Why Larry Ellison has to buy the NBA's Warriors
Many might think the potential purchase of an NBA team might be a source of vanity for the Oracle co-founder, but the reason he has to buy the Golden State Warriors is geek credibility.
This is like the iPad. Except it's a lot more personal.
I have the faintest wishful whimsy that Oracle co-founder chose Wednesday toin order to upstage the Steve Jobs Traveling Band debuting their little gizmo.
Please allow me to disclose that I have followed the Warriors for quite a few years. I have been present as they have assailed the sporting world with a product that might best be described as, well, Vista. Or AOL around 2000.
The Warriors, over the years, have possessed the ability to spend first-round draft picks on tall, talentless edifices. Equally, they have patented the knack of giving away any talent they had for some wine in a box and three packets of stale pretzels.
You might think, therefore, that Ellison, whose company already owns the naming rights to the Warriors' arena, might want to buy the team as something of a vanity purchase. You know, like a pair of crocodile skin Gucci moccasins.
But please allow me to offer even fuller disclosure as I offer eye-witness evidence. I am a frequent visitor to the Oracle Arena. I adore the fish and chips, which can only be coupled with a large glass of Redhook.
I always buy my tickets on StubHub, because that way I feel as if I am giving money to some extremely sad sack who paid the Warriors for them, in the medically questionable hope that the team might actually be good.
I don't scream. I don't shout. And I have, as many Warriors do, the kind of affection for the team that a father does for a recalcitrant child who refuses to study, has tattoos on his knees, and a piercing on his more-private parts.
It is sometimes painful to witness, but you know that, at heart, he's a good and talented kid.
But this is the core issue. I am confident that the Warriors have the highest proportion of nerdy, geeky, socially uncertain fans in the whole of the sporting world. Every time I am there, there are huge numbers of awkward-looking people wearing glasses, nervously checking iPhones and wearing polo shirts from your favorite Valley employer beneath their oversize Monta Ellis jersey.
The Oracle Arena is already the spiritual home of the nerdy sports fan. I am not for a moment decrying the geeky element of society. The digitally advanced are already taking over the world, steadily, surely and with the barest of grins beneath their barely existing facial hair.
These are people who wouldn't be seen dead at the Oakland Raiders, because if they were seen, they'd be dead. Where Oakland's NFL team is a homage to the Stone Age, its NBA team could become a beacon for the Digital Age.
The Warriors are sometimes so lovably awful, the Keystone Cops of the NBA, that I am sure so many of the large brains in the arena use their smartphones to calculate coefficients of incompetence with which they will impress their friends and lovers.
If Ellison succeeds in persuading Chris Cohan, the current owner, to finally part with the team, he will surely enjoy the hero status amongst his peers that perhaps has slightly eluded him until now. I know he may have to overpay. But what's a few hundred million when you can afford $13 million a year just to maintain your yacht?
For far too long, the tech community has been maligned for being uncultured and unathletic. What beauty there might be if the Oracle co-founder could buy the team and introduce just a little discipline into its wayward, if colorful, ways.
And how advanced it would be if the Oracle Arena became the place where the Valley finally showed its populist, athletic sophistication.