In an emotional press conference following the Warriors' 94-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Jackson held court as he has all season with pregnant pauses, penetrating eye contact and a penchant for hyperbole.
Among his many heartfelt proclamations, Jackson expressed the pride he felt in his team's accomplishments.
"I could not be prouder of any group. I could go on & win championships...I will not be prouder of any group I ever coach." - Mark Jackson— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 17, 2013
Jackson is a great speaker, and now we know he's also a fantastic motivator. But sometimes, his rhetoric sounds a little blustery. That wasn't the case after Game 6. This time, the emotion was undeniably real.
Mark Jackson was smiling as he sat down at the podium but tears welled up as he started talking about how proud he is of this team.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 17, 2013
Part of what helped Jackson succeed as a coach this year was the connection he established with the players. To a man, the Warriors raved all year about the environment in practice and in the locker room. Coaches don't normally become friends with every player on the roster, but Jackson did that.
And it paid dividends, as the young Warriors played their hearts out for their coach this year. Stephen Curry fought through two ugly ankle sprains in the postseason, taking a handful of painkilling injections just to get onto the court. Andrew Bogut did the same, and even though he could hardly move, he gave it a shot in Game 6.
Mark Jackson said they knew this morning that Andrew Bogut wasn't going to be near top form tonight.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 17, 2013
So it shouldn't be surprising that the general felt such a strong bond with his troops as they left the battlefield.
Coach Mark Jackson visibly emotional as Curry, Jack, and Klay come off. #warriors— Bud Geracie (@WakeOfWeek) May 17, 2013
What is amazing is that the connection between Jackson and his players has spread all over the place. The fans in Oracle Arena have grown closer to this team than any other, and from the players' perspective, the feeling is mutual.
Get ready for goosebumps.
Maybe the Warriors will win a ring someday. And maybe they won't make the playoffs for another 20 years. But whatever happens, Jackson is dead right: This is a team to be proud of.