Warriors owner gets his way; Mark Jackson is fired

Warriors GM Bob Myers explains why Warriors fired Jackson

Mark Jackson was the only coach to lead the Golden State Warriors to back-to-back playoff appearances in more than 20 years, and his reward was being given a pink slip. If you find this decision outrageous you are not alone. But, you are also missing some of the finer more nuanced points that made this move necessary from management’s perspective.

Jackson was hired to do a job and he did it quite well. Even Lacob admitted in an interview with the San Jose Mercury’s Tim Kawakami today that Jackson was the “right guy” to turn the Warriors down-trodden culture around. Jackson did it with spirit, belief, energy and faith in his players. And, that faith was rewarded with tremendous effort and a dedication to what Jackson was selling.

Sometimes the man who leads you out of the desert is not the man who can lead you to water, and that is the opinion of the entire Warriors front office. From owner Joe Lacob to GM Bob Myers to “the logo” Jerry West, they all felt Jackson had to go as Myers said today the decision was “unanimous.” We all know what Jackson could do. Superior motivator, great communicator, not good but great. He also instilled a belief in his players that was paid back by their continued effort. But, in the end his “reported” fractured relationship with not only ownership but the entire front office forced Lacob’s hand. From all indications from those close to the team Jackson loved operating on an island, felt his way was the best way and didn’t want to be interfered with. This caused issues last year as he had reported clashes with his top assistant Mike Malone and also had two assistants jettisoned this year when they weren’t on the same page.

In these instances I can see Jackson’s point, he’s the coach, it’s his operation. Why should he have to tolerate people who he may think aren’t on board ? Well, when these coaches are put in place at the behest of the owner, and your boss, you better take heed. Jackson did not.

Personally I loved what Mark Jackson brought to the table. As a life-long Warriors fan I have seen enough losing to last a lifetime. His teams played with passion, joy and most importantly….HARD. I love great effort and his teams tried. I believe his players had no trouble playing hard for him. But, as much as I loved the guy, he did frustrate me with a roster that was an embarrassment of riches.

First, his substitution pattern drove me batty. I could not stand his penchant for whole-sale substitutions. Taking out his entire starting five and putting in his bench led to blown leads, lost rhythm and countless times when the Warriors would give up leads or fall further behind. The argument is made that he didn’t have much a of bench to put in these situations, which is fair. But, that lends credence to my point. Why make these whole-sale changes when your bench is deficient ?

Second, Jackson’s rigid management style rubbed his owner and GM the wrong way. No one is above ownership. Not even one of the best point guards to ever play the game. One thing was pretty obvious. Jackson only really likes answering to one boss, and that’s Jesus Christ. Any other person, including Lacob, who made suggestions to Jackson was not taken seriously. Lacob said as much today, saying that Jackson needs to work better with those up-the-food-chain in management. In short, Jackson didn’t like “playing the game.” And, he better learn to “play the game” before his next job because we all have bosses that we must answer to.

Third, while Jackson is the first Warriors coach since Al Attles to get this team to play defense, his offensive approach was lacking. Too  many times his isolation sets at the ends of games were predictable and lacked imagination. I love an isolation with a mis-match as much as the next guy. But,  it was Jackson’s go-to and it resulted in too many errant entry passes and led to a lot of standing around and watching one-on-one basketball at critical junctures of the game. When the Warriors are playing well the ball moves, there is a crispness and flow to their game. Jackson could bring that to a stand-still with is insistence on isolation plays.

Not being a coach, I don’t know how many “sets” and different plays the Warriors had and would run. But, I found it disconcerting that the Warriors big off-season acquisition Andre Iguodala was not more part of the offensive flow. Iggy was one of the more electrifying players in the league. I don’t know why some games he was such a non-factor. With his skill set there is no way he shouldn’t have been part of the Warriors offense. I just felt Jackson did not utilize Iguodala to his utmost capabilities, and there were times it really hurt the Warriors.

In closing, Jackson did an amazing job getting the Warriors to this point. But, Joe Lacob is the owner. He gets his way. He pays the bills. And, when Jackson put himself on an island and cut himself off from the front office, he had no chance.

Beware Steve Kerr, Fred Hoiberg, Lionel Hollins and Stan Van Gundy. If you think you are “taking over” the Warriors, think again.

No man is an island, and that certainly is the case for the Golden State Warriors and their front office brass.


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