“Victorious, yeah we warriors
We make history, strive for victory”
Kanye West, “Amazing“
The Golden State Warriors made history yesterday with their 73rd win, a record previously held by the Chicago Bulls from during Michael Jordan’s tenure.
The Warriors’ historic N.B.A. season is obviously the mark of a talented team––on and off the court. Behind the scenes, Warriors CEO and Co-Executive Chairman Joe Lacob gets a lot of credit for his brilliant management, as featured last week in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. To further highlight Lacob’s role in the Warriors’ success, I resurrected my interview with him from a venture capital event last year during the team’s championship season. No doubt, this 30-minute conversation will be interesting to basketball fans and entrepreneurs alike.
For those unfamiliar with the history of the Warriors: a few years ago, the team was a beleaguered one. Then in 2010, Lacob––at the time a partner at Kleiner Perkins––and a group of investors bought the Warriors and masterminded one of the greatest turnarounds in sports history. Today, the Warriors is one of the best franchises in sports.
In the interview, Joe Lacob shares details on the efforts behind the Warriors transformation and draws parallels between entrepreneurship and sports management. Here are a few notable quotes from the interview:
Lacob on the similarities between managing a sports team and building a business. Both have similar challenges, and it’s hard to reap returns:
“A lot of it is similar to what we do in venture. You gotta build management teams, you have to have a strategy, you have to raise money…”
Lacob on how in both business and sports, we tend to wait too long to make management changes. When Lacob took over as majority owner, he knew from his experience in venture capital that sometimes you need to make the difficult decision to put the right leadership in place in order to succeed. In May 2014, he named Steve Kerr head coach, and Kerr went on to be critical to the Warriors championship season the following year.
“We all make the decision to change CEOs too late…sports is no different from business.”
Lacob talking openly about getting booed by 20,000 people for his management changes. While it certainly feels bad to be criticized, he says, it’s important to expect criticism, develop thick skin, and have the conviction to make the changes you believe are necessary for success:
“You have to have an expectation that you are going to be criticized.”
Lacob on losing Jeremy Lin as a Warriors player. He likens the loss to developing talent at a startup and then losing the talent due to mismanagement:
“What I hate is developing assets and letting them go.”
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Undeniably, Joe Lacob has made brilliant decisions as majority owner of the Golden State Warriors. As the team advances in the playoffs, I’ll be rooting for them and Lacob to win the championship. Go, Warriors!
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