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GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS MEDIA CONFERENCE


March 11, 2020


Rick Welts

Bob Myers


Oakland, California

RICK WELTS: Greatest level of cooperation possible and collaborating with them on coming up with a policy that affects not just the Warriors but all events at Chase Center over at least the next two weeks. We don't know what happens after that. The city will reevaluate their position. I was in touch with the NBA immediately after the meeting with the mayor, and the NBA agreed the best way forward for us was to play tomorrow night's game without fans, so that is what we're planning to do.

There is, as has been widely reported, a call with all 30 teams this afternoon where the league will conduct a discussion about the way forward for our season. As San Francisco has really been the first domino to fall here, I think there is a lot of speculation that other cities will look at what San Francisco is doing, and we potentially could have other NBA cities affected the way we are in the not-too-distant future.

It's a developing story. We don't know how it's going to end, and you will probably know as soon as we know a lot of the information that's going to come forward from here. Do you want to talk about our team?

BOB MYERS: You know, this is brand new stuff for myself, Rick, our players. I'm sure everybody here and listening or watching. But we've been taught since we were young, and rightly so, that health is first priority in life, and that's what we messaged to our players. A lot of them have families, have parents, have kids, and understood what's going on here, and it's bigger than the Warriors. It's a serious situation.

So there's a lot of different opinions on what should be done, what could be done, but I think we would all agree, and we're also always taught it's better to be safe than sorry, so we're choosing that course along with the city. Rick has done a tremendous job trying to figure this all out, and it hasn't been easy because the ground is shifting under our feet. I expect that to continue to happen.

But as far as the response of our coaching staff, our players, it was somber. This is not something I imagine any of them have ever done or will have to do. They're professionals. They're human beings. We'll be okay. We feel for the workers mostly, the low-income wage earners that count on working our games. I think if you're going to have empathy, have it for them, not for us. We play basketball.

It's a big business, but we're just playing basketball. There's a lot more important things going on out there.

Luckily we have good leadership in Rick and our owners Joe and Peter. Steve Kerr is a great steward that we have to lead our players. But this is -- it's a hard -- it's a sobering moment to enter into this kind of unknown.

We're just like you guys; we'll do the best we can as information becomes more available.

RICK WELTS: I want to follow up on Bob's point because we have 1,500 part-time employees who have their jobs because of Chase Center and the events that we have here, and for me this is the hardest part because we do have a number of those who live paycheck to paycheck who this is going to impact a lot more than it's going to impact our players, me, Bob or anybody in this room. I don't want that to get lost in the conversation about what something like this means in terms of its impact to our city because it goes way beyond the core business of playing NBA basketball games for sure.

Q. Rick, San Francisco officials certainly made it known publicly that they were looking for this maybe a little earlier. Was there discussion -- was that opinion made known to you, that San Francisco officials wanted maybe even last night's game or even Saturday's game to fall under this?
RICK WELTS: You know, we were given a head's up on the city's directive before it happened, I would say probably in communications with the mayor's office 10 times a day. We implemented CDC guidelines two weeks before that declaration by the city. This is the cleanest arena in the world, and we did not feel, based on the best advice that we could get, that anyone was being put at risk.

And so every day these changed. We said, at the same time circumstances change every day, and I feel the circumstances have changed. What I wanted to express to the mayor today was just like we're in this together, we're all in this together, and we're going to do whatever we can to cooperate and do the responsible thing.

We felt there was a tipping point, and we're at that tipping point. Whether or not this is the right course of action, the wrong course of action, somebody will come back a year from now and decide whether the decisions that were made were smart at the time they were made, and hopefully we're doing the right thing.

Q. How on the table was cancelling the game altogether, and how on the table do you think it still is moving forward for the league?
RICK WELTS: Yeah, impossible to know. There was no discussion of cancelling tomorrow night, either with the city or with essential personnel only or with the NBA. So that didn't come up. It wasn't raised in our discussion. But this afternoon's call and I'm sure a lot of calls after that will determine what the way forward is going to be.

Q. You were talking about the impact on your wage employees, the ushers, people like that. Is there anything the team can do to soften that blow? I know I'm asking you guys to play Santa Claus, but you understand what I mean.
RICK WELTS: Well, I think you're seeing it both at the city level -- I hope you see a lot of it in terms of things that may change -- and Federal Government actually, even our Federal Government is talking about some changes in the way taxes are assessed and things like that that would be of help.

We're going to be supportive in any way we can. We have a business model that depends on hosting live events, so we're in a tough spot there. But I think we're all in this together. Our government has, I think, an obligation here. Our city government, our county government, our federal government, our state, to understand the impact not just on our 1,500 workers but on the thousands of other workers that fall into exactly the same category.

I hope we are sympathetic to that, and I hope we do things that are going to help.

Q. The statement said no fans, but does that mean literally no fans, or might there be some let in?
RICK WELTS: Yeah, it's a work in progress. This is a couple hours old, so I can't tell you exactly. I don't anticipate any fans.

Now, I don't know if I get to go. I hope I do, and I assume Bob has to go, so there will be people there interested in the game who aren't playing, but we're not anticipating like having some subset of our existing season ticket holder group attend or anything like that.

Q. What about the media?
RICK WELTS: Actually Raymond is in touch right now -- I don't know that we've got a definitive...

