What started as a nostalgic journey honoring Warriors legend Chris Mullin night turned sour as soon as Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob grabbed the microphone.
The ceremony to retire Mullin's No. 17 jersey -- held at halftime of Golden State's 97-93 loss to Minnesota on Monday night -- was interrupted as fans mercilessly booed Lacob.
"What I feel bad about is it kind of ruined a night that was very special," Lacob said. "I feel bad for Chris more than anything else.—
Mullin became the sixth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired -- joining Rick Barry (24), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Al Attles (16), Nate Thurmond (42) and Tom Meschery (14).
But it was Lacob, or more accurately Warriors fans, who stole the show, voicing their displeasure with last week's trade of star guard Monta Ellis.
For several minutes, following Mullin's speech, Lacob was interrupted by a chorus of jeers and chants of "We Want Monta!" from many of the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena. It was uncomfortable enough that Mullin got back up to encourage the fans to be patient with Lacob and the new ownership.
"Everything will work out just fine," Mullin said, his arm around a rattled Lacob. "Take that passion and point it in the right direction.—
When Mullin finished speaking, the fans cheered again. But as soon as Mullin sat down, and Lacob began to speak, the boos rang out again. And louder, drowning out the cheers of fans trying
That prompted Barry to get up and chastise the fans, calling the display "classless.—
Eventually, Lacob got through his speech and presented the Mullin family with a week vacation in Maui. After that, Mullin's daughter led the unveiling of the jersey and the ceremony, finally, was complete.
"Awkward. Uncomfortable," said Tom Tolbert, one of Mullin's former teammates. "Justified? No. Surprising? No.—
The ceremony started so smoothly, too. Mullin got several ovations. Several of his friends -- including Tolbert, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Sarunas Marciulionis and coach Don Nelson -- were on hand and offered kind words. A video tribute reminded fans of his Hall of Fame career.
"This is where it all started for me as a pro," Mullin said. "I came in as a young man. I made mistakes. I worked hard to redeem myself. And by the grace of God I am here today. I grew up right here in front of you. You, the Warrior fans, were a huge part of my success.—
Then, Lacob stepped to center court.
Those same Warriors fans, who were constantly praised for being the best, showed their dark side. Frustrated by yet-unfulfilled promises of new ownership, the trading away Ellis and another losing season, many Warriors fans stopped showering Mullin with love and pointed their frustration at Lacob.
The jersey retirement is the latest in a host of honors bestowed on Mullin. He was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in August. Three months later, he was named to the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his career at St. John's. But he said his hey day with the Warriors was the "most fun I had playing basketball in my whole life."
In 13 seasons with Golden State, Mullin made five All-Star teams and four All-NBA teams -- including first team in 1992-92. He is the second player in franchise history to average 25 points per game for five consecutive years (Chamberlain was the other).
Mullin ranks top 10 all-time in franchise history in several categories. He's first in games played (807) and steals (1,360), second in free throw percentage (86.2), fourth in points (16,245) and assists (3,146) and 10th in scoring average (20.1).
"It's my honor," Mullin said, "to join the greats of this franchise and to be surrounded by my teammates, my coach. Although we never achieved the ultimate in a championship, I wouldn't trade it for the people in this room."
Mullin also led the Warriors to five postseason appearances. Lacob promised a playoff appearance this season, but Warriors are well on their way to another losing record and the draft lottery.
Still, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Lacob didn't deserve to be booed. He said, based on the big picture of the Lacob era, fans should appreciate the fact management has a "game plan, one they'd appreciate if they just stepped back and analyzed it."
Lacob said he won't "let a few boos get me down" and that he knows the cure for the fans' disdain for him.
"Everybody has to stay tough," he said. "These are tough times, we're going to go out there and we're going to compete and we're going to win. And that's my job as an owner, too. We're going to do everything we have to do. I obviously think whoever was booing is incorrect in their assumptions, but we'll just let time heal all wounds. Winning will solve all things.—
"Knowing him and everything he's done since Day 1, I wouldn't boo him," Jackson said. "It was a great night, a night that would not have been possible without Joe Lacob."