On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, the Golden State Warriors officially ended the tenure of Mark Jackson.
In three seasons, he led the Warriors to two postseason berths, which included a first round upset over the Denver Nuggets last season. This move came as a shock to the Warriors’ fan base and to most players on the roster. Jackson took this team from one of the laughing-stocks of the league into perennial contenders in the Western Conference.
It has been reported that Jackson did not have the best relationship with owner Joe Lacob and General Manager Bob Myers. There were also the incidents with his assistant coaches, Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman. Scalabrine was reassigned to Santa Cruz because he was being disrespectful to Jackson. Erman was let go because he was secretly recording conversations of other coaches and players without their consent. Through all this turmoil, the Warriors’ players continued to play hard for Jackson and expressed their admiration for him each and every day.
This is exactly why this move could backfire on the organization because the players loved and admired him so much. Stephen Curry came out last week and said “it would be a shock” if Jackson wasn’t back. Andre Iguodala came to this team because of the effort the Warriors and Jackson gave in the upset of his Nuggets in last year’s playoffs. Jermaine O’Neal said it was a pleasure to play for Jackson and he will have continued success what ever he does. Draymond Green was very adamant about his feelings to Jackson tweeting, “Words can’t explain how much you mean to me and have done for.”
Every player had something great to say about Jackson throughout the season. It was clear that the Warriors had a tight-knit group, which is rare in professional sports. Now you have an owner that gets rid of that cohesiveness between the coach and his players? It may spell doom for this organization.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for the Warrior players with countless players saying they were playing for Coach Jackson’s job. These guys battled for this coach and almost pulled off an incredible upset of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors took the Clippers to seven games without their starting center, Andrew Bogut and backup center, Jermaine O’Neal against the best power forward-center duo in the NBA, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors used small ball to combat the Clippers big men but it was not enough for the Warriors or Jackson to keep his job.
Steve Kerr, Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau look to be the frontrunners to become the new leader of the Golden State Warriors. Whoever comes in and replaces Jackson needs to get the same effort out of these players and must develop Curry and Thompson into the best backcourt in the NBA. Anything less than a trip to the Western Conference Finals next season will be a failure for this organization because those were the expectations with Jackson.
If the new man in charge cannot accomplish these goals with this roster, it will be a failure and will lead to a mass exodus of this roster, especially if they see their former coach having success elsewhere.