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Peter Guber: “You have to be inspiring, not just perspiring.”

Sorry for posting this so late. After I wrote my article, at Starbucks of course, I had lunch and went to see Inception with my wife. Somehow, after talking with Peter Guber, new co-owner of the Warriors, I had a craving to go watch a film.

I had a good conversation with Guber, who – much like his partner Joseph Lacob – got back to me practically right away. He sounds like you’d expect a Hollywood producer to sound – quick tongue, modern lingo, emotive tone. Not surprising that a guy with such an extensive resume in film production uses movies as points of reference.

Three things I walked away thinking: he’s passionate about this, he is going to be hands-on in making sure this venture doesn’t fail, and – though they’re not saying – they have a strong idea of how they are going to proceed.

So what is it like the day after such a landmark victory?
Ever go out and have a party, and the next day you can’t even remember who you danced with? And you hope you didn’t do anything stupid?”

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We’ve got a lot of work to do. This isn’t the end. This isn’t even the end of the beginning. This is the beginning of the beginning. I’ve been in this business for a long time. I kind of measure it as driving with one foot on the break and one foot on the gas.

There are different ownership styles, from Mark Cuban to Chris Cohan. Which will you take on?
I’ve made enormous numbers of televisions and movies. Some in which I have a great deal of visibility, some in which I was in the background. All of them have been my children and I worked on them ferociously.

We have an enormous investment. The kind of signature city, team, sport – it is a lightning rod and a beacon. You have to be able to manage the light and the heat. I’ve learned to do that as a benefit and a burden.

I have a partner that is very knowledgeable about the area, community, team, sport, which gives me a benefit. That partnership allows us to bring a whole different set of skills. We each bring benefits to it.

What is your vision for the Warriors?
The idea is, I think, that it’s about audience. It’s about story. It’s about winning. It’s about fan relationship. It’s about a lot of things. You have to be competitive. You have to be innovative. You have to be inspiring, not just perspiring.

After all it’s a sport and you’ve got to win, but you have to put buts in the seats, and you have to know who your audience is, and you have to understand the relationship between the fans and the team. All those touchstones matter.

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If you don’t touch the cloth, if you don’t touch the audience, if you don’t understand the story that is being told, your opinions are much less valuable. I do a lot of business in the Bay Area. And they play several games in LA and Phoenix. I will have a lot of opportunities to be with the people.
How will your background benefit you as a pro sports owner?
This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been around the horn a few times. We own several minor league baseball teams. I tried to buy the Lakers when I was with Sony. I don’t know how long you’ve been around, but a few years ago we were trying to buy the A’s. We owned a hockey team in Vegas, so we have experience in losing. We lost every year. I’ve been at that 13. 14 years. I’ve been around it quite a bit.

I’ve made several sports movies. We did Rudy. We did League of their Own. We’ve done wrestling movies – Vision Quest. We’ve done hockey movies – Youngblood. We’ve done every kind of sports movie. I’m a big sports movie fan, too. When I was after the movie The Blind Side, I called Billy Beane. I was involved with Billy Beane on the A’s sale and Micahel Lewis did Moneyball on Billy so I asked Billy to pull a string with Michael Lewis (author of The Blind Side novel)?

I have a background that I think will be very useful.

Is there a plan in place, ready to go as soon as you two are approved?
I think the plan is based upon intuition. It is based upon interaction. It is based upon the marketplace, based upon what is needed. But it’s not fire, ready, aim. It’s ready, aim, fire.
Which is the tougher industry, sports or the movie business?
Each of them has demons. With the movie business, the television business, you get one pitch. Imagine if a pitcher just got one pitch, as a player you got one shot. With movies you get one shot to nail it.

And you’ve never heard anyone say, ‘We’re going to the movies. Warner Bros. has a new film out.’ People go to see the movie. The brand is the movie itself. In sports, it’s different. But, at the same time, you’re rendering an experience.
Were you impressed with the business end of the Warriors, which is reputed for being surprisingly productive considering on-court failures?
That is a correct assessment. But, the status quo and the way it is, is never good enough. We have to be – as owners, as managers, as stewards of this franchise – we have to be better than that. We have to be constantly improving. We have to strive to be for excellence and challenge the incumbent. And the incumbent is our lethargy or our willingness to get comfortable.

