Now, the rhetoric’s revving up.
In a slew of radio appearances Wednesday afternoon, Jackson spoke with a slightly more jaded edge about the circumstances—some would say controversy—surrounding his dismissal following a 51-win season in which he led the Warriors to their second-consecutive playoff appearance for the first time in 22 seasons.
Here's one of his comments from an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, per Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group:
Mark Jackson to Dan Patrick: "51 is not enough, and having a real chance is not enough. Now they've got to do it, so I'm pulling for them."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
This is the perfect example of how Jackson is now taking a sentiment expressed Tuesday—that he’s pulling for his former team—and infusing it with a dash of vitriol.
Leung relayed several more comments Jackson made after his firing, including:
Mark Jackson upset by tweets on firing while he was in meeting: "That's not how you do business & you're worried about business relations?"— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
A fair point if ever there was one, of course. That’s the kind of public relations bungle to which fans will understandably be pointing to over the coming days and weeks as the Warriors brass—led by owner Joe Lacob—commences what could be a lengthy process of damage control.
Mark Jackson to 95.7 The Game: "Obviously there were some things that if I was them, I would do better, but I'm not getting into that."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
You mean, like, not sending out tweets about your firing before you’re technically fired?
Mark Jackson told Sirius XM Joe Lacob's expectation of a top-4 Western Conference team "unrealistic" given quality of conference & injuries.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
By all accounts, Jackson’s firing was never so much about wins and losses as it was a philosophical divide. Some speculation implied off-court issues with management developed due to Jackson’s longstanding Christian faith and reluctance to live in the Bay Area full-time.
Mark Jackson on his faith: "If it was true, you don't encourage media to come and do a piece on my church, on my ministry, on my faith."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
Mark Jackson: "Don't do it when it's convenient & you're searching f/ something. I never went around beating people on the head w/ a bible."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
Mark Jackson to 95.7 on not moving to Bay Area issue: "Don't look for excuses. Just say it didn't work & let's move on like grown folks."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
Back in March, ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss dove a bit deeper into the role religion had begun to play in how Jackson's tenure was being viewed.
If you’re looking for a reason as to why a seemingly successful coach lacks fan support, you might tilt your head in this direction. The Bay Area isn’t the Bible Belt, after all. According to The Atlantic, it’s actually the least religious major metro area of the country, with only 24 percent of residents claiming “very religious” status.
How big a factor did Jackson’s faith actually play within the Warriors' decision-making process? According to SFGate.com’s Ann Killion—who penned a particularly provocative piece on the matter immediately after yesterday’s announcement—more than we might think:
After Jackson was hired, the embarrassing story came out that he had been extorted by a stripper a few years back, who allegedly had nude pictures of Jackson. In another embarrassment, an associate of his church who had attended his hiring press conference was arrested on drug trafficking charges. Those issues led to charges of hypocrisy by a man who thumped the bible as often as possible.
None of this was quite Donald Sterling-esque. But it was probably not the image the Warriors wanted to project, especially as they lobbied hard to move to San Francisco.
Then there were the much-publicized dismissals (or “reassignments, depending on whom you ask) of two assistants: Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman.
Mark Jackson told Sirius XM Brian Scalabrine showed disrespect and what Darren Erman did was inexcusable.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
Mark Jackson to Sirius XM on Brian Scalabrine, Darren Erman: "The only fault I got is hiring those guys."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
During his interview with 95.7 The Game, Jackson expounded a bit more on the controversy surrounding Golden State's mid-season coaching coups (per Sherwood Strauss).
And unfortunately the second issue is well documented now. Disappointing ... but when you create an environment that seeks something like that or creates something like that, it's unfortunate. And I can't say as far as what has been documented, relationships and all that, because for the life of me I can't figure it out. I'd like them to identify who it is that I have a problem with and friction with. Come on out and talk. Come on out and say that I treated you wrong, I treated you bad.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Scalabrine or Erman responds directly to Jackson’s barbs or whether one or both, mired as they are at the bottom of the coaching totem pole, opt to remain mum.
In the end, though, what Jackson is sure to hold high is the idea he never really got a fair shake—that ownership, driven though they were to reestablish a winning culture, too often missed the forest for the trees.
"This ownership group has never experienced bad basketball or yrs, yrs of not winning. So winning, they don't understand how tough it is."— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) May 7, 2014
Unfortunately, this may get more sour and sordid before it gets better. Both Jackson and the Warriors have some decisions to make—the Warriors on who will be tapped to coach a team who just had its chemistry shaken, and Jackson on whether to fling himself immediately back into the NBA meat grinder, or take a slice of time to do some soul-searching.
This much is obvious: Should Jackson choose to remain in the coaching ranks, he'll certainly be given a long, hard look by teams raring to fill spots, most notably the Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz.
However this unfolds, Jackson’s firing certainly sets a unique precedent for the dynamics between coaches hired to win—which Jackson undoubtedly did—and the owners who didn’t earn that moniker by settling for simple and steady improvement.