The Golden State Warriors, a team who has had a very mediocre NBA history & a team who is looking to bring in a new identity to their organization, fired head coach Mark Jackson on Tuesday, in a move that was widely rumored & speculated on, but was completely unjust.
After the Warriors lost in an epic, controversial 7-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers, which was marred with controversy with the Donald Sterling situation casting a cloud over the series that turned out to the one of the best of the first round, Jackson was on the hot seat almost immediately, with rumors that he was going to be let go soon coming out basically as the final buzzer went off ending their season at the Staples Center.
Why was it unjust you say? It wasn’t because of the record (Warriors won 51 games & made the NBA playoffs in two straight seasons), but because he had no friends in the Warriors organization outside of………..wait for it…
……….the players. The players who played their hearts out for Jackson.
None of us can say that Jackson wasn’t an overachiever. He went from playing on the court into the booth as one of the best game announcers on the NBA on ABC, where he worked regularly with Mike Breen & Jeff Van Gundy. That trio was quite possibly, the best trio in the NBA in terms of really breaking down the in-game action & integrating entertainment into the broadcast.
The Golden State Warriors took interest in Jackson’s style on-air & brought him into the fold, replacing former Stanford Head Coach Mike Montgomery. Jackson transitioned well after a tough first year, but for the Warriors to make the playoffs in two straight years, & be considered one of the better teams in the NBA Western Conference under Jackson, showed that there was something deeper that was going on than just Xs & Os.
Yes, could Jackson have worked a bit better with the front office? Absolutely. But that can be said in any form of work environment that we work in today. If you are not kissing up to the front office, its hard to gain respect & security in your work place.
The main place where I can see where Jackson could have done a bit better was working with his assistant coaches. While we don’t know exactly what goes on behind the scenes, there were reports put out by ESPN.com about a particular coach – Darren Erman – who was let go because of being accused of privately recording conversations.
Erman eventually signed with the Boston Celtics, but for a coach & organization that seemed on the outside was going strongly with the way the franchise was moving with having Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, & David Lee – guys who can be the core building blocks of a new era of Warriors basketball & with a coach like Jackson who relates to the players & who the players respect, the assistant coaches may not always like Jackson, but the key is that he won.
Jackson was consistent & got maximum effort from each player on the roster. In a day & age where the NBA – & pro sports as a whole – is looking for a person in an organization that people can look up to & respect about how they go about their business, guys like Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, Kevin McHale, Pat Riley & Mark Jackson are just some guys who have been in front office positions that command respect & makes not only great basketball players out of guys, but to help build leaders out of young men who most likely have a strong sense of entitlement.
The Golden State Warriors will be looking at candidate such as Steve Kerr most likely, & Jackson will not be out of a job long, whether its coaching or back in the broadcast booth. Either way, Mark Jackson is clearly a motivator, even when the organization wasn’t the motivating factor.