Many fans wanted Larry Ellison to own the team. Do you feel like you can live up to the fans desires?
I have no idea the job he would’ve done. I am challenged by the job we have to do. The idea is we have the job, and we have to be up to it. We have to focus with two eyes on the front, not what would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, might’ve been.

And the reality is he lives in the that community. His company’s name is as sponsorship on the building. Hopefully we’ll have a good relationship with him, too. I’ve met him before while I was CEO of Sony and he was always impressive. I respect his market, his intelligence, his expertise. I think that we have to be the fact – Joe and I and people who are involved and invested in the community and the team – have to be willing to just move forward now. That’s really the issue. I can’t get into the mind of what somebody else might have done, or what somebody in the community would’ve thought about somebody I hardly know. I have all I can do, and I think Joe has all he can do, and we as our team have all we can do to do the job in front of us.

Are there changes you see that need to be made immediately?
One of the things I was made aware of by the media is that the current ownership had – let me put it this way –a less-than-a-strong dialogue with the media.

We have to understand that the media is not our adversary. They have a story to tell and a role to play and a job to do and they want to see the team succeed and they have to report and talk daily about what their point of view is. We have to respect their role in the circle and that’s what we intend to do. And I certainly have experience in that. Big time.
Will you bring some Hollywood luster to the organization like Baron Davis did?
I knew Baron when he was at Crossroads. He was always that guy. I think that’s great. Teams need that all the way up and down the food chain. But you know, I have a partner in several businesses, Magic Johnson. … My view is that you can’t have the shine unless there is substance, know what I mean? You’ve got to show up. You’ve got to have your feet, tongue, heart and wallet all going in the same direction. The key is you have to tell the right story to the right audience consistently over time in the right way. And Magic did it with performance and he did it with his tongue. When you do that, I think you have a chance to be successful on all fronts.

I think that the idea of bringing entertainment value, to improve the shine, to any asset is always a benefit. I really, really, do think that’s an important component today because these teams are an entertainment sport with 17, 18, 19,000 people live there. You have the media reporting about it all the time, you have it on television. So how you can not think it should be  compelling and entertainment. Winning is the center of it, but winning inside the context of providing fan experience and entertainment I think is crucial, too.
What is the percentage breakdown of ownership?
Well, Joe Lacob, my partner, it’s just the two of us at this moment. Just the two of us. We put our money, and our effort, reputation, time, energy, resources into it. Whoever else comes aboard will be a matter of what we want, when we want and how we want it, and what, of course, they want, I can’t answer that question any better than that.
Who will run the team?
We’re partners. We’re partners in the business. If there are issues that he has more expertise in, of course that will be what we lean on. The issues that I have more expertise on, we will lean on that. The methodology of all that is what we’ll be going through in the ensuing weeks. Right now, we’re in deal mode. I don’t mean that in a positive or negative way. But you can imagine what it took to get this transaction off the ground, know what I mean.

Marcus Thompson

  • ArmChair GM

    These dudes definitely sound like they know what they’re doing.

  • JimPunkrockford

    well it’s all over. i bid you Warriors fans a goodbye and genuine good luck. i can’t support a Guber team, just can’t do it. i will have a listing on ebay of Warriors shirts, hats, jerseys and jackets that i have bought over the last 20+ years as a Warriors fan. i think i’m gonna sell everything as one lot. be up soon. i’m serious when i say that i want the Warrior fans to finally get a winner, the ultimate irony will be that I won’t be with you guys to share it. i wish you guys the best.

  • Tony Hicks

    The guy has owned the team for five minutes and you can’t support the Warriors now? Uh – OK. Did your wife sleep with him or something?
    Marcus – Was this the group that was Magic was reported to be part of during the lead-up to the sale? I noticed he said it’s just the two of them right now, yet I’ve seen two stories that have him mentioning his relationship with Magic. If he’s not on board now, any reason to believe he will be? And, now that he’s eaten enough steroids to drive away the HIV, any chance we can use his muscle on the low block?

  • Steve

    Tony Hicks, “Jim” posted his feelings about Guber a few weeks ago.

