Perhaps nothing in the United States makes the worst-case argument against socialism (in an unenlightened barroom argument sort of way) as well as professional sports. Shared revenue and talent pools serve to prop up and even reward owners who are unwilling or unable to field competitive teams, the very antithesis of the American traditions of “rugged individualism” and capitalism. Of course, fans give sports teams a pass in ways they wouldn’t dream imaginable in any other part of the public sphere because WOOOOOO SPORTS!
It’s a system Golden State Warriors owner Chris Cohan has been exploiting for years. Under his ownership, bad front office hires, questionable personnel moves, and bad basketball have been the norm. Cohan has no reason to care, though, because he’s gotten the facility renovations he demanded and has made money hand over fist thanks to Bay Area fans and NBA revenue. Now, all that incompetence is going to pay off when he bails on the team and sells it off - if the price is right.
Under Cohan’s “leadership,” the team experienced the NBA’s longest-ever playoff drought (1994-2007). He has been booed on national television. He hired Don Nelson, Chris Mullin, and 64-year-old rookie GM Larry Riley. Yet, Cohan has largely gotten a pass in the eyes of casual fans. Cohan might be bad, but the appalling antics of even worse owners like Jim Dolan of the Knicks and Donald Sterling of the Clippers have shielded Cohan’s relatively low-key shenanigans from the spotlight. According to Tim Kawakami of the SAN JOSE MERCURY-NEWS,
Warriors owner Chris Cohan is believed to be seriously considering selling his 80% stake in the franchise in the next year or two, according to the sources. (He took control of the franchise in January 1995.)
In fact, one knowledgeable source said it’s “highly likely” that Cohan will sell most or all of his controlling interest in the team, possibly pulling back only if the current recession unexpectedly continues through 2011 and Cohan can’t get the price he wants.
Cohan also has also been the subject of some serious scrutiny by the IRS for tax evasion, but it’s not known whether that’s playing a part in his decision to sell. Leave it to a hated owner to be the guy who would only sell if the price is high. It’s not enough for guys like Cohan to milk their fans’ hard-earned money and the NBA revenue-sharing system for all they’re worth. No, Cohan has to continue being greedy and inept all the way out the door. Then again, maybe there’s nothing more American than that after all.