Q. Can you tell us anything about what the game experience is going to be like? Are you going to have a PA announcer?
BOB MYERS: Yeah, I mean, again, if you're here, I'll be there. Very imperfect environment to compete in, but again, I don't want to prioritize -- we'll be fine, but as far as how we're going to do it, we engaged our players, do you want music, do you want it before? I don't think we're going to pretend like fans are there. You know, I've never been to a game without fans, so I don't know that any of you have. We're going to try to -- I would imagine it will be -- this is going to be so different --

RICK WELTS: We'll have a stats crew, we'll have a PA announcer to help explain what's going on during the game if there's fouls that have to be explained, we'll have statistics on the scoreboards, we'll have radio and television broadcasts, that will happen. But beyond that, as Bob said, in consulting with the players, they kind of think it's weird not to have at least some -- they have music during practice, they'd like some music when they're warming up.

Q. So the basic input from the player was they'd like to have some --
BOB MYERS: Look, they're a little bit -- we just hit them with this in realtime so it's not as if they had the evening -- they may show up at shootaround with some ideas and say, hey, we thought about it and we were wondering if we could do X, and we'll comply as much as we can. But also there's a seriousness to this, too, so we're trying to balance being civil and respectful of what is happening and also we're playing a game. But we're going to play the game. And there's a lot -- we may not be in a position where we are competing for a playoff spot, but Brooklyn is. And there's many teams out there that are.

There's a competitive component that you have to respect, that you have to respect the league. Our players are professionals, so they have to -- just like we would have to go to work under not ideal conditions, but we do want to listen to them and hear them, and if we can do things that make their evening or work product a little bit better, we'll do it. But honestly, I think there's no tee shirts getting shot into anywhere, which is going to be very, very different. Very different deal.

RICK WELTS: Can I go back to Tim's question, because I want to feel like I'm giving the most honest answer I can give. One of the complications in addition to the employees that are depending upon us is we are in a 30-team league, and every decision that's being made in the Bay Area right now, not only is going to affect every other team in the NBA, it's going to affect every other team in other sports that are in season right now.

So we take that responsibility really seriously, too, and want to -- have been in touch with -- I can't even count the number of teams and other leagues that we've been in touch with. So this is a big deal. This step is a very, very big deal. We feel like we're making it at the appropriate time. But it's going to have an affect on other teams and other leagues, as well.

Q. Just to follow up on that, could you see playing -- changing up, until San Francisco says something, will they lead the way on when you can have a crowd back at a game?
RICK WELTS: Sure, no, we've told the city we're following their direction, their guidance.

Q. Bob, after this game, you'll be going on -- the team will be going on a road trip. Whatever the cities are, however the news breaks, will you be putting your players and coaches and staffers through airports and through buses and into different arenas that may have fans at them, too?
BOB MYERS: Sure, there's a concern right now in this room. There's a concern about getting on a -- yeah, absolutely, and as that information -- that's, again, to fall back on Rick, this isn't a -- the Warriors -- there's 30 teams, so I don't know. We'll follow the NBA's lead. We'll follow the health officials' lead. We'll follow the government, the CDC, the WHO, but to sit up here and say there's not concerns, I'm concerned today, I'm concerned tomorrow. We all should be concerned, a week from now, two weeks. Are we all living appropriately, who are we listening to.

So I don't know. I mean, that's the honest answer. But yes, I'm concerned about all of us. You're seeing what's happening around the world in other leagues. So this is the start. I don't surmise that this is the only thing that's going to happen in our sport. I just don't foresee the Warriors aren't having fans and that's the end of the issue. I think that's a little nave.

Q. This is obviously still such an unknown and the human aspect masters most, but how do you see this potentially affecting revenue and salary -- future salary caps, particularly if you've got to cancel games in the future.
RICK WELTS: We don't know. Our player compensation system is based on basketball-related income, and this will affect basketball-related income, just like the other issue we've had in China over the course of the year has already affected basketball-related income for this season, and who knows going forward. It's part of our -- there's a formula that calculates that that's our agreement with the players on how they're compensated, so I think we have to -- we don't know. We don't know what the impact is going to be.

BOB MYERS: The answer we do know is it will. To what degree, nobody knows.

Q. It was reported that potentially you guys would play games in places where there might be outbreaks. Would you be behind that plan if that were to come to fruition?
RICK WELTS: You know, I don't think we're here to speculate on what the NBA might decide to do. I'm sure we're going to be in complete agreement and support whatever the NBA does decide to do. But I don't want to speculate on what that might be.

Q. Bob, you mentioned that the atmosphere amongst the players was somber. Did any of the players or coaches express to you either an unwillingness or uneasiness to continue playing, given what's going on right now?
BOB MYERS: No, nobody -- again, we shouldn't judge anybody's immediate reaction. I think to kind of blind side somebody, I think everybody was aware of the possibility, but then for it to become a reality, which it was, I think a lot of players and coaches and even us who may have had an idea this could have been a possibility, it was more of, wow, this is really happening. Nobody said, I don't want to play.

But again, in fairness to them and anybody, these things are -- it takes a little time to process how to react to them, what's the appropriate reaction. No discussions like that occurred.

But we will give room to those discussions should they arise.

Q. Also the statement was made that there will be issued refunds for tomorrow's game. Is that an immediate payout and you're going to refund the money or is it a credit to next season?
RICK WELTS: Yeah, that process is still being worked out, but at least the season ticket holders we've been in touch with want to credit their next season's tickets, but we're providing an option. We're responding individually to what they want to do.

Q. And obviously health and safety is always the most important concern, but is it safe to say that this is potentially a multimillion dollar loss for the Warriors?
RICK WELTS: Tens of millions of dollars, yes. Multimillion dollars for one game.

Q. I know you talked about this to some extent about being one in a group of 30, but is there any type of conversations about a consensus for the entire league at this point or having those types of discussions at this point yet?
RICK WELTS: That's the purpose of the call this afternoon that we're having with all 30 teams.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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