    ——————————————

    JimPunkrockford Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Guber is the worlds biggest self-serving prick! really the best way to describe him is that he is “Cohan-y”, minus all the litigations. mass firings of employees right before Xmas with no severance, shady real estate dealings..etc. he is all about one thing, lining his pockets with money. he is a shyster in the first order. that is what he is famous for! hit up a little book on amazon “HIT AND RUN HOW JON PETERS AND PETER GUBER TOOK SONY FOR A RIDE IN HOLLYWOOD” or “Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street”. the dude is a huckster. i fear the truth would be Cohan part Duex if Guber where to be the new owner.

  • Sad Jose

    Thanks Marcus. This makes me optimistic, of course we’ll have to see. But more importantly- how was the movie?

  • jt

    He did mention that he owns other teams and he’s never been a winner…thats a little concerning, hopefully lacob’s celtics experience will balance that out…Why Larry? why? couldnt get that bid in a little quicker dammit?

  • jeff mullins

    Marcus, Tim, somebody. Please comment on Guber past with Sony and Jon Peters. I also have huge concerns with him. I really like Lacob.

  • Pboss

    Not sure about this guy. From what i’ve read, I like Lacob. He seems like a real sports fan who wants to win. I get the feeling Guber has more money in this and that is why Lacob partnered with him. He definitely doesn’t sound genuine. I don’t know, can’t put my finger on it yet. Just something about him I don’t like.

  • Sleepy in Hollow

    Marcus, thanks for the insights on the new owners and great job reporting the breaking news.

    Next interview suggestion, quiz Joe Lacob on his ‘decade long’ interest as a Warriors fan, how often he attended games, low points as a fan as well as the obligatory ‘We Believe’ questions. Some of the news leaking out on Lakob seems to indicate he really is a long-time Warriors fan with a passion for improving this franchise.

    Peter Guber, on the other hand, sounds like an LA/Hollywood type of guy with a sleazy shine to him; hope he stays in the background. I’m sure much will be written in the future about why Lakob chose Guber as a bride in this strange investor marriage of a VC partner and a Hollywood media guy.

    J. Lakob has learned valuable lessons in company building from his 20+ years at KPCB, the storied VC firm that has funded notable ‘home run’ start-ups as well as a very high failure rate of flaming busts. Hopefully his own personal investment as a Warriors fan in this franchise will give it a greater probability of a ‘home run’.

    Go Warriors!

  • Dre

    I hope these new dudes can put a winning product out there. We know they have made a large investment in the team but owning an NBA franchise is part profit and part hobby or part fan. Part hobby entails deep pockets and I do not know that these boys have the deep pockets that is requires to run a successful franchise.

    I hope that this is not another Cohan type ownership.

  • dj

    I’m a little skeptical of this guy. Lacob I like a lot.

  • BCP MIke

    Marcus,
    Forget the warriors for a minute. How was the movie?

  • Ken

    People have to remember that all the sports teams are groups with roughly the same resources, playing by the same rules. Logically, all teams should win roughly half and lose roughly half through a season.

    Of course, the Warriors record under Cohan’s ownership shows that it does not work out that way.

    BUT, what still should be remembered is that – even if a team improves itself, all of the other teams are doing likewise.

  • Doctor K

    I’m with the others, Lacob seems more sincere and grounded. As for Guber, when a guy says “trust me,” I tend to not trust him. He’s not saying that directly, but he’s a talker and a name dropper. Then again, we can’t judge him yet. I will giv him the benefit of the doubt. It’s refreshing to see that these guys are actually talking to the public (via media). They’ve already accomplished more in 2 days than Cohan did in 16 years.

  • dw

    Marcus I think you have to admit there’s still a lot of skepticism about these guys. The more they talk the more I feel like they are going to be more concerned about money than winning. He keeps talking about a story to tell and putting butts in the seats but we don’t have a problem putting butts in the seats, its the winning. Remember the slogan its a great time out? That was Cohan selling the story. What’s the differene with these guys? They’ll have a corny slogan too! Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Their just men.

  • PdelaSco

    Guber sounds like used car salesman. He never really answered any of MT’s questions and when he tried to, his responses didn’t seem genuine. He sure has “been around the horn” a few times. I feel like these guys (specially Gruber) will using the media to manipulate their message to the fans. Ultimatley, it’s all about winning. Get the W’s to the playoffs and beyond and i could give a sh*t about what u say Gruber. Just WIN!!!

