You've heard of Nixon going to China, but how about Guber going to China? You will soon. A Youtube video that's recently been making the rounds amongst waterfront arena opponents shows a newsclip from last fall's Golden State Warriors team trip to China. In it, Warriors co-owner Peter Guber takes a stab at a joke—and ends up with a self-inflicted wound.
Standing atop the Great Wall of China, Guber issues the following head-scratcher, "We're thinking that maybe we could build this wall around the whole arena and have our own kind of event around it. But we're just challenged by that." Say what, exactly? Did Guber just hand arena opponents a perfect nugget of a soundbyte to help them make the case that the arena is a private land grab of public property meant to enrich two billionaires at the expense of average Joe Taxpayers? Yes, yes he did. Check out this clip at around 0:24 to see the gaffe for yourself.
To be fair, it seems most likely that Guber was trying to make a joke. His co-owner Joe Lacob manages to summon up a mild chuckle, at least. But it doesn't take very much to inflame an already tense situation around waterfront development. And it certainly plays into the hands of opponents of the Warriors, like the Waterfront Alliance led by former mayor Art Agnos and former Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin. In this week's excellent cover story in SF Weekly, Agnos is quoted as saying "We don't need a basketball team to be a great city," and repeatedly comparing the Warriors Arena to a supersized version of the ill-fated 8 Washington condos. As you'll recall, Agnos & Friends dubbed that one the "Wall on the Waterfront."
The parallels run even more closely than that. As SF Weekly writer Joe Eskenazi points out, "The oft-repeated refrain about a looming 'wall on the waterfront' traces back more than half a century (though, in a less politically correct age, it was referred to as a 'Chinese Wall.').
There you go. Maybe Guber was just being retro.