Of the 24 owners of MLS expansion team LAFC, there are two teams that are most closely connected to the various owners. To kick off our series in looking at the teams part of the LAFC family tree, let's start with the team that's achieved success most recently.
The Golden State Warriors were a moribund NBA team just a few short years ago. A team that following the days of Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway seemed to have about two good players and eight not-very-good players, the Warriors made the playoffs just once between 1995 and 2012. But a combination of good drafting, player pick-ups, coach hirings and a rejuvenation in the franchise itself brought the Warriors from completely irrelevant in a very competitive Western Conference to champions in a remarkably short amount of time, winning this season's NBA title, the team's first since 1975.
LAFC co-owner Peter Guber, along with Joe Lacob, purchased the Warriors in 2010. Since then, the pair helped usher in a turnaround in the team's fortunes, tapping into the passion for basketball in the Bay Area. The NBA Finals win this month culminated efforts to make Golden State a player once again, and having a young core with the likes of reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to go with knowledgable veterans like NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and David Lee, coached by rookie head coach Steve Kerr, was just the recipe for success, and should give the Warriors chances to continue their success moving forward.
Beyond Guber's involvement, there are Warriors-LAFC connections all over the front office of the NBA side, as Warriors President and COO Rick Welts is a co-owner of LAFC, as is Lacob's son Kirk, who is assistant General Manager for the Warriors. Additionally, Golden State Senior Vice President Brandon Schneider, who oversees ticket sales for the organization, is a co-owner of LAFC. And a fifth LAFC owner, Harry Tsao is listed on the LAFC website as being a "Partner" of the Warriors.
Ultimately, that's just over a fifth of LAFC's massive ownership group having various levels of involvement in the recent NBA title-winners. How can that impact LAFC, though?
That's the big question. Obviously, basketball and soccer are two different sports, and the traditions and experiences surrounding the NBA and MLS are in many respects quite different. Just because they have unlocked the NBA on both the on-court and off-court levels doesn't necessarily mean it will work out as peachy for MLS.
However, there are elements of overlap that could very well benefit LAFC. First and foremost, LAFC's stadium building plan will come pretty much simultaneously with the Warriors' new arena project, slated to be located back across the Bay in San Francisco and to open for the 2018-19 NBA season. Like the LAFC stadium project at the LA Sports Arena site, the San Francisco arena will be built in an urban area. Both projects are underway, though there is still 2.5 years (in the case of LAFC) and more than 3 years (in the case of the Warriors) before they are expected to debut for games.
Besides the knowledge that comes from simply going through the stadium process, the experience and knowledge gained from operating a major American pro sports franchise should help inform LAFC's development and growth. Many kinds of business decisions are probably pretty similar regardless of the sport, and elements like ticket sales, marketing and making the hiring decisions of on-court/field personnel can be informed from basketball to soccer, certainly.
Yes, basketball and soccer are certainly different and just because the Warriors won a championship doesn't mean we can schedule LAFC's parade through the streets just yet. But having real tangible links between a successful team and a brand-new club certainly cannot hurt, if the investment and commitment for the new venture are there. Only time will tell, of course, but it has to be promising to see a "cousin" of LAFC do well right now.
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