Fans fiercely boo Warriors owner Joe Lacob

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Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors, apparently had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, returning hundreds of e-mails following a surprising display of Bay Area fans who used to be generally well-behaved: these fans booed him fiercely all throughout a halftime ceremony wherein Lacob retired the No. 17 jersey of Hall of Famer Chris Mullin.

That Monday night, Lacob was visibly shaken as he tried to deliver his tribute speech at Oracle Arena, with the crowd booing so much that Mullin had to stand up and ask his supporters to extend patience to Lacob in his vision for the franchise which has gone through several decades of futile play.

Mullin told fans that change was inevitable, but that it was going to turn out “just fine.” He added an appeal for patience and support, and encouraged fans to use their passion in the right direction, which he believed that everything was going along the right way.

Mullin also expressed confidence in Lacob and Mark Jackson, and that he believed everything would work out fine.

Even after Mullin gave his piece, the boos still continued to ensue, so Hall of Famer Rick Barry jumped out of his seat for a turn at the microphone for bringing calm to what was supposedly a special celebration.

“Come on people,” Barry said, and commended the fans for being the greatest fans in the world, just before imploring them to “show a little class.” He described Lacob as a man he had spent some time talking with, and whom he believed was going to change the franchise. “You’re doing yourself a disservice,” he said, explaining that he believed Lacob could do it, and that he deserved some respect.

After the seemingly alarming boo-fest, the video clip of which had generated close to 50,000 YouTube views by mid-day Tuesday, Lacob apparently received hundred of e-mails, all of which had been supportive.

Lacob expressed appreciation for all the support that was expressed in the e-mails, admitting that the halftime ceremony had been tough, and that he had felt badly for Mullin and other Warrior legends who made the trip to show their respect for one of the greatest Warrior players. But, he conceded, “it is sports.”

Golden State had spent many years in defeat, and last week, it traded away Monta Ellis, its star player. Lacob admitted that it had been an incredibly difficult decision, given how Ellis had become one of his personal favorite NBA players. Ellis was traded along with Kwame Brown and Udoh to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, the injured center and swingman, respectively. Jackson was then traded to San Antonio on Thursday for Richard Jefferson along with a conditional draft pick on first-round.

Of course, it did not do any wonders for Golden State with the trade still so fresh at the time when Ellis made his debut appearance on Friday night with the Bucks, which won 120-98.

Lacob understood that many fans were passionate about the recent trade of Ellis, but expressed confidence that they would come to understand the reason for the trade as they moved forward. He only wished that the misunderstanding had not tarnished the occasion of honoring someone who clearly deserved to have his jersey retired.

“The number 17 will never again be worn by another in a Warrior uniform,” Lacob announced.

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