Joe Lacob, the owner of the NBA franchise Golden State Warriors, whose $1 million donation led to the creation of Olin’s minor in the business of sports, offered some leadership lessons during a 17-minute video interview with program director Patrick Rishe, published recently on YouTube.
As Rishe, professor of practice-sports business, writes on the YouTube page: “On the Warriors first day of practice to kick off the 2017-18 campaign, I had the good fortune to interview Mr. Lacob, owner and CEO of the Golden State Warriors. Mr. Lacob has been a champion for Washington University, and he was generous to spend time with me on such a busy morning.”
The interview starts Lacob’s recollection of the day in 2012 when, as a relatively new owner of the franchise, he went to center court to retire the jersey number of star Chris Mullins. Fans greeted him with a chorus of boos, apparently in response to a controversial trade.
Five years later, the team has three NBA championships under its collective belt — in 2015, again in 2017, and finally, a third just a few days ago when the team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made his comments to Rishe before the third championship.
“We stayed on our plan and obviously, it’s worked out,” Lacob told Rishe. “Five straight playoff appearances, three finals appearances, two championships. And more importantly and things I’m perhaps things I’m even more proud of, is the way our organization has performed as a whole, the business side as well as the basketball side.”
Lacob noted that leaders make sure the entire organization is watching the little things as well as the big things: “What makes an organization successful is constantly being aware that you have to do everything well,” he said. “You have to pay attention all the time. Every little thing counts.”
Lacob’s donation in 2014 led to the creation of the minor in the business of sports program, which is available to undergraduates across the WashU campus.
Rishe’s interview with Lacob is one of 50 that will be featured in his upcoming e-book, They Shoot, They Score…Lessons in Leadership, Innovation, and Strategy from the Business of Sports. The book will feature several national sports executives, including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Kerry Bubolz, president of the Vegas Golden Knights; Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC; and several St. Louis-based sports executives, including Chris Zimmerman, president of business operations, St. Louis Blues; Dan Farrell, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the St. Louis Cardinals. The book is expected to be available Aug. 1, 2018.