Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have done a lot to create change by the bay since buying the Golden State Warriors in 2010. In a few short years, they have a winning culture established, and have plans to build a state-of-the-art, waterfront arena in San Francisco.
But they may not be done.
The Warriors confirmed today (via ESPN) that they are interested in buying and operating a WNBA franchise. Perhaps not coincidentally, the owner of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks recently gave up control of the team, ceasing all operations and laying off the front-office employees.
Paula Madison, the Sparks’ owner, told the Associated Press that the franchise has been losing money and it was time for her to “get out.”
Now, with the Sparks without any operational control, their future is hanging in the balance. The WNBA has several options, ranging from stepping in to run the team to completely disbanding the team.
Or, they could look to sell to interested buyers, such as the Warriors. There is no current WNBA team in the Bay Area, but there is an appeal for the women’s sport in the region. Both Cal and Stanford field women’s basketball teams that are nationally ranked and attract attention across the country in addition to locally.
“Our ownership group has maintained their interest in operating a WNBA team in the Bay Area since acquiring the Warriors three years ago,” Warriors team spokesman Raymond Ridder told ESPN. “We’ve had exploratory conversations relating to this topic with the WNBA on several occasions since 2010, including most recently regarding the Los Angeles franchise. At this point, our dialogue remains in the exploratory stage as we evaluate the complexities of any such acquisition now or in the future.”
The key word in that statement is “exploratory.” The Warriors will probably refrain from making any rash decisions, so don’t expect any breaking news soon.
However, the prospect of Lacob and Co. buying the Sparks and moving them up to NorCal is certainly intriguing. The Sparks have been one of the best teams in the league since the WNBA’s inception, winning two titles (2001, 2002) and are currently on the rise with defending MVP Candace Parker leading the squad.
But all the history and promise of a bright future for the Sparks could go down the drain soon. Hopefully, the Warriors or another group will step in and save the franchise.