Since when has 51 wins not been enough?
To the public eye, the firing of Mark Jackson seems strange, odd, and outrageous. However to close fans of the Golden State Warriors, it was a foreseeable event.
Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob and General Manager Bob Myers moved swiftly in their decision to let Jackson go, as it was just a few days following their elimination from the playoffs. One can come to the conclusion that it was a premeditated decision regardless of the outcome of the playoffs. The Warriors could have made a deeper playoff run compared to last year and Jackson would have still been gone.
A strong reason for Lacob and Myers’ decision could have been Jackson’s personality. The stories of the relationship between Jackson and other personnel came flowing out this season: Brian Scalabrine demotion, firing of Darren Erman, past issues with former assistant Mike Malone, and the list goes on.
The turmoil that Jackson had between varieties of staff may have been thought of as a ticking time bomb by management. He was known for his inability to cooperate with personnel with conflicting ideas. Jackson’s issues with working with other people could have evolved into a bigger problem which may have resulted to more assistant coaches vanishing. It could have been Jackson on the sideline by himself, and he would not have a problem with it at all.
Although Jackson had a plethora of issues off the court, he was still able to win games. With all of the distractions this season, he was still able to manage to coach his team to consecutive playoff appearances and 51 wins, the most the Warriors have achieved since 1994. Many also bring up the fact that this man revolutionized the culture of the Warriors and turned them into potential championship contenders. But what if those feats were not good enough to please the ownership?
With a star-studded cast, many predicted this Warriors team to be in the top tier of the Western Conference. Being able to grab just the sixth seed in the West was a bit of a disappointment. Management wanted and expected more than just a sixth seed from this team. The pieces were there, and it was up to Jackson to lead his team to more victories. Lacob and Myers’ demand for more was an attainable goal for this group.
The Warriors went on a tear on the road this season by tying the franchise record with 29 wins. The biggest concerns were the questionable losses at home. They suffered losses at the hands of the depleted San Antonio Spurs, inferior Washington Wizards, and terrible New York Knicks teams all on their home court. Those losses were caused by the tactics that Jackson employed.
Fans have taken note of some of Jackson’s predictable coaching decisions. One infamous strategy that Jackson used was playing with five bench players at once. Instead of integrating the reserves with the starting unit, he did a mass substitution to take his starters out of the game. Even if the reserves went scoreless for a period or a stretch, Jackson would seem unfazed at what was going on and kept them in.
Another approach of Jackson’s was the isolation calls on offense. The offensive tempo would be destroyed by Jermaine O’Neal, Jordan Crawford, or Klay Thompson isolation plays which would often result with missed shots or turnovers. The frequent calling for isolations reflected his limitations of drawing up offensive plays.
Jackson had a strong belief in his reserves’ abilities, which may have squandered the chances of six or seven more wins. In the Western Conference, one win holds a lot of value; it can make a team slightly climb up in seeding or take a pitfall down the standings.
Lacob and Myers’ reason to lay off Jackson remains ambiguous. However, the decision has been made, and management is looking to move into a new direction. The Warriors would love to put this ordeal behind them and move on, but the dismissal of Jackson may have repercussions.
During the All-Star Weekend this year in New Orleans, former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul shared his story of leaving the franchise. After his longtime running mate and best friend, Tyson Chandler, was traded away, Paul began thinking about relocating to a new team. A year after Chandlers’ departure, former Hornets’ head coach Byron Scott was fired by the GM. All of the decisions by the Hornets’ management led to Paul ultimately asking for a trade which sent him to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Teammates and coaches can create lifetime bonds with one another. One move by management can have a disastrous outcome in the future. Key players have voiced their opinions about Jackson. The star of the Warriors, Stephen Curry, stated that he had a lot of love toward Jackson and that Jackson’s job being under scrutiny was “unfair”. Draymond Green, who is evolving into a player the Warriors want to keep around, also showed his affection toward Jackson.
The collapse of the Hornets franchise is an event the Warriors’ management would want to avoid. For the sake of the franchise, the front office must be very careful with their decisions from here on out.