Warriors owner Joe Lacob reflects on time with Celtics, shares competitive desire ahead of NBA Finals


Jacob was a co-owner of the Celtics from 2006-10.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob badly wants to beat the friends he used to work with. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Joe Lacob’s seen his Warriors squad reach the NBA Finals six times since he became their owner in 2010. The 2022 NBA Finals will have a different meaning for him, though.

The Warriors’ majority owner will see his squad go up against the Celtics, a team he held a minority stake in for four years before he bought the Warriors. Lacob, who is a native of New Bedford, became a part-owner of the Celtics in January 2006 when he became a co-investor with H. Irving Grousbeck, working with Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca during his time in Boston.

Lacob’s time with the Celtics saw the legendary franchise return to prominence, winning the NBA title in 2008. Speaking to reporters on Monday ahead of the NBA Finals matchup between the team he owns now against his former team, Lacob shared what he learned from his time in Boston that helped shape Golden State’s success.

“It was very important,” Jacob said. “I think to run any business in life — actually, I don’t think it doesn’t even need to be a business — you just kind of need some experience, right? You need to be able to do some pattern matching. You need to see what works and what doesn’t work. When I was building companies, you sometimes kind of know who is the right COO for a certain type of company, what kind of people do you hire…

“In this case, it’s the same kind of thing. Boston was an experience for me, as a limited partner, to get to see how an NBA team ran, upfront, in person, and real. I got to know people like Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers was the coach. I’ve got a ring from 2008, by the way, somewhere from the championship. Five years, I think it was, it was a tremendous experience with the basketball side and the business side. I learned some things I liked to do the way they did it and things that maybe would be different. We built our own arena. They rented an arena. These are fundamental decisions you have to decide on. But I felt that it was important for the long-term stabilization of this franchise to be able to have our own arena, to control it, and to have the revenues to support the team.”

Lacob left the Celtics’ ownership group when he bought the Warriors for $450 million in July 2010, with the sale being approved by the NBA in November of that year. After a rocky first two seasons, Lacob’s Warriors made the playoffs in 2013 as Steph Curry ascended into a star.

Lacob and the Warriors’ front office made the bold decision to fire head coach Mark Jackson following the 2014 playoffs even after the team saw consistent improvement in his three seasons. The Warriors ditched Jackson for Steve Kerr and immediately reaped the rewards, with Curry becoming an MVP and the Warriors winning the title in 2015. That began one of the most dominant five-year stretches in NBA history, with Golden State making the Finals all five seasons and winning the title three times.

Lacob also spearheaded the decision to move from the Warriors’ long-time home, Oracle Arena, in Oakland to build the Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. The Warriors’ on-court success and new home are the biggest reasons why they’re now worth $6.03 billion, making them the second-most valuable team in the NBA, according to Sportico.

Despite the success, the Warriors’ three titles aren’t enough.

“Boston was very important and those guys were very helpful. They’re friends to this day — not too close friends, though,” Lacob said. “I want to kill them right now, I’m going to be honest. I’m very competitive about this and I’m sure they are, too. It’s going to be a battle on the court and a little bit of a battle on the ownership level, too. We want to kill each other and we want to win, both teams. And they should.”

Lacob’s Warriors welcome the Celtics on Thursday for the first of two games in San Francisco before the series moves to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next week.

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