Lowell Cohn: Bay Area’s five most interesting sports figures

  • 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh loses his cool after Joe Staley was called for a personal foul during the 2013 season opener against the Green Bay Packers, which the 49ers won, 34-28. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat, 2013)

Who are the five most interesting sports figures currently in the Bay Area?

By interesting I mean someone you could take out of his context and put in a novel, and you’d stay up all night reading about him. Think a Dostoyevsky novel. Al Davis fit this definition.

By interesting I don’t mean nice people. Nice people are often boring. I am talking about fascinating people, people who sometimes escape our understanding. Some who fit this definition in the past were Barry Bonds, Bill Walsh and Jose Canseco. They were (are) multilayered, complex, complicated, tortured, nice and not nice.

Here is my list of the five most interesting sports figures currently on the local scene.

5. Joe Lacob

He is the smartest team owner in the Bay Area. He already has put the Warriors on the verge of being an elite franchise like the Celtics. He did it fast. He got the land in San Francisco for a new arena the Niners should have had. How smart is that?

He has an ego as big as Texas. He loves to talk about himself. He wants you to hear his opinion. He has an opinion on everything. He believes he is an expert on basketball. He is like many self-made people with new money. He can be crass. He talks too much. He laughs out of context.

He loves to make decisions. Big decisions. He is a decider of the first order. He gets off on firing people. And hiring people. He brought in Jerry West. He has a general manager who is one of the best. He dumped a winning coach. He didn’t care about public opinion. He got the coach, Steve Kerr, everyone wanted. Even Phil Jackson and the Knicks wanted Kerr, but Lacob got him. Some owners think small. Lacob’s vision is as large as a movie-theater screen.

4. Vernon Davis

Who is this guy?

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