I heard about the Golden State Warriors (hey, Joe Lacob says they could keep that name forever and ever…) press conference at Piers 30-32 last night, then found out I was allowed to attend this morning. Plenty of security for this one — not a surprise as I knew San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee would be there, along with as NBA Commissioner David Stern. But there was another late-arriving guest I wasn’t expecting (more on him later).
It’s an interesting time in Bay Area sports. Regardless of your feelings on what billionaires do with their money, the fact that so many teams either moved (the Giants) are moving (the 49ers) or could move (the three Oakland teams) means, within 10 years or so, each of the major professional teams in the Bay Area could be playing in different facilities than they were in back in 1999 (besides the San Jose Sharks).
I also attended the San Francisco 49ers’ groundbreaking event in Santa Clara a month ago. Today’s event wasn’t a “groundbreaking” since nobody knows for certain when or if the Warriors will ever put a shovel in the ground at Piers 30-32. It also wasn’t much of a press conference, instead it was more like a free advertisement. No questions were taken during the main event, just short speeches by several individuals with varying degrees of involvement with this proposed project. There were Q&A sessions with David Stern, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, however.
It was a pretty surreal scene:
— A vacant pier with rows of chairs, filled mostly with season ticketholders it appeared (based on the amount of applause garnered by nearly every statement uttered by the guys on stage).
— A group of sports executives and politicians we’ll probably never see again on the same stage.
— The whole thing was hosted by Ahmad Rashad, for whatever reason. Tim Kawakami’s theory is my favorite:
Then again, I can’t get enough Bay Area media infighting. It’s really too bad Fitz isn’t on Twitter. Anyway, here’s Claire Huxtable’s ex-husband:
Here’s how the stage looked from where I sat. Notice the empty seat?
Ed Lee gave the first speech. He is not a tall man.
Then Lacob spoke, followed by
Vice President co-owner Guber. Guber’s a fiery guy who’s got a little Joe Biden in him, in that Lacob probably never knows what Guber’s going to say. Guber didn’t disappoint, starting his speech off with a joke about his own libido.
If you’ve ever been to a Warriors press conference, you know there will be promises galore. Today, it was Guber’s turn to make a promise:
Since it was nearly impossible to mine anything concrete from this set of speeches, the sheer entertainment value of listening to Guber speak was one of my two favorite things about this informercial. Surprisingly, Stern didn’t make that list. He didn’t say a lot during a short speech, although he had some interesting comments later that morning (video of that is on its way).
Stern was definitely worried about the wind messing with his tie.
This is what Jerry West looks like when people list his accomplishments. What was he thinking about? The 1969 NBA Finals?
About five minutes into the presser, Gavin Newsom showed up fashionably late and filled the empty seat next to West. When it was his turn to speak, he was by far the most relaxed.
Two of the buttons on his shirt were undone, and he dropped the same Pericles quote he uttered at his 2007 election victory party. Then he enthusiastically let everyone know the answer to a question many people were thinking: why the hell is California’s Lieutenant Governor here?
And there you have my other favorite thing about the press conference. I’d like to think that Newsom and Guber met up in North Beach and tossed a few back after this. It seems like they’d get along quite well.
A few other people gave short speeches, including Mark Jackson (who had perhaps the line of the day, referencing the fact that the chances he’ll still be around in 2017 are fairly remote: “That’s 2017 man, how many coaches will be around in five years…”) and David Lee (who is in Lacob’s back pocket). After everyone was finished, it was totally-not-awkward photo op time!
As I was leaving I noticed for the first time how close the Warriors’ preferred site is to AT&T Park.
Will they end up moving even closer to AT&T, after the environmental impact reports are in and the regulatory committees sink their teeth into these new arena plans (whatever they are)? We’ll have to wait and see.