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Bob “The Wolf” Myers: crisis management expert, circa 2014
[+notes/quotes/video from him x Lacob]
This article’s photo above is an opportunistic play on words, as I’m referring to Bob Myers the crisis manager a la Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction, aka Winston “The Wolf” Wolf (maybe spelled Wolfe?).
Not Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street, which ended up meme-ifying Myers on social media back in the day, probably after the Kevin Durant signing in July 2016, can’t remember exactly (?).
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Bob stepped down yesterday, which came as a surprise to no one who has watched every minute of a minimum of, let’s say, two years of his interviews. So I tried to think back to the first time I witnessed him dealing with a crisis.
On April 5, 2014, per usual I attended daily practice at the Oakland facility alongside fellow beatwriters Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, Rusty Simmons of the SF Chronicle and Diamond Leung of the SJ Mercury. [Aside: Was I really a beat-writer back then? Well, yes and no. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing with LetsGoWarriors at the time. I was taking some video but not all the time, I was writing articles but not all the time, and I was definitely tweeting all the time, but that was when Twitter was a safer and more innocent place and people didn’t abuse the reply function — obviously I don’t tweet as much anymore because that app has become a vindictive place.]
Assistant coach Darren Erman had just been fired. This came at the heels of fellow assistant Brian Scalabrine being demoted to the coaching staff of the Santa Cruz Warriors by then-Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. We didn’t know at the time that Erman had secretly recorded a meeting of fellow coaches (this is well-documented, you can Google it for more info). This left the Warriors with only three assistants heading into the playoffs.
This was not a good look.
After practice we were scuttled up to the top of the staircase at the old GSW offices above the end of “The Blue Mile” hallway, past the gym. Bob joined us shortly and with that trademark concerned-but-calm look on his face, he relayed what he could, only revealing that Erman had violated company policy. That ad hoc scrum actually isn’t well-documented, but as I asked around yesterday night, reminiscing, one of the participants this morning texted me back, “I remember Bob was broken up about it.”
I’ve bullet-pointed Myers’ quotes below from Leung’s report, as I couldn’t find the others on NBCSBA or SF Chronicle’s websites. I’m pretty sure I did not recap it at the time on our website, which later got nuked during a database transfer to TheSportsDaily, because I was steering LetsGoWarriors away from what beatwriters usually cover so as to be different (more on this, someday). As far as the YouTube channel at the time was concerned, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to film this little get-together of the reporters who happened to be in the gym that day. After all, only a few feet separated us and we were seated campfire-style in the small foyer. Also, the YouTube channel did not really become part of the workflow until 2015. These days, video is the norm and Myers would’ve stood against a wall or had a podium session linked to a Zoom call to address the proverbial “air so thick you could cut it with a knife”.
So that was my first experience of Myers addressing a serious issue. Maybe there were others since the time he was promoted to general manager in 2012, but I didn’t go full-time until the China Games in Summer 2013; anything earlier than that is hazy.
Future crises such as the firing of Jackson, the exit interview after blowing a 3-1 lead in 2016, the tearful podium in Toronto after KD tore his Achilles, the exit interview after the triple-whammy of the 2019 Finals loss along with Klay Thompson and KD’s season-ending injuries, and the Draymond Green punch of Jordan Poole — I was not physically there for that presser — all carried an emotional toll. You could see it on Bob’s face each of those times. All bad looks for the franchise.
Even the non-crises Q&As could sometimes delve into “therapy”, mostly for DubNation, which is probably why he got glassy-eyed yesterday when describing himself as a ten-year-old fan in the upper deck of Oracle Arena (watching the RunTMC era, see below).