  • PdelaSco

    It’s ironic, that the movie Inception is about theivery, hope, and redemption, 3 things Warriors fans have been feeling for the past 16 years. I hope Guber and Lacob focus on Redemption. We’re all too familiar with theivery and hope.

  • MWLX

    Don’t waste money on the movie unless you’re in the under-30 demographic. It reminded me of Matrix 2.

  • jack meyhoffer

    I’m feeling better a few days after the news ellison was’nt the owner.i really feel cohan did’nt want to sell to ellison. i feel ellison was late with the bid.i feel cohan wants the fans to see that it really is hard to own a team. somewhere in his mind that not selling to ellison and selling to these guys that he’s telling us, “watch its not that easy, when you dont have more money than God.”i would’nt be able to pick cohan out of a line up and i’ve seen almost every game in the last 14 years.at least 95%.

    the new owners will be more passionate about the team.they have more knowledge of basketball and entertainment but they’ll never have the funds at there disposal to build and pay the best management team for success.you can only pay players so much but cohan always payed players but he never built the management to what it needed to be.

  • Gswjerry

    All I’m hearing from this guy is keep coming to the games and buying jerseys and shirts so we can make our money back it doesn’t matter if we win or lose just give me your money and I will leave it up to lacob to do the basketball brain work so once again for all the warrior nation were gonna keep coming and buying warrior stuff but just bring us a contending team that’s going to bring us to the playoffs and and then win us a title if were golden state were the real kings of Cali so let’s show it buy winning

  • john

    Can everyone please lighten up bit! These guys have a contract that to buy the team. They don’t own it yet. We don’t know anything about their veracity, their will, their competence. There’s no rational reason they should be judged by their several media interviews. Let’s see what they do and don’t do once their names are on the bottom of the paycheck. Up until that time, it’s all conjecture, B.S., hope and fear. Can anyone here be adequately judged, I mean really assessed as to what kind of worker, manager, parent, etc., based on a 15 minute interview? We only know one thing for sure, it can’t be worse than Cohan. As far as the competency and vision of Ellison, who knows for sure he would be better or worse than this group. Plenty of guesses, but no one knows for sure.

  • lobo

    marcus…very good string of questions….pg sounds like a guy with both feet on the ground and you can be 100% certain they as every good football coach does….they have the first group of plays already scripted whether we like them or not….but that is a good thing.

  • lobo

    why the concern about who owns the team so much…the big thing is do they have enough sense to get the best talent to run the team…yeah, maybe ellison would have been a sexier owner but who cares really…if these guys have the saavy and the $$$ to get the best we will all be happy….i just don’t want to see top drawer guys who have been made offers turn the team down…that would be a bad sign

  • dan

    you know what? I don’t really care if the Guber or Lacob return reporters calls, so what. of course, reporters feel like they are important but who care.

    It is important that Guber and Lacob build a winning team. Lets get good players in here and win some games.

  • J-Walk

    I hope Gurber sticks to what he knows. Focusing his part of the ownership on marketing, branding and fan interaction. He has a history of being very good at those things. I like Lacob a lot. He’s a basketball junkie, competitor (7 handicap in golf), experienced owner. He knows the league, players and execs. I fell he has the knowledge to get this franchise off to a fast start with smart hires and the development of a plan. I only hope that Gruber defers to him in basketball related decisions and they work well together. The worst thing that could happen is infighting amongst the owners. It makes me nervous that Gurber wasn’t direct with Marcus’ question on who was going to be the man in charge.

  • Andres Reyes

    Congratulations to Peter Guber and Joe Lacob…I was like many fans assuming that Mr. Ellison would win the bidding process and when he didn’t I remembered a quotation from the Art of War

    “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
    - Sun Tzu, the Art of War

    I think Peter Guber and Joe Lacob knew their enemy and knew that Mr. Ellison would not bid beyond a certain million dollar range…and that there was probably some friction between Cohan and Ellison. I would love to see you uncover the details behind the bidding process…it would be a great book.

  • A’s in 2010

    Bobby Rowell is SOOOOO gone.

    That was my conclusion after reading this. And that’s great news. He’s absolutely redundant with Guber here. Get that P.O.S. Rowell away from our team. And NOW.

