BASKETBALL: Warriors’ ceremony for Mullin is marred by fans’ booing of team co-owner


OAKLAND, Calif. – What started as a nostalgic journey honoring Warriors legend Chris Mullin turned sour as soon as Golden State co-owner Joe Lacob grabbed the microphone.
The ceremony to retire Mullin’s No. 17 jersey – held at halftime of the Warriors’ 97-93 loss to Minnesota – was interrupted as fans mercilessly booed Lacob.
For several minutes, after Mullin gave his speech, Lacob was interrupted by a chorus of jeers and chants of “We Want Monta!” from fans in the Oracle Arena. It was uncomfortable enough that Mullin got back up to encourage the fans to be patient with Lacob and the new ownership.
“Everything will work out just fine,” Mullin said, his arm around a clearly rattled Lacob. “Take that passion and point it in the right direction.”
When Mullin finished speaking, the fans cheered again. But as soon as Mullin sat down, and Lacob began to speak, the boos rang out again. And louder, drowning out the cheers of fans trying to end the madness.
That prompted Hall of Famer Rick Barry to get up and chastise the fans, calling the display “classless.”
Eventually, Lacob got through his speech and presented the Mullin family with a week vacation in Maui. After that, Mullin’s daughter led the unveiling of the jersey, and the ceremony, finally, was complete.
The ceremony started so smoothly, too. Mullin got several ovations. Several of his friends _ including Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Sarunas Marciulionis and coach Don Nelson _ were on hand and offered kind words. A video tribute reminded fans of Mullin’s Hall of Fame career. He got one last rousing ovation after concluding his speech by screaming “Go Warriors.”
“This is where it all started for me as a pro,” Mullin said. “I came in as a young man. I made mistakes. I worked hard to redeem myself. And by the grace of God I am here today. I grew up right here in front of you. You, the Warrior fans, were a huge part of my success.”
Then, Lacob stepped to center court.
Those same Warriors fans, who were constantly praised for being the best, showed their dark side. Frustrated by yet-fulfilled promises of new ownership, the trading away of Monta Ellis and another losing season, pointed their frustration at Lacob.
Mullin’s No. 17 is the sixth jersey retired in Warriors history _ joining Barry (24), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Al Attles (16), Nate Thurmond (42) and Tom Meschery (14).
“It’s my honor,” Mullin said, “to join the greats of this franchise and to be surrounded by my teammates, my coach. Although we never achieved the ultimate (by winning a) championship, I wouldn’t trade it for the people in this room.”
The jersey retirement is the latest in a host of honors bestowed on Mullin. He was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in August. Three months later, he was named to the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his career at St. John’s. But he said his hey day with the Warriors was the “most fun I had playing basketball in my whole life.”
Mullin heaped praise on Nelson, the mastermind behind the system that made the run-and-gun Warriors a memorable era.
In 13 years with Golden State, Mullin made five All-Star teams and four All-NBA teams _ including first team in 1992-92. He is the second player in franchise history to average 25 points per game for five consecutive years (Chamberlain was the other).
Mullin ranks top 10 all-time in franchise history in several categories. He’s first in games played (807) and steals (1,360), second in free throw percentage (86.2), fourth in points (16,245) and assists (3,146) and 10th in scoring average (20.1).
“I remember some very good nights, some very tough nights,” Mullin said. “Ultimately, it’s the people who influenced me along the way that stick with me the most.”
• Kevin Love had 36 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves on Monday.
Golden State was led by 25 points and nine rebounds from David Lee. Richard Jefferson, making his Oracle debut as a Warrior after being acquired from San Antonio on Thursday, had 19 points off the bench. The Warriors have lost four straight.
• The Warriors will make a run at signing J.J. Hickson if he clears waivers.
Hickson, once a promising big man with Cleveland, reached a buyout agreement with Sacramento on Monday and was waived. The Warriors don’t want to claim him off waivers and pay the remainder of his $2.35 million for this season. But they will try to sign him once he becomes a free agent.
The Warriors are hurting for size on the frontline after trading Ekpe Udoh, along with Ellis, to acquire Milwaukee injured center Andrew Bogut.
With Sacramento, Hickson averaged 4.7 points on 37 percent shooting and 5.1 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game.
In 80 games with the Cavaliers last season, Hickson averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game.
When asked why Hickson’s production had fallen off so much, one team source said, “I don’t know, but we want to find out.”
• Nelson said he’ll finally be getting his college degree in May. He’ll be earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Iowa. Nelson, 71, said he plans to attend the commencement ceremony with about 45 friends and family in attendance.

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