By Jack Golub
I’ve been thinking lately that I have to go see a Warriors playoff game. Oracle Arena may be old by NBA standards, but it’s a booming, beautiful house of basketball. Plus, after this year when KD finds a new team, the Warriors dynasty will hopefully reach a merciful conclusion. Merciful to the rest of the league, that is; I hope they crash and burn hating each other, and Draymond has to be held back from strangling someone. It’s my last chance to watch what will go down as one of the iconic teams in basketball history in one of the sport’s historic landmarks.
Checking Stubhub now, it looks like it’ll run me at least $150 to get the cheapest nosebleed available. Is that a sound financial investment? If I stay home I can probably get a better view of the game on TV. But there’s something about witnessing the game in person that makes it feel real. It defies logic.
Sports teams are luxury buys, not careful financial investments. Owner’s don’t own teams because they are trying to make more money. Look at the Worst Owner in Sports®, James Dolan. He owns MSG, which owns both the Knicks and the Rangers, in addition to Madison Square Garden, itself. Yet he spends most of his time throwing money at actually talented musicians so that they might join him on tour. The purpose of this example is not to trash his hot balloon-sized inflated ego combined with an utter lack of talent. Instead, it demonstrates that owning a team is not a decision based on finances but one based on status.
When Lacob and Co. bought the Warriors, they didn’t do so because they were looking to diversify their assets. They wanted to own the Warriors. It’s the reason that explains why Lacob brags about being “light years” ahead of other teams and acts like he is somehow personally responsible for this era of greatness. His ego feasts on the Warriors’ success. His team is valuable to him for its impact on his image. As a result, he is going to make decisions about the team based on what’s best for his image. Which is why he is moving the team to San Francisco.
In order to believe in the good of building a new stadium in a city that is desperate for more housing, you must first defy logic. I’ll credit the Warriors for not getting any public money, although if you asked their president Rick Welts about it he’d tell you that it was practically a crime that they had to pay for their new stadium all by themselves. It doesn’t make sense for the Warriors to get a brand-new arena when there are so many homeless people. Sure, Oracle is old. It’s not like the fans aren’t enjoying it or that the team is struggling for it. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
That’s where I get stuck. I really want to watch this era of greatness in person. I want to be there even if it doesn’t make sense. Am I willing to spend hundreds of dollars to that end? Is it just for me to give that money, when it might not make sense, to a team that’s going to use that money to take up space in a city that is sorely lacking for that resource — space? Maybe I’m making a moral quandary out of nothing. I’ll probably end up still going to a game. The decisions we make as fans send signals to our teams. By buying tickets, we condone behavior. Consider the implications.
Contact Jack Golub at golubj ‘at’ stanford.edu.