The NBA is suspended. We'll have to talk more about that later. Right now, my thoughts are on Joe Lacob, part-owner of the Golden State Warriors. Joe Lacob has been known for his bravado. He's infamous for the "Light Years Ahead" comment in regards to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have a league record on regular-season wins, a feat they accomplished in the 2015-2016 NBA season. They may have another auspicious honor. Should the 2019-2020 NBA season be indefinitely suspended, they could become the only team in NBA history to be the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in an NBA season.
The Warriors, like many NBA teams, are soon to be in an interesting spot. With games suspended, one group of people impacted will be the workers. A recent Athletic article noted that the Warriors employ roughly 1,500 part-time employees for their games. The same article notes that in San Fransisco, the minimum wage is approximately $16 hourly. Lacob, who happens to have a masters degree in epidemiology had some comments on the subject (see the same article, paywalled, sorry!), one that struck me was
“When these city health departments and politicians make sweeping mandates, whether appropriate or not, they create a lot of inadvertent hardship. Unintended consequences. I realize that they are trying to protect the populace. But there are consequences,”
-Joe Lacob speaking to the Athletic
Lacob notes that the Warriors revenue streams have stopped. That said, here's where I'm going to hope the Warriors make a good move and ensure their employees that aren't salaried players or front office people get paid. In another article with the Athletic, Lacob takes issue with the Forbes valuation of NBA teams. His issue? Forbes ranked the Warriors revenue below the Lakers and the Knicks, the two teams in front of the Warriors on Forbes' valuation. In the same article, he explains how Steve Ballmer easily got his money's worth paying a then-record $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers.
To clarify, Lacob has bragged his team is more well-run than other teams in the past. Lacob has recently bragged his team makes more money than other squads. And you know what? For a team that made five finals in five years, winning three of them? There might be some reason to be bombastic. However, the Warriors are currently the only NBA team not in the playoffs. The Warriors have recently been cutting costs in a way I wouldn't expect a team top-two in NBA revenue to do. And this was even before the league shut its doors.
If the Warriors want to be a destination for future stars, and a model franchise for the NBA. I sincerely hope they ensure their workers get paid. For example, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has already said his team would make sure their workers get paid. A promise I'm confident he'll uphold. Cuban also said he thinks the Hawks will do something similar. In an ideal world, by the time I'm finished writing this article, the Warriors will have already released a statement.
One last argument as an example. The Warriors recently gave Klay Thompson a five-year guaranteed contract with the knowledge he was unlikely to play this season. The bill, according to Spotrac, will come to around $32 million. The Warriors were comfortable eating the cost of Klay's contract for this year because they knew he was valuable to the franchise in the future. For 1,500 employees making $16 an hour, $32 million would cover over thirty weeks of full-time pay. The Warriors were only expected to play another month or so. Surely, the Warriors could afford to make sure their workers got paid for any remaining games with the same logic used on Klay Thompson - these people will have future value to the team!
Lacob also notices side businesses and things like Uber drivers being affected. I don't expect the Warriors to solve all of those problems. We'll hopefully believe that the government for the people during this crisis will do the right thing for its people. However, the Warriors can help out their loyal employees, and I hope they do.