Whether it was explaining why they didn’t give Harrison Barnes an extension (more on that below), or addressing how long Luke Walton would be coaching in place of the ailing Steve Kerr, or reporting on Patrick McCaw’s contract situation, or drafting Nemanja Nedovic or Alen Smailagic or James Wiseman, or how they would always end up with “best player available” as their pick in any Draft, or dealing with being hard-capped in 2019-20 by bringing in D’Angelo Russell via sign-and-trade, or how he’d always end up saying Stephen Curry (MCL in 2016, broken wrist in 2020) or Andrew Bogut (broken nose) or Kevon Looney (hip) or Wiseman (meniscus) or Gary Payton II (broken wrist, core issues) would play whenever they were ready to play (duh!) — the list goes on and on.
After those sessions if you analyzed the transcripts, you would’ve walked away thinking those were much ado about nothing.
But that’s the point sometimes. You just need to talk things through to realize you’re okay and things will get better. Let the air out of the room. Myers was a master at doing this while also being in the public eye. His interviews would routinely go into double-digit minutes.
As a YouTuber, I keep track of these things. Bob easily averaged the most time per sit-down; I’m guessing probably twenty minutes per. I’d say Draymond is a distant second at maybe a dozen minutes per and Steve and Steph after that at ten minutes each.
Bob could reframe a discussion from the perspectives of all parties involved. We’d inevitably get a couple commenters on YouTube complaining about his circular style and never actually giving any answers, but most people either welcomed it or didn’t notice. And so in some ways his unique style also deflected criticism.
I’m guessing that’s how it went behind closed doors, as well: reassurance, acknowledgement, helping people own their feelings, and talking things through. By the way, this just so happens to be our style with our new livestreams especially when my co-host Dean “of Positivity” Chambers is on. I think maybe we’re on to something.
As I researched stuff for this commentary, I found out there are nearly 250 videos of Bob that I have since 2015. Some of those are worth re-exploring, so I might use the context of Myers for some reposts of past Warriors history coming up, either on this website or on the YouTube channel, or both.
Bob said on the podium yesterday (notes/quotes/video below), “When Steve's in the room it just makes you feel better about the room. He's just a calming presence, decency, humanity that is rare.”
I think Myers and Kerr have similar bottom lines, but their approach is different. This might be a gross simplification but to me, Steve is more the wise sage who has been there, done that, and can draw from decades of anecdotes about Hall-of-Famers and past champions, whereas Bob essentially mentally holds your hand, gets you to come to the other side to hold the other party’s hand, and then brings you back to yet another prism where you find all parties holding each other’s hands.
In that way, Myers is one of one as a GM and as a person.
I trust he’ll leave Warriors culture in a better place with his imprint on everything, and that an internal successor — btw, it has to be a hire from within, now that we’re talking this through (see how it works?!) — such as Mike Dunleavy, Jr. will have learned most of those traits by osmosis, at a minimum.
At yesterday’s presser, Joe Lacob did reference Myers and Dunleavy spending time together in a hotel room sorting out the aftermath of KD’s departure in 2019. Ergo, four years in, Mike isn’t new to the culture. I’d be shocked if Lacob hired anyone other than Dunleavy to replace Myers. Incidentally, Kirk Lacob has held the title of Assistant GM since at least 2015 (see below).
I should add that I learned one more thing about Bob while researching some things for this write-up: his middle name is Michael! [Photo: Michael Myers via Horror Film Wiki]
The rest of this post, sprinkled with some behind-the-scenes clips, includes snippets from articles by Leung, Mark Medina (who ironically succeeded Leung as the SJ Mercury’s Warriors beatwriter), Adrian Wojnarowski (his “Woj bomb” tweet), Tim Kawakami of TheAthletic (who also had some relevant tweets), Poole, and Iguodala (congratulatory tweet) followed by the main Myers-Lacob video and some of the quotes. If you want it all detailed word-for-word, YouTube has a desktop-only feature that offers the transcript, but it is usually only about 60-70% on point…
LEUNG ON FIRING OF ERMAN (4/5/2015)
• Bob Myers after Warriors practice on Darrin Erman, via San Jose Mercury:
General manager Bob Myers said firing Erman was not a basketball decision, but rather one made by the organization and unrelated to the recent reassignment of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine. Myers would only indicate that Erman, 37, had committed a serious violation that he declined to reveal.
