By late Tuesday night, the principal players in the Mark Jackson firing—Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, Stephen Curry and, of course, MJax himself in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami—had all sounded off on the matter, each to his own varying degree of polite professionalism.
Now to commence Operation: What Does Everyone Else Think?
First up, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who came out on the winning end of Jackson’s final game as Warriors skipper in the two’s Round 1 showdown:
Doc: "Things are crazy...Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years and gets fired."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 6, 2014
A thousand years is, of course, incorrect. It was actually a million years.
OK, it was 22—a long time, to be sure.
Regardless, Rivers’ reaction isn’t exactly surprising. The fraternity of professional coaches is known to be tight, which is why you seldom hear someone such as Jeff Van Gundy—now years removed from patrolling an NBA sideline—advocating on behalf of firing one of his own.
It’s also not surprising because—let’s be real—Mark Jackson did a pretty damn good job. Two straight playoff appearances (and an improved win percentage in three straight seasons) is nothing to shake a clipboard at, particularly in such an absurdly strong Western Conference.
But, as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski points out, Jackson’s termination was less about wins and losses than it was an increasingly rancorous clash of wills and ways:
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.
Once the embers cool, Jackson is bound to find a horse on the NBA’s coaching carousel, even if it means taking a year off to pursue other interests in the interim.
Indeed, there’s a distinct value to being labeled as a “players’ coach”—in the right situation and under the right ownership, that kind of clout can mean the difference between having a chance to help forge a genuine franchise identity and, well, being fired after two straight playoff appearances.
Might there be a better fit for what the Warriors are trying to achieve? There might. Is it just as likely that whoever replaces Jackson will be subject to the same ebbs and flows and fluctuations of fortunes as his predecessor? Sure it is.
Sometimes, finding the perfect coach means sticking with the one you’ve already got—something Doc Rivers knows a bit about.