I sat down in the media dining room at Madison Square Garden. The Warriors were about to square off against the New York Knicks for what would be Stephen Curry’s first game in The Big Apple since his incredible 54-point performance last February. It was Friday night, the game was to be broadcasted on ESPN and the energy in and around the arena was buzzing.
I took my seat at the far end of the dining room, minding my own business but without being overly guarded. I began to talk with a representative from the Warriors about my travels through the site, particularly to New Orleans for All-Star Weekend and now New York. The Warriors were in the midst of a six-game road trip that they would ultimately finish 4-2.
As my conversation with the Warriors PR rep continued, a familiar face sat down and jumped into the conversation. It was none other than Jim Barnett, former New York Knick, Golden State Warrior and now in his last season as Warriors color commentator.
“How exactly do you get funding for these trips?” Barnett inquired.
Pleasantly surprised by the interjection, I answered.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have my trips paid for by the owner of our site, but this trip was all out of my own pocket.”
Barnett looked confused at my answer. Understandable. The blogging world isn’t inherently accessible to those who played in the pre-Michael Jordan era.
“What exactly is WarriorsWorld? I’ve heard of it. Are you getting paid?”
I explained to him what WarriorsWorld was, what we’re about, how we got started and what I do for the site. He was genuinely interested in what I had to say, which in this industry isn’t the case a lot of the time.
“So you’re one of the good guys then?” he chuckled.
I laughed with him, nodding my head in agreement. We went on to eat our meals before going our separate ways some minutes later.
This wasn’t my first encounter with Jim, but it was my first conversation with him in that type of setting. In the minutes we shared talking about this site and my involvement, he displayed the same level of compassion and care that he has for the entire duration of his Warriors tenure.
I’m very much part of the newest generation of Warriors fans. Our early great Warriors memories included Jason Richardson’s performances in the dunk contest, the “We Believe” run and the current growth of Stephen Curry. As a 22-year old, these are the memories that resonate with us.
As for the bad memories, we don’t have to get into those.
As synonymous as poor drafts were to Chris Cohan, so was the consistency and class to Jim Barnett. I know no different, as Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett have been the only broadcast crew I’ve seen cover the team. I don’t recall the days of Greg Papa and don’t wish to dive into the numerous beliefs on which era of broadcasting was better.
There has remained one constant throughout all this however: Barnett. Witty, passionate and incredibly knowledgable, Barnett has grown an incredible fan base that spans not only the older generation of fans but those of my sort, the young and newest members of #DubNation.
When news leaked that this season would be Barnett’s last, I couldn’t help but notice a collective sigh of dismay from everyone involved. Myself, I wondered why on Earth the Warriors would choose to depart from their color commentator, who is both universally praised by fans and respected by those within the industry.
Is it money? Did he really want to retire? Did Lacob want another one of his guys critiquing his baby on a nightly basis? For whatever reason, there came a “mutual” decision for both parties to separate, and no one wins as a result.
Lacob might for a bit, inserting whomever he deems fit for the gig. Who knows, maybe the choice will be a fan favorite of recent Warriors (and Bay Area radio) fame, a big name within NBA circles or a respected veteran with years of experience calling games.
The problem? Barnett is better than all of them.
Out of every move Lacob could and should make with his team, the position least in need of change was Barnett. It’s an unnecessary move, and one that smells of personal disdain from ownership instead of an actual agreement to depart.
Adam Lauridsen of the San Jose Mercury News began the campaign, and I speak for myself and the WarriorsWorld team when I say the #keepjim movement is a must. It’s not only logical, it’s necessary. This wouldn’t be the first time Lacob has disappointed fans, but unlike his other moves, this one is easily fixable.
There’s still time to #keepjim. The Warriors have 11 games left on their regular season schedule and a handful (maybe more) of playoff games on the horizon. In the midst of one of the most successful seasons in franchise history, the departure of Barnett would sour the taste in Warriors fans’ mouths no matter how this season ends.
It’s the right move to #keepjim, and quite frankly, it’s the only logical one.