After a tumultuous three seasons as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Mark Jackson is heading back to the broadcast table.
ESPN later confirmed the deal:
Mama, there goes that man. Mark Jackson will rejoin Mike Breen & Jeff Van Gundy for the rest of the NBA Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/1cziyUAH1i— ESPN (@espn) May 17, 2014
Frank Isola of the NY Daily News reports on a specific term in the contract that may be important down the line:
Mark Jackson's new ABC/ESPN deal does not preclude him from taking a head coaching job. (Sorry for previous typo.)— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 17, 2014
Jackson returned to the booth immediately as he, Van Gundy and Breen will call the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals.
Before calling Game 1, LeBron James gave Jackson a big hug via gifdsports:
After the Pacers Game 1 win, Jackson sent out a tweet talking about his new gig:
It was Awesome being back on TV today! Love my crew. Honored that they wanted me back! #Blessed— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) May 19, 2014
After falling to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, Jackson was fired by the Warriors—despite the fact that Jackson led Golden State to consecutive playoff appearances, including a postseason series win last year.
As pointed out by ESPN's Bomani Jones, the firing likely had more to do with how Jackson and owner Joe Lacob got along rather than what Jackson accomplished on the court:
ultimately, the warriors fired the guy the roster liked for a guy the owner liked. man, this is gonna be fun to watch http://t.co/2Agf9B6dWQ— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) May 15, 2014
After shaping the Warriors into a playoff contender, many expected Jackson to quickly catch on elsewhere as a head coach. The New York Knicks were naturally mentioned since Jackson starred in New York as a player, but nothing came to fruition.
ESPN's Jemele Hill theorized that Jackson wouldn't have fit in with what Knicks president Phil Jackson is trying to do:
The PR-save-face move is for Phil to hire Mark Jackson, but Phil wanted someone he could mold and coach through. Mark Jackson ain't that guy— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) May 15, 2014
Even though some people might hold a grudge when put in Jackson's position, he seemed comfortable with his position in the wake of getting fired, per Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
I'm a guy that's totally at peace. That hasn't changed. When the opportunity presents itself, I'll be coaching or doing something else. I'm totally at peace and fine with waiting for the next move. And that's if I never coach again and that's if I coach again. That hasn't changed. I will continue to conduct myself and carry myself as consistent as the public has seen, not just for three years but for my entire life.
Is returning to broadcasting a smart move for Jackson?
One can only assume that future coaching opportunities will present themselves, but returning to ESPN is a great fit for Jackson in the meantime.
He received a great deal of praise for his broadcasting ability prior to becoming the Warriors' head coach, and he clearly had fantastic synergy with Breen and Van Gundy.
ESPN's playoff coverage has been bolstered in a big way with the re-acquisition of Jackson. if nothing else, returning to ESPN will ensure that Jackson's name and likeness remain fresh in the minds of teams looking for coaches down the line.
It can be argued that Jackson got a raw deal with the Warriors, but basketball fans have to be thrilled that some good will come of it.
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