned lover when explaining how Ellison made his last bid too late.

Galatioto made a reference to LeBron James having a chance to shoot the winning shot at the buzzer, but waiting 3 minutes and going back onto the court after the game to shoot it instead. He called Ellison “unethical.” (Galatioto also said he “morally” couldn’t advise Cohan to accept Ellison’s higher bid in an interview with Matt Steinmetz.). He called Cohan a “friend,” and sounded buddy-buddy with Lakob as well. He even stuck up for Cohan’s ownership abilities (even citing the team’s injury issues; it sounded like Bob Fitzgerald had switched from 680 to 1050 for a moment).

So we either believe Ellison that Cohan didn’t take his bid, or we believe Galatioto (and by extension, Cohan) when he says that Ellison didn’t play by the rules. The truth may be somewhere in between, even though Galatioto’s speech patterns would lead us to believe that anything coming out of his mouth was/is an outright lie.

But c’mon. Ellison didn’t play by the rules? And Galatioto is supposedly the moral compass here? Until the ink is dry, more money means more money. So unless Ellison’s lying about offering more (and I’m not sure why he’d do so, unless he gets off on the regional Cohan-hate as much as guys like myself and Kawakami do), Cohan seemed motivated to keep the team out of the supposed savior’s hands.

Cohan, Galatioto, Lakob, Guber, Rowell … they’re all friends, folks. Cohan didn’t want the people’s choice to come in on his yacht and sail away toward the franchise’s first championship since 1975. He never wanted the Mark Cuban of California (only with more money) to excite the Warrior fans that Cohan strung along for so many bleak seasons.

While sounding like a character on The Sopranos, or one of those guys that sells his gambling services on the radio (Call me now, and you get Monday Night’s stone-cold lock FREE!), Galatioto spoke with utter disdain about Ellison. This whole thing got personal, and doesn’t that make sense when it came to Cohan’s last stand? Forget how wrong I was about Ellison buying the team (although I’m not going to blame myself since this was a supposedly private auction where the negotiating became VERY public), ignore the speculation about what an Ellison regime would bring, but remember this: Cohan hates us all. He really does. He’s a member of a club none of us will ever know, and he wanted to keep the team in the club he was comfortable with. If there was a way he could stick it to the fans who have made his last name a 4-letter word for so long, Cohan was going to do it.

So for those of us who took for granted that an ownership change would mean a completely new regime, we need to take a step back. It’s quite possible that Rowell will be back. That Larry Riley will be back. That Don Nelson, Fitz, the athletic trainers, the midget dunkers at halftime — they’ll all be back. Why else were the current group so comfortable changing uniforms and logos? How else could you explain how a lame duck general manager was allowed to trade Corey Maggette, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Morrow for Dan Gadzuric, Charlie Bell, David Lee and a $2.6M trade exception?

Ellison’s tried to buy the team on multiple occasions, and Cohan dug in his heels every time. Combine the cronyism displayed by Galatioto, all the sources reporting that Ellison had actually bought the team two days ago and the Rowell/Riley front office acting as if they’d all still have jobs after the sale, and a lot smells fishy here. The rational part of me wants to say it’s a great day because Cohan is gone, and that we should withhold judgment on Lakob and the unfortunately named Peter Guber (pictured) until we see how they do business. My cynical side feels like the team is going to be run in the same fashion, with the same people in power, and there’s no reason to celebrate. Too bad that around here — especially when talking about the Warriors — cynicism is usually where the money is.

And for Cohan, money and retribution are as good as a championship. He doesn’t want a real ring; this man lives to win court cases, not basketball games. On this day, when Cohan made millions of dollars and disappointed the fans who hate him at the same time, it’s champagne-popping time.

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