“We hold all of our employees to the same standard,” Myers said, adding that the team’s general counsel and human resources department became involved following the violation.
“We were unaware, and when made aware, forced to act,” Myers said
Myers called the timing “unfortunate” as the Warriors look to clinch a playoff berth with six regular-season games remaining. Myers said the decision was made Friday evening to fire Erman, who coached his final game in the Warriors’ win against Sacramento and was informed of his dismissal Saturday morning.
…After practice ended, Myers gave Jackson a vote of confidence.
“We believe that Mark is fully capable, and we’re confident in his ability to keep going in the right direction, keep propelling us like he has all year, and we believe that he’s going to continue to be successful,” Myers said. “We believe in his ability the rest of the way.”
MEDINA ON MYERS BECOMING GM
From the LA Daily News on November 24, 2015:
Myers sent out tapes to the University of Washington, UC Santa Barbara and a handful of other schools, though he conceded “there are not a lot of highlights.” Those schools apparently agreed.
So, Myers enrolled at UCLA to become a business and economics major. He also planned to play for the school’s crew team. But then Myers randomly ran into UCLA assistant coach Steve Lavin, who encouraged him to try for the basketball team.
Through it all, Lavin affectionately called Myers “Forrest Gump,” with how the seemingly every-day man unexpectedly experienced lavish experiences.
In his wallet, Myers has kept the ticket stub of his first Warriors game he attended on Jan. 15, 1982, against the New York Knicks.
“We enjoy the discussion and enjoy debate,” Myers said, crediting Warriors co-owners Lacob and Peter Guber, assistant general managers Travis Schlenk and Kirk Lacob as well as advisor Jerry West. “That’s why we’ve been able to get our decisions more right than wrong. We’re certainly not going to be right all the time. But it’s a process.”
…All of which prompted him to quote former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
“‘You cannot connect the dots looking forward,’” Myers said. “‘You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’”
(👆 Clickable video of Bob’s podium from behind-the-scenes)
From the ESPN story that accompanied Woj’s tweet: “He enjoyed strong working and personal relationships with the key members of the Warriors' dynasty -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and coach Steve Kerr. He let each of them know in recent days that there was a real possibility of him stepping away from the job, sources said. With Myers' departure, Warriors owner Joe Lacob is expected to seek more prominent roles for his son, Kirk, an executive vice president of basketball operations, and VP of basketball operations Mike Dunleavy Jr.”
TK’s TWEETS ABOUT BOB
• Tim Kawakami and the stressors of the job of GM: “It's an obvious example, but Myers and Lacob both brought up the Durant planning and execution because it was a massive undertaking, plotted out at least a year in advance by Myers and then each step had to be played perfectly. A Hall of Fame executive play. Had to know the big 2016 cap spike was coming and what it meant. Had to have a trade in place to move off of Bogut's contract. Had to negotiate enough with Barnes & Ezeli so they wouldn't feel discarded months before July 2016 but also be ready to actually discard them.”
• On where Myers might land: “Pretty sure he'll take at least a year off. Then he'll either get a huge job back in basketball or will be helping run a company like Disney (or Apple), IMO.” [Kawakami cited a podcast Myers did with Bob Iger:]
• On Mike Dunleavy, Jr. as Myers’ successor: “I think Kirk Lacob would/will definitely step into a larger basketball ops role, but I believe the Lacobs know they can't install him as GM. He'd be the lightning rod of all lightning rods. It'll very likely be Mike Dunleavy Jr. and whoever else he wants to bring in.”
• Steve Kerr on Kawakami’s podcast a couple weeks ago:
“He and Bob are best friends, and I think just through Bob I’ve gotten to know Mike well, to the point now where Mike and I talk pretty frequently just calling each other, touching base on the team,” Kerr said. “You know, I like to get his thoughts. He had a long playing career, he’s been in the NBA his entire life, basically, with his dad being a coach and general manager and player. So Mike’s got a great feel for the league, great perspective, and he’s someone I really trust.”
