SAN FRANCISCO—Bob Myers can no longer put all of his energy into running the Golden State Warriors, and that’s why he is ready to walk away as one of the most successful professional sports executives ever.
“This is tough, this is hard. I have so many different things, emotions that I’m still processing,” Myers said, fighting tears in making his announcement Tuesday. “But the bottom line is this job, the one I’m in, I would say this for any professional general manager or coach, requires complete engagement, complete effort, 1000%. If you can’t do it, then you shouldn’t do it. That’s the answer to the question of why.
“… 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.”
Myers is departing as Golden State’s president of basketball operations and general manager after building a championship team that captured four titles in an eight-year span and reached five straight National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals from 2015-19. He shared his decision with owner Joe Lacob on Tuesday morning.
Yet basketball is and always will be in Myers’s blood and the thrill of competition so ingrained in him, he’s certainly not done in the business—even if he isn’t quite sure what’s next. He knows there will be an enormous void on game day and every other day in between.
He will miss Stephen Curry’s warmup routine, his close friendship with coach Steve Kerr and all the special playoff runs they shared together, noting, “I’m proud of what I did and proud of what we did.”
One of the most successful GMs over the past decade in any sport, Myers’s contract expires June 30 and there has been speculation for months about his future, given the sides had yet to reach agreement on an extension or a new deal. Myers added about his decision, “This wasn’t about money, just want to make that clear, it’s not about money, I make plenty of money, I got offered plenty of money.”
The 48-year-old Myers grew up in suburban Danville going to Warriors games for his birthday, played basketball at UCLA and learned key skills on the other side of the business when he became an agent before switching careers and emerging as a top NBA executive. He did so with a personable nature and regularly attending practices to chat with players, staff, Kerr and his assistants.
Lacob acted on a tip from Danny Ainge to consider the unproven Myers and after interviewing other candidates over months, Lacob realized how much he really liked Myers despite his inexperience. Myers then spent a year as assistant GM under Larry Riley before being promoted a year later.
Kerr has loved working alongside Myers in a collaborative way, something that can be unusual in professional sports between the front office and head coach.
“He’s a fantastic coach, he’s an all-time, top, Hall of Fame coach,” Myers said. “You can go through a whole life and not meet people like that not make friendships like that. It’s super rare, most GMs and coaches don’t like each other, and I can see why. It’s pretty set up to fail.”
Myers has been known to talk to players during games, rare for a GM to do. That included working to calm down fiery forward Draymond Green at times.
He has long supported Green through his mistakes, technical fouls and suspensions. In 2016, Green was suspended for a crucial Game 5 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals after accumulating too many flagrant fouls in the playoffs that season. The Warriors wound up losing in seven games. Myers sat with Green next door to Oracle Arena at the Oakland Coliseum for that game Green missed.
It was Myers who only a couple of months later signed eventual two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who played for Golden State from 2016-19 and helped the Warriors win repeat championships in 2017 and ’18.
“We are going to win no matter what, I don’t care what the rules are,” said Lacob, who plans to get as much as he can out of Myers in the GM’s final month.
Lacob’s son, Kirk, and Mike Dunleavy Jr., are potential in-house replacements for Myers, who will help with the upcoming NBA Draft in a support role.
“There’s a good possibility it could be an internal candidate,” Lacob said of filling the job.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in March credited good friend Kerr and Myers for their commitment to acquiring players who want to be team-first and not just focus on individual success.
“He and Bob have been bringing guys in that can understand that,” Popovich said. “Every player can’t play that game, they just can’t do it. But they’ve brought in guys that understand it and that will play their roles for the sake of winning, and winning big.”
Myers spoke to the players and he heard from Durant—in Monaco—and will always cherish those relationships that aren’t always as friendly everywhere. Myers said watching and working with superstars Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Durant, “I’d do that for free.”
After becoming GM in 2012, Myers constructed the roster that won the 2015 championship for the franchise’s first title in 40 years. A father of three daughters, perhaps he will become a fan again, something he said is far easier than doing his job.
“This team is in great shape,” Myers said, “great shape.”
Image credits: AP