There has been no bigger supporter of Mark Jackson than me. I was not happy when the Warriors let him go. I think Warriors owner Joe Lacob has piled on the former Warriors coach needlessly with some off-the-cuff remarks that were not warranted. And, I feel the Warriors wouldn’t be the team they are today if it weren’t for Jackson. When he took the Warriors job several years ago, he was the right guy at the right time.
With that said, a little of Jackson is going a long way these days and he needs to back off. His insinuations that he knows what’s best for the Warriors is not needed. Jackson was part of the broadcast crew on Friday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers visited the Oracle to take on the Golden State Warriors. During the game, MJax was given a rousing ovation by the Warriors faithful for a job well done in his three years as head coach. Then, he opened his mouth.
“I think Steve Kerr has done a great job. He’s sitting with the best team in basketball right now. He deserves a lot of credit. And I think while giving him credit, there’s no need to take credit away from the past. You cannot disrespect the caterpillar and rave about the butterfly.”
Really ? Who is disrespecting the butterfly ? Certainly not the Warriors fans I converse with on a daily basis. Jackson deserves credit for changing the Warriors culture and instituting a defensive mind-set that helped propel the Dubs to 51 wins last year. But, Jackson’s caterpillar also had some deficiencies that have held this team back.
No longer do we fans have to endure the incessant isolation offense that was Jackson’s bread and butter. He loved isolating his best players against “perceived” mis-matches. While this makes for one-on-one advantages, it also lends itself to players standing around watching each other. It’s not conducive to team basketball and clearly stunted the growth of several Warriors players.
Under Steve Kerr the ball moves. The offense relies on constant motion and constant movement. This engages all five players, while also taking advantage of the mis-matches based on this entertaining brand of team basketball. Harrison Barnes has flourished under this system as he is no longer asked to play the game on an island and create himself. Now, that he has become more part of the flow, he has become more creative and that has expanded his game. Andrew Bogut was simply a defensive presence under Jackson. What a waste ! Bogut is one of the supreme passing big men in the game. And, despite his numerous injuries, when healthy he is instrumental to the Warriors success because of his ability to pass, set screens and create for his mates. Bogut “feels” more part of the team now that he is a piece of their offense. He is also a dynamic rim protector who gives the Dubs a much needed enforcer. Jackson said on the Friday night broadcast, “the Warriors don’t need a rim protector. Rim protectors are over-rated.” Um, with Bogut the Warriors beat the Clippers in last year’s entertaining seven game first round series. Draymond Green was good under Jackson. He is an All-Star caliber player under Kerr. His talents have exploded, turning him into one of the most sought after free agents at the end of the year.
For Jackson to infer that he is not getting enough credit for the Warriors 29-5 start shows that he is still hurt and bothered by his ouster from the head coaching job. His comments about giving credit to the caterpillar show that he is looking to stay relevant in the Warriors discussion. He will always have a place in Warriors lore. Hopefully we look back and see him as the Paul Westhead of the Warriors run of success. Westhead who helped lead the Lakers to the 1980 NBA Title while Magic Johnson was a rookie was let go after Jerry Buss did not deem him to be the long-term solution despite the successful campaign. Jackson is a solid basketball man but was simply not the right guy to lead the Warriors to long-term and sustained success.
I will always be a Jackson fan, but his comments on Friday night reeked of desperation to stay relevant. In my mind, his pride is getting in the way. Caterpillar comments were not needed. Graciousness would have gone a long way in making Lacob look worse than he did in the whole coaching drama. Instead, Jackson’s dig made Lacob’s move all the more understandable.