The dust had scarce settled on the Golden State Warriors’ firing of head coach Mark Jackson Tuesday afternoon before Joe Lacob—the franchise’s majority owner—sounded off to select members of the Bay Area press.
Here’s a bit of what he had to say, via the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami:
Mark, I mean, he’s a very compelling guy. And we spent over an hour and a half with him this morning.
You always wonder whether you’re doing the right thing, right? It’s not a simple thing.
Look we decided it really last night, this morning was when the decision was made. And met with Mark. We didn’t want to mess around–once we’d made that decision, we’d done our due diligence, spent a very hard 48 hours after the season, we made a decision.
Lacob made it clear that, despite having just fired a coach who won 51 games in a historically great Western Conference and came within one bad game of upending a Los Angeles Clippers team that looks every bit the part of a Finals lock, he’d prefer you not think of him as a “tough ogre,” thank you very much.
While Lacob didn’t put it quite this way, it’s safe to say Jackson—a stubborn firebrand in his own right—had worn out his welcome in Dubsville.
Mark Jackson doesn't have one GSW front office ally who'll make a case to ownership to keep him. "He's on an island," league source says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 4, 2014
In his attendant column, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski parsed out the source of the organization’s underlying tensions:
Jackson clashed constantly with management and struggled to manage his coaching staff during his Warriors tenure. Jackson’s lack of interest in game preparation and reluctance to practice despite a mostly young and gifted roster played a part in management’s reluctance to commit long term to him, league sources said.
Jackson relied on an assistant coach, Darren Erman, to build a top-five defense, but Erman was fired late in the season after an incident that involved the taping of a conversation among the coaching staff.
In spite of the rather reactionary decision, Lacob was adamant that he and Jackson’s rapport had always been simpatico:
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad exchange in any way with Mark.
So I think we get along really well. We may have some differences in philosophy per se, but I think we get along well. And I think Bob can probably say the same thing for the most part.
It’s not like there was a bad relationship here.
Heavy, heavy emphasis on “was.”
The focus now shifts to finding a replacement for Jackson. As Bleacher Report’s Scott Burns outlined earlier Tuesday, Fred Hoiberg, Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy are just three of the more glitzy names Golden State could pursue over the coming days and weeks.
Whomever the Warriors tap, he’ll be inheriting a team with plenty of holes to fill, overall depth being perhaps chief among them. And that’s before we even get to potential chemistry issues, steadfast as most of the Warriors were in their support for Jackson.
Over the last three years, Coach Jackson has challenged me as a player and person. His experience and guidance has helped each of us grow in this league.
Can’t thank him enough for all he did for me. I wish him all the best as he transitions to the next chapter.
One of the principle criticisms of the NBA is that it’s become too superstar driven—that the LeBron Jameses, Kevin Durants and Stephen Currys of the world hold far too much sway in their organization’s decision-making apparatus.
Golden State’s gambit doesn’t exactly disprove that theory, but it does serve as a convenient reminder that, when all’s said and done, “owners” are termed such for a reason.
Stephen Curry: "I want Coach Jackson to be that guy leading us."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 4, 2014