When I met Warriors owner Joe Lacob, I did so with roiling insecurities that could melt stomach butterflies. I’m poor for reasons I get, he’s impossibly rich from a business beyond my grasp. At the handshake, I noticed Lacob’s gleaming watch. The sparkling time keeper snickered at my 97′ Escort station wagon–the car with a super-glued side-mirror and unglued transmission. The rich are different than you and me, especially venture capitalists who accrue unfathomable money by methods inscrutable. In my eyes, Lacob was an alien from a smarter, cleaner planet–a walking brain, with gills that breathed rarefied air.
But, Joe sought not to intimidate. The new guy reaches out to fans, writers–anybody who takes interest. He’s a blur of smiles, questions and gesticulations. Lacob is happily present, and his mere existence feels like a Cohan rebuke. I’ll eventually post the entire interview, but I’m kicking it off with a Biedrins snippet. Andris is an oddly controversial player these days, and I wanted Lacob’s take on the center who stopped making (and shooting) free throws:
ESS: I thought when Lee combined with Biedrins, it would make for a really formidible team in the aggregate–and I was surprised when that didn’t happen.
Joe Lacob: Well, we’re 40 games into it, we’ve got 42 to go. We’ll see. Maybe that changes. You know, the thing is, Biedrins is capable.
ESS: 21 year old Biedrins is fantastic!
Joe Lacob: Ya, I know. He’s capable. So let’s see if we can get him there. And if we can’t, then we’ll have to go in another direction. I think that he’s an asset, that even though he’s struggling in certain respects, there aren’t many seven footers. And his rebounds per minute, when I looked last–and I haven’t looked in a few weeks–he was second rebounds per minute among centers in the NBA, he’s third among centers in rebounding. Now I don’t know if the data’s still right, that was three weeks ago maybe. So what does that tell you? There are not a lot of good fives in this league. It’s really hard to get this.
ESS: The most interesting Biedrins stat to me, and I’ll just throw this at you. He–in his prime–averaged 3.5 free throw attempts per game. And now he’s averaging .7 free throw attempts per game.
Joe Lacob: Clearly, let’s put it on the table. Clearly…that’s an issue. His problem more than anything else is, he doesn’t want to go to the line.
Joe Lacob: He’s clearly struggling with that part of his game, and he probably doesn’t demand the ball as much inside because he doesn’t want to go to the line. I think that’s an assumption I’m making, and that other people are making. I read it, and it’s probably true. Maybe I need to get him a hypnotist? Let’s get team hypnotists (Lacob laughs)! Because, he’s capable.
(Note: After the Warriors win over Indiana, I mentioned the .7 free throw attempt average, and asked Keith Smart if Biedrins was “purposefully avoiding contact.” Smart said: “No.”)