The day after he was booed at Oracle Arena during the jersey retirement ceremony for Chris Mullin, Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob expressed some regret and resolve.
The historic night was all the buzz Tuesday, but not because Mullin finally got his No. 17 placed in the rafters. Instead, the day-after talk was all about Lacob becoming the dartboard for Warriors' fans frustration.
"I was a little bit stunned that it went on as long as it did or as loud as it was," Lacob said in an interview with KNBR.
"Last night was not easy," he added. "No one wants to be booed by what felt like 20,000 people. ... This is what I wanted. This is what we wanted. I know it's not easy and I know not everyone is going to agree with us or me."
Warriors fans were widely criticized by many for being classless. Many thought their public disapproval of Lacob, the trade of guard Monta Ellis and the decades-long futility of the franchise stole the attention from Mullin.
While Golden State fans are perhaps justified in their indignation, the problem for many was the timing.
"I think fans always have a right to voice their opinion," said popular sports talk radio host Tom Tolbert, Mullin's former teammate who was part of the ceremony. "Because what they did is not convey a message to Lacob, they kind of embarrassed the whole evening, and it was a celebration of Chris. It ended up not being a celebration of Chris. It ended up being an embarrassment of the
Mullin, however, said he didn't feel his night was tainted.
"Not one bit," he told Yahoo! Sports. "It seemed more directed toward other things."
Lacob on Tuesday defended his trading of Ellis. He defended the strides the franchise has made and referenced the work being done. On multiple occasions, he implored the fans to be patient.
But Lacob stopped well short of railing against his fan base.
"I don't blame them at all," Lacob said on air. "I'd rather not be at the butt end of their booing, but it is what it is. I just want everybody to know we have worked very hard, we're continuing to work very hard, to change this franchise for the better in the short term and the long term."
Lacob said he should have done a few things differently. He said if he had to do all over again, he would have talked through initial boos instead of waiting for the crowd to be silent. He also acknowledged he shouldn't have spoken after Mullin, the guest of honor.
But Lacob stood by his decision to speak though some would say he should have anticipated the negative reaction from fans in light of the trading of Ellis.
"Honestly, we felt it was the right thing to do," Lacob said. "People were clamoring for honoring Chris Mullin around here. He was dismissed by the organization in an unfair way. ... We felt it was important to not be silent on the matter."
As he has been since the team pulled the trigger on March 13, Lacob defending his decision to trade Ellis. He acknowledged Ellis' popularity but said Golden State got the better end of the deal even though center Andrew Bogut is injured and likely out for the season (fractured left ankle).
Lacob said he expects the fans will come around after Bogut produces and the Warriors start winning.
"I will say this - our fans are great fans and they are passionate," Lacob said. "If they weren't passionate and didn't care, that would be a bigger problem for us. I'm not mad at them. ... At the end of the day, when it's all said and done, it's about winning. We need to win."
* Lacob also revealed the Warriors might end up with their first-round pick after all.
"We think we can get our pick back regardless," Lacob said. "We've had discussions with Utah. ... It's not a done deal. ... We think we can get our pick back."
Golden State's first-round choice in the 2012 NBA draft is slated to go to Utah (via New Jersey) based on a trade from 2008. The pick is top seven protected, which means the Warriors get to keep their first-rounder if they land one of the top seven picks.
Based on its current record, Golden State would most likely pick No. 9 in the draft. However, if the lose a large chunk of their remaining 23 games, they could wind up keeping their selection.
In case they don't, the Warriors have been engaged in discussions with Utah that may ensure Golden State keeps its first round pick.
According to a team source, general manager Larry Riley has been working on this for months. However, nothing can happen until the draft lottery takes place and the draft order is nailed down.
At that point, if the Warriors land the No. 8 pick or lower, talks with Utah will probably heat up. The Warriors would not give up one of their core players to the Jazz in exchange for the pick, the source said.
The likelihood is the Warriors would offer a package highlighted by their three picks -- the first-round pick they got from San Antonio in the Stephen Jackson trade and the two second-round picks they own. Another option is to come to agreement that allows the Warriors to keep their selection this year and have the Jazz take Golden State's first-rounder next year.
The trade agreement already calls for Utah getting the Warriors' 2013 first-rounder if the Warriors wind up keeping this year's pick. Next year's pick would then be top-six protected, meaning the Warriors only keep the pick if they land one of the first six picks.
Golden State perhaps could try to get Utah to allow the Warriors to keep this year's pick in exchange for less restrictions next year. If the Warriors' tweak the deal to make next year's pick top-three protected, it would make it much more likely that pick goes to Utah.
"We will work diligently toward anything we can do that will help us in regards to this year's pick and any other pick," Riley said.