OAKLAND -- They were globally insignificant and, on the whole, an object of civic ridicule. There had been so much failure and futility, so much shameful history, so many years of shoddy product peddled by an infernally inept ownership.
So how could Warriors CEO Joe Lacob's brash promise -- to truly, seriously fix this franchise -- be greeted with anything but skepticism? Even optimists were withholding judgment until there was tangible proof.
And now, a mere 30 months after the Lacob-Warriors marriage was consummated with a solemn vow of superior quality and eternal commitment, we can see it and feel it.
Furthermore, the men on the roster that completed the most satisfying Warriors season in 36 years also can see it and feel it.
Traded to the Warriors last July, veteran guard Jarrett Jack was thrilled with a season that ended Thursday with a loss to San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals.
"As soon as I walked into the locker room, I looked down at my jersey," Jack said. "There's a sense of pride that I have wearing it that I haven't had as a professional."
This is a man who has been in the league for eight years, has played for five franchises. And he's talking about the Warriors.
Center Andrew Bogut, also finishing his eighth year, was acquired by the Warriors 14 months ago in a trade that sent star guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee. Bogut senses there has been a dramatic change in franchise culture.
"I've been impressed with the organization since I got here," he said. "It's been sensational. Everything's first-class here. The stories heard prior to this year," he understated, "they weren't pretty stories."
The Warriors surely would, if they could, expunge the 16-year ownership of Chris Cohan. They'd wipe away such lowlights as the Don Nelson-Chris Webber spat that haunted the franchise for a decade, during which time another player, Latrell Sprewell, choked coach P.J. Carlesimo and received a one-year suspension.
The franchise under Cohan endured 12 consecutive losing seasons and hired nine different head coaches, including Nelson twice. It went Cohan's final 13 years without a representative in the All-Star game, whiffing on draft picks every step of the way, while curiously calling upon such veterans as 7-foot-7 center Manute Bol and 5-foot-3 guard Muggsy Bogues.
Cohan's Warriors were about transparent office politics, constant power struggles and subjective punishments. It was enough to almost understand why Mookie Blaylock skipped a game to go play golf.
Those Warriors were, quite simply, a joke of a sorry circus act.
"Now it's like night and day," Bogut said. "Just the way they treat us off the floor. The staff, the media, everybody has been great."
Lacob and his partners, notably the signifying entertainment executive Peter Guber, have fixed the Warriors about as much as anyone could in 21/2 years. Faithful and long-suffering fans are delighted, cynics at least mildly surprised.
Suddenly, Bay Area streets are filled with T-shirts and caps worn by previously inconspicuous fans now tumbling out into the open.
Lacob walked through the door in November 2010 promising a "new day," a franchise that would be elite, equal to the Lakers and Celtics. He brought in the legendary Jerry West as a board member and consultant and took a chance on a coach in whom he believed, Mark Jackson, who never had coached at any level.
Among those who had witnessed so many years of Warriors despair that fiascos were the norm, there was no shortage of doubt about this new owner.
We are 14 months removed from the night Warriors fans treated Lacob like an unscrupulous reprobate at Oracle. The booing that filled his ears were for many things, from his promises to make the playoffs to his affinity to make major announcements in San Francisco to his eagerness to leave Oakland and the trade of a popular player, Ellis, for a big man whose future was unclear.
Lacob was stung by the reaction but accepted it, perhaps realizing the heat pent up from the stridently unnerving Cohan years, during which the former owner became increasingly reclusive.
There is no knowing what the future holds, not for certain, but this franchise presently is alive and vibrant. The Warriors under Lacob and Guber have been repackaged and impressively re-branded.
Lacob never got much of a honeymoon. It comes now. He has earned it.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.