NBA Analysis: Jerry West Already Changing Warriors Culture


The Golden State Warriors have sent a contract to their season ticket holders making some nice promises for the upcoming season. According to the contract, the Warriors will do the following four things:

1. THE CLUB will reach the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

2. THE CLUB will have a player participate in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando.

3. THE CLUB will win 25 or more home games at Oracle Arena.

4. THE CLUB will honor a Risk-Free Renewal, with a 5% Interest Guarantee Option for the 2011-12 NBA season.

More importantly, the Warriors spelled out what they’ll do if each item isn’t fulfilled. If they don’t reach the playoffs, the team won’t increase season ticket prices for 2012-13. If they don’t get a player into the All-Star Game, the team will give ticket holders an autographed “All-Star-related item” and put everyone in a drawing for a trip to the ASG. If they club doesn’t win 25 home games, ticket holders can attend a two-hour autograph session with the entire team. And the last item helps protect ticket holders from losing money if games are missed due to a lockout.

This contract comes just a few days after Jerry West was put into an advisory position with the franchise, and in the first offseason under the new ownership group that bought the team from Chris Cohan last fall. Cohan owned the team since 1995 and was considered one of the worst owners in the NBA on many fronts, including fan relations. This contract promises a lot of things that the fans are not used to, so it’s a phenomenal piece of goodwill from the new guys in charge to a fan base that has felt ignored and taken advantage of for quite a while. I applaud their efforts in rejuvenating the people who keep them in business.

The fans obviously win with this contract and have to feel appreciated. The Warriors win in a big time way, as well. For starters, they will be entering 2011-12 with more fan support than they did during any season under Cohan other than 2007-08, which came on the heels of the crazy “We Believe” 8-over-1 toppling of Dallas in Round One the April before. With this contract, fans are now far more likely to renew season tickets, which makes the team money. Shockingly, the Warriors were 10th in the league in home attendance last season, averaging 18,692 people, which fell just behind the Lakers (18,995) and the Magic (18,972), and just ahead of the Celtics (18,624) and the Spurs (18,314).

So starting with the assumption Golden State will clean up with “glad the team cares and knows the fans exist” season tickets this summer and move up a few spots on the league’s attendance list, making them literally millions of more dollars, let’s examine the four promises from the perspective of what the team has to gain or lose.

The Warriors will not make the playoffs this year (no way whatsoever), so they won’t raise season ticket prices in 2012. Because fans will be happy the team is doing something noble that Bill Simmons suggested over a year ago (“Any team that misses the playoffs cannot raise ticket prices the following season. Miss two straight playoffs, season-ticket holders get a 5 percent discount for renewals the following season. Miss three straight, it goes to 10 percent. Miss four straight, it jumps to 25 percent. Miss five straight, it jumps to 50 percent.”), they’ll buy more tickets this year. That’s more money for the Warriors right now.  Then they won’t make the playoffs, but fans will love what the Warriors did and that tickets won’t cost any more, so guess what, fans who might have left for good will re-up in 2012 as well. More fans at the games means more fans paying for parking, eating $7 beers and hot dogs, and purchasing jerseys. Plus single-game ticket prices will probably increase anyway. The franchise just made itself WAY more money by promising to not raise season ticket prices in two years.

Sadly, the Warriors will also not have an All-Star this season. Forward David Lee has no chance making the top five at his position in the West against Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nene, Al Jefferson, David West, Lamar Odom, and Luis Scola, especially since 12 of those 13 play the exact same PF position as Lee. Moving on to guards Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, I’m not sure they can crack the West’s top five backcourt over Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Jason Kidd, and Tyreke Evans. Ellis has a chance if he puts up another 24 ppg, 6 apg season and the team improves, but I’m not holding my breath. Assuming the team does not have a representative on the ASG roster, they give out some crappy signed item and buy one person a trip to Orlando for a couple days. What does that set the team back? Maybe $3000? Refer back to the millions they’ll make from season ticket renewals.

I actually believe Golden State can and should win 25 home games this upcoming season. You know why? They won 26 at Oracle Arena last year, and they were terrible. That’s right, the 36-46 Warriors went 26-15 at home. But say they don’t do it this year? Well then they host a two-hour autograph session that costs them nothing and makes the fans love them even more. Win-win.

The final item helps protect fans from paying for games that never happen in case there’s a lockout, so this is a no-brainer and helps make the contract look longer.

All in all, the Warriors do something decent that every team should imitate, the fans love the team for caring enough to at least look like they’re trying to improve (they hired Jerry West, so you got to believe they really are), and Golden State will make millions in ticket renewals even if they meet none of the promises. I love it!


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