(👆 Clickable video of Joe’s podium from behind-the-scenes)
TK’s POST-PODIUM ARTICLE
• Tim Kawakami’s quotes from Joe Lacob:
“I’m going to miss talking to him five to 20 times a day. There are times during the course of the year where we don’t, but most of the time it’s a constant dialogue. I’m going to miss that. Probably the thing I’m going to miss the most is that because Bob is such a great person, so smart — I don’t mean to keep giving you more accolades today but might as well.
“That’s going to be hard. We have all worked together for a long time and I mean, that’s going to be a very difficult thing to adjust to. But you know, life goes on, and nothing is forever. We all know that. Owners don’t own teams forever. Players don’t play forever. We like to think they do. New players come along and get better and all of a sudden they emerge. Maybe Bob has something else great in his future that he wants to do. Things do change. As much as we would like them to last forever, they just don’t.”
MONTE’s POST-PODIUM ARTICLE
• Monte Poole’s report on Bob Myers and the mental and physical toll of the job of being GM:
Myers has undergone multiple hip surgeries since the spring of 2018 and still requires regular maintenance, something for which Myers thanked Dr. Rick Celebrini, Golden State’s vice president of health and performance.
“I've never stopped,” he said. “I've never really stopped going . . . my whole life has been like this; maybe it will be good for me to sit still. I don't know how good I'll be at it, but I've actually never done it, and maybe (I’ll) figure some things out. And I don't know what's coming.”
Savor it, Bob. You’ve earned it. If your heart tells you it’s time to meet your needs rather than remain chained to the grind, it’s OK to listen.
“To more life Robert 🥂, appreciate you!”
• Bob Myers press conference, on why he’s stepping down: “This is tough. This is hard. I have so many different things, emotions that I'm still processing. But the bottom line is, this job, the one I'm in... requires complete engagement. If you can't do it, you shouldn't do it… This job requires complete engagement, complete effort. 1000 percent. That’s the answer to the question of why. I can’t do that to our players, Joe, Peter. I can’t do it to myself. So that’s the answer to the question of why. I can't do that to my players, Joe, Peter. Really can't do it to myself… I've only known how to do things one way my whole life. All the way. And it doesn't feel right to do something when I can't give it everything, and that's what it takes to do what we've done over the last 12 years.” (CJ Holmes, Marcus Thompson, Shayna Rubin, KNBR)
• On Steve Kerr: “What a once in a lifetime friendship, once in a lifetime person. You can go your whole life and not meet people like that, not have friendships like that. He’s an all-time, Hall of Fame coach, but you can go through a whole life and not meet people like that… When Steve's in the room it just makes you feel better about the room. He's just a calming presence, decency, humanity that is rare.” (Alex Espinoza, KNBR)
• Listing players one by one: “Durant called me today, he's in Monaco… For him to do it and completely deliver everything you would want – two Finals MVPs, three in a row Finals, two championships – what a talent.” On watching and working with the superstars like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Bob Myers notes, "They’re the reason that I’ve loved it so much, they’re the reason for the success. I got a chance to talk with most of them. The key guys… I'd do that for free… Some people say GMs shouldn't get close to the players...I kind of push back. What is the point of any job if you don't like and build relationships with who you work with? What's the point?" The players that Bob Myers specifically has mentioned and thanked: Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant. Also: Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Shaun Livingston, David West, Zaza Pachulia, Andrew Bogut and Leandro Barbosa. (Janie McCauley, Dalton Johnson)
• On Stephen Curry: “How lucky is this organization to have him as its leader? For me to watch him be that guy my whole time here, what a gift to me. That's one I can never repay. Ever.” (KNBR)
