Betaball – Erik Malinowski


This is the second book I’ve read this year about the Golden State Warriors.  The first book was Golden Days by Jack McCallum, which dealt with one season and specifically on Jerry West’s role with the team.  This book is broader in scope as it tells how the team was turned around by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber after they bought it in 2010.  It explains the new management style they instituted and the people they brought in and the resulting success.  It goes all the way through the second championship season of 2016-2017.

I enjoyed reading the book.  The author is a good writer and the story keeps your interest from front to back.  The things that Lacob and Guber did were obviously very successful and the team they put together is one of the most entertaining since probably the showtime Lakers of the 80s.  That said, I came away with some of the same impressions that I did after reading the McCallum book – they are an arrogant bunch who really do think they’re God’s gifts to the NBA.  They have a smugness born of always being the smartest guys in the room.  And I DO think that perhaps their innovations are a little overstated.  At the end of the day they won because they had more talent than anyone else – the other stuff is good, but nothing beats that (and it’s interesting that in the book they pride themselves on having training methods – that no one else has – that keep their players from injury, yet this season the entire starting lineup has been decimated by injuries).

Wired Magazine reviewed this book as follows: A deeply reported look at seven dramatic years of the Warriors’ team history, zeroing in on vivid characters and suspense-filled moments to deliver a gripping narrative. … A compelling and important case study of how startup-style thinking can be applied outside the tech industry.  Other than the suspense-filled moments comment (I don’t remember being on the edge of my seat much), I’d essentially agree with that review.  If you’re an NBA fan (or even just a sports fan), you’ll enjoy the book.

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