Mark Jackson is an interesting figure in broadcasting. He’s one of those guys who is certainly unafraid to say what’s on his mind, but in Jackson’s case that can work against him, since what’s on his mind is often quite a bit out there.
Like when he brought up Richard Jefferson costing a Jackson-coached Golden State team a playoff game, out of nowhere. Or when he used D’Angelo Russell to take a shot at a former Warriors assistant. Or, obviously, when Jackson’s career as Golden State coach ended, which featured quite a few crazy storylines.
Of course, that Jackson was fired after a relatively successful run with the Warriors has led to a few awkward moments when he’s asked to analyze Golden State games in his role at ESPN. That bled over last night as Jackson called out ESPN’s marketing for the Warriors/Grizzlies game for being heavily slanted towards Golden State:
Here’s a transcript, via Uproxx:
“I’m watching TV promoting Wednesday’s game, Portland at Golden State and then tonight’s game Memphis at Golden State and the commercial says ‘Who’s it gonna be: Dray. Clay. Steph. KD. Who’s gonna go off tonight? Grizzlies. Warriors.’
OK. Are you kidding me? Let’s show some respect to the opposition. Whether it’s Damian Lillard. Whether it’s CJ McCollum. Whether it’s Marc Gasol. Mike Conley. There’s more to pump up a game than four players from a particular team. When I was coaching the opposition’s team, I’d end the pregame meeting with that commercial by our very own ESPN.”
Again, Jackson works for ESPN. His point isn’t entirely without merit. ESPN loves nothing more than to jump on the juggernaut promotion, whether it was the vintage Patriots or the 2016 Cubs. It becomes easy to lock in on that side to get viewers, which is the entire point of network promotion. But, on the other hand, the kind of viewer who is going to be swayed by a commercial only cares that the Warriors are playing. There aren’t neutral or casual fans sitting at home thinking “Well, it’s Steph and KD, sure, but now that I know Mike Conley is playing I’m all in!”
That’s just the way of the world. Jackson tends to struggle with that kind of perspective, and it’s silly to pretend he doesn’t have an agenda. It’s similar to Jeff Van Gundy always being effusive in his praise for coaches. (“No coach should ever be fired” basically sums up his philosophy on NBA coach firings.) But ESPN probably isn’t too pleased that he chose this particular spot to voice his concerns.