• On recalling the past 12 years with the Warriors. Grew up in the Bay Area as a fan: “I grew up a fan of the Warriors...To feel like I helped this fanbase and community, did my part, to help get more [championships]...I'm so thankful. Part of me wishes I could’ve been a fan through it all. I might’ve enjoyed it more.” (Monte Poole, KNBR)
• On the team going forward: “This team is in great shape, great shape. Joe (Lacob) isn't going anywhere. He has supported me ... You've got a fantastic coach. You've got arguably one of the best players to every play, on of the best ever people to ever play in Steph Curry. So the future is unbelievably bright… If there was a metric on cost per win, I don't know how good I'd be. We've spent a lot of money because he's so competitive, because he cares so much...and that's not changing.” (Janie McCauley, Marcus Thompson, CJ Holmes, Kendra Andrews, KNBR)
• On not leaving because the Warriors have so many big decisions to make: “It’s been a lot worse than this. There’s been harder summers than this ... I have great confidence in what’s to come. And have no doubt that much success is still forthcoming… The hardest part is I love the people at my work and I won't see them as much,” says the thought of leaving crossed his mind in 2019 after the Finals. Said he talked to Lacob about getting help, then they brought in Dunleavy. (Alex Espinoza, Shayna Rubin, Janie McCauley)
• On sharing his decision with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson which was hard: “It’s not good bye but it’s more like they’re going to keep going but this is my stop. The train is powerful… but this is my stop. The train is powerful, this thing’s moving.” (Madeline Kenney, Alex Espinoza)
• On Mike Dunleavy Jr. potentially replacing him as GM: “Mike’s great. He’s as good a GM, if he wants it, it will be great, if that’s what he wants. But it’s his call. It’s Joe’s call. It’s not my call… He would be fantastic if that's the choice… He's really good. He'd be fantastic if that's the choice… I told him I'll help with Draymond (laughs).” (CJ Holmes, Anthony Slater, Alex Espinoza, Shayna Rubin)
• On what's next for him: “I don't know that answer, and I guess I don't need to know that answer… Maybe it'll be good for me to sit still. I don't know what's coming… My wife said we’re gonna get a drink on the way home.” (Dalton Johnson, Anthony Slater, Alex Espinoza)
• On the two timelines: “This wasn't about money. I've made plenty of money. I got offered plenty of money, so thank you for that… This wasn't about money, I just want to make that clear.” (Anthony Slater, Dalton Johnson, Madeline Kenney)
• Joe Lacob on Bob Myers' departure: “I have four kids. I’ve said this before, I actually consider Bob my fifth. It’s really hard to see your son – because what I kinda feel like this is – leave and go off and do something else… I'm not gonna sit here and tell you I understand it because I don't... It's not me to do that. I am so competitive. I know he is to. It's a really hard thing for me to understand why… Who knows, maybe he'll be back with us at some point in the future. I'm not going to give up that easily.” But, Lacob adds, he just wants Bob to be happy. (Alex Espinoza, Madeline Kenney, Dalton Johnson)
• On giving credit to Bob Myers for the ability to clear the money necessary to sign Andre Iguodala and the idea and execution of going after and ultimately signing Kevin Durant in 2016. (John Dickinson)
• On if he’s made a decision on who will replace Myers, and on taking their time, if there’s “a succession plan” for Bob Myers yet: “I’m not gonna say what we’re doing yet because I don’t know what we’re doing yet. … It’s not gonna be something we rush into… I’m gonna work Bob for every last day until June 30th.” (Alex Espinoza, Shayna Rubin)
• On the new CBA: “We're going to win no matter what, I don't care what the rules are. We're going to figure out a way to do it.” (Dalton Johnson, Kendra Andrews)
• On the current roster: they’re proud of their “bench strength” and that they’re “constantly training for situations like this.” (Madeline Kenney)
• “There is no point in doing this if you're not trying to win the championship. No point.” (KNBR)
• On if Bob Myers (under contract until 6/30) would run draft in June 22: “I don’t think we’ve even got to the level of what’s gonna happen next. I guess he’s employed theoretically until the June 30, so the draft falls within there.” Myers added he could/would be involved in supporting role. (Alex Espinoza)
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