When the New York Times profile came out on how Joe Lacob and other venture capitalists took over the Golden State Warriors and turned them into a juggernaut, the sticking point for almost everybody wasn’t how Lacob and his ownership group had turned the organization around. It was about the comment from Lacob that seemed to be dismissive of every other team in the NBA — no matter what their franchise success had been.
Lacob said the Warriors were “light years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.” It’s hard to fault him for being so braggadocios about his team. They were 67-7 when the profile came out, had just won a championship, and looked to be on the verge of a second-straight title. Shortly after that, they finished with the best record in NBA history, hit some injury misfortune with Stephen Curry in the early parts of the playoffs, and eventually ended up losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a historic collapse.
The collapse in the NBA Finals made the “light years” quote even more of a running joke around the NBA. Brian Windhorst of ESPN said recently on a podcast that over the last four or five months, a reference to Lacob’s quote is often made by an agent or executive or coach.
In within the NBA, there’s a belief that the Warriors are a bit arrogant. The story that was in the New York Times Magazine this spring with Joe Lacob where he issued the quote: “We’re light years ahead of everybody.” That quote has been a touchstone throughout the league. I can’t tell you how many times in the last four or five months, when I’m talking with other people in the league, whether it’s agents or executives or whomever, coaches… There’s the reference, “Well, they are light years ahead so they’ll be fine.”
It’s not surprising that this is a running joke around the NBA. The comment was dismissive of even the great organizations and such a highly competitive environment like the NBA isn’t going to take kindly to that, especially when you end up being the first team in NBA history to lose the Finals with a 3-1 series lead. Some people wonder if there has even been some kind of karmic revenge for the comment that ended up being prolifically highlighted by the Warriors’ collapse and even Curry’s injury.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape from before and after the profile came out on March 30:
|Categories||Before ‘light years’||After ‘light years’*|
|Point Differential||+11 per game||+5.1 per game|
(* – includes postseason)
It’s pretty clear that karma hit Lacob where it hurts: the team’s record and overall dominance. Or things just randomly went wrong and it’s easy to point to this comment and say that it was the Warriors’ undoing.
Either way, they signed Kevin Durant this summer and look to be heavy title favorites again for at least a couple of years. Maybe they are still light years ahead of the NBA?
Source: CBS Sports / Joe Lacob’s ‘light years ahead’ quote has a joke around in NBA circles