  • hubba dubba rock

    Listen to to that dude gswjerry tha truth and nathan but the truth…TCT 24 hunned block !!

  • Bill

    Guber….what a stream of platitudes…..I’m gagging already…..get ready for hype and real basketball is going to take a back seat to it…

  • OregonGuy

    Seems like Ellison is posting here under an alias.

  • ComOn Cents

    Come on! It’s Guber, not Gruber. At least get his name right if you can’t figure anything else out about the man!
    Forget the new owners for awhile.
    Looking at the team as it stands now, it sucks. The Warriors still have no presence in the paint (on defense) and will get killed there. Also, they have let their best outside shooter go, better than Reggie, and got nothing in return. Other “good” teams in our division and around the league have added and improved. (on paper)
    Back to the new owners: The new kids on the block get a team that, this year, they can’t do anything meaningful with even if they want to. The remaining dregs in free agency will not help the team. Trades of any value are unlikely. Still want to off Monta?
    2010-11 will be more of the same (or worse?) and it will not be their fault. If they had gotten the team considerably earlier then we could measure what they have done in preparation for 2010-11 and praise or damn them.
    Cohan’s folly will haunt us for at least another year!

  • A’s in 2010

    I have zero confidence in BWright and Biedrins. We outta trade them to boost our bench. Denver wants Biedrins, JR Smith would be huge for us off the bench. Jason Maxiell is available, he would be a nice beefer shot blocker type who could play well with David Lee. Bring back Tolliver, he is a more dependable option than the fragile BWright. Bring back CJ because there just isn’t much better than him left in free agency.

  • Hammertime

    The Golden State Warriors… where touching cloth happens!

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Touching%20Cloth

  • Vonteego Cummings

    I don’t know fellas, these new owners seem a lot like the old owner in many respects. Vonteego still don’t get that uber-positive vibe some of you are getting. I’m already on the fence, I don’t really need any more reasons to be skeptical.

    Plus, I just read in the Chron that they are trying to parter up with the Giants. The Giants? The new guys already don’t understand the dynamic of Oakland/East Bay or simply don’t care. There is already speculation they are considering moving the team to SF.

    So they come in, buy the team and take them to SF. What didn’t they learn from Lew Wolffe? This is not how you make friends in Oakland. If there is even a whiff of moving the team, the East Bay fans will abandon the Warriors (well, I will, for sure). There is only one thing that disturbs the loyalty of East Bay fans; threat of departure. Not even staggering losses can keep them from going to Raider games. And until now, not even staggering losses could keep them from going to Warrior games. But ask Lew Wolffe how his maneuver is affecting the turnstyles.

    Nothing could be worse than moving the team, especially not to SF. How ironic would it be to suffer through all the years of Cohan and final quit on the new guys?

  • Earl Monroe

    Action speak louder than words, I’ll wait and reserve judgement.
    One main indicator for me will be if they fire Rowell right away or wait, because I think Rowell was the guy who could not live with success once the Warriors had it in back to back seasons, he became jeslous and needed to upstage Mullin. Had Jackson play him, diminished Mullin’s role turned to Nelson who in turn turned to Riley who now wants to be his own man and got fleeced by the Knicks for David Lee.

    Start by dumping Rowell

  • robert rowell

    i’m also in wait and see mode. to me, it sounds like the new owners are earnest tools, but i’m more than happy to give my money for tix and merch if they produce a winning team.

    i think the mark i will be measuring by is whether or not they make the much needed FO and coaching changes. if the keep riley and nellie and rowell around, i won’t support them with my $$$. i’ll do what i’ve done the last few seasons, tivo the games so i can FF through commercials and the inevitable 3rd quarter collapse.

    i’m happy, though, to see the majority of fans voicing skepticism. we’ve been shammed for too long and there’s no slack left to give, as far as i am concerned. we want winning over entertainment, solid basketball over gimmicks.

  • http://www.clush.com ozfraud

    Snake Oil Salesman.

  • Mano de Nada

    While both movies and sports are entertainment in terms of business models, movies are generally about illusions and escapism, while sports are about competition and winning (through training and generally team work).

    Making movies about sports is not winning, pitching ideas and selling dreams doesn’t help on the court, doesn’t build cohesive teams.

    If the Warriors were a movie production we’d be in much better shape.

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