You’re likely familiar with the Golden State Warriors. You know. Three straight NBA Finals appearances. Two NBA titles. Superteam. Changed the entire way the NBA plays thanks to a reliance on excellent shooting and positionless defending. Those Warriors.
The face of those Warriors, and the catalyst for what can be accurately termed a revolution of an entire sport, was Steph Curry. His otherworldly shooting and scoring abilities opened everything up for Golden State, and his abilities are what attracted Kevin Durant to make a shocking move in free agency to join what was already the best team in the league, blown 3-1 lead or not.
Steph Curry won two consecutive MVP awards, the second one a unanimous decision, such was his skill on the court. And he did it all on one of the most team-friendly contracts in recent history, helping boost the franchise value from an estimated $750 million in 2014 to $2.6 billion in 2017 while earning much less than market value, a fact that enabled the Warriors to add a player like Kevin Durant in the first place.
Through it all, no one profited more directly from Curry’s accomplishments than Joe Lacob, Warriors owner and pseudo-Silicon Valley smart guy. You might remember his widely-mocked profile from June of last year, when Lacob tried to argue that whatever he was doing in the team offices was just as valuable as Curry’s on-court contributions:
[As] Lacob sees it, Curry’s dominance on the court, though essential, is inextricable from everything else he’s done with the franchise over the last few years, from knocking down the office walls to the Ellis trade. “It’s not just Steph Curry,” he told me once. “It’s architecting a team, a style of play, the way they all play together. It’s all extremely thought through.”
And sure, hey, good ownership is important. Let’s not forget that. There’s a reason cheap-ass, meddling owners rarely win titles, aside from Jeffrey Loria. But in sports, you can have all the open-office concepts you want, and it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win games. And Steph Curry won a hell of a lot of games.
Curry’s team-friendly deal expired after last season, and he eventually signed the largest contract in NBA history, for five years and $201 million. The definition of a max-deal, for the definition of a max-player. Except, somehow, that’s not what Joe Lacob wanted to do. According to Marcus Thompson’s new book Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry, Lacob wanted to lowball the two-time MVP.
Via an unlocked excerpt from The Athletic:
On top of that, as the Warriors prepared for the postseason, Warriors owner Joe Lacob was considering offering Curry a contract below the max, even though Curry has been one of the most underpaid players in all of sports over the last three seasons. Warriors general manager Bob Myers kept Lacob from bringing a reduced offer to the negotiating table, but it was enough of a thing that Myers reassured Curry of the franchise’s commitment.
Curry wound up getting the largest contract in NBA history: five years, $201 million. Myers said he when he saw the contract numbers laid out, he couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the figures. He will be the Warriors’ highest-paid player at $34.68 million in 2017-18 — after making roughly $12 million the season before. The final year of his contract will pay him more than $45 million.
What a colossal moron! Steph Curry helped make you billions, and you’re trying to scrounge a few million off his contract in return? How does that fit in with your brilliant “architecturing” or whatever you call it these days? Has no NBA owner learned from the Dan Gilbert saga?
You should definitely read that excerpt and buy Marcus’s book, though. If the whole thing is as insightful as that passage, you’ll likely learn a lot.