The Golden State Warriors are a tale of two broadcasters turned coaches. Mark Jackson first took the plunge and found pretty good success considering the longtime moribund state of the franchise. But after a 121-109 record in 3 seasons and 2 playoff appearances, Jackson was surprisingly let go as head coach and made the trek back to ESPN.
The Warriors then replaced Jackson with another broadcaster-turned-coach in TNT’s Steve Kerr. And the results have been fantastic. Kerr’s GSW team sits at 17-2 with the best record in the NBA.
And in comments captured by the Oakland Tribune, Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob opened up about the differences between Jackson and Kerr, shining a light on why the franchise was more than willing to dismiss their winningest coach in some time for another television personality:
Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob praised coach Steve Kerr at a time when the team is off to its best start in franchise history and listed the reasons he fired Mark Jackson in a speaking appearance before venture capitalists in Menlo Park this week.
While crediting Jackson for changing the Warriors’ culture, Lacob said he didn’t think the team “could be great” without removing a coach he characterized as unwilling to hire better assistants and disliked by many in the organization.
“Right now, (Kerr) looks great,” Lacob said at the Western Association of Venture Capitalists/National Venture Capital Association luncheon Wednesday. “I think he will be great. And he did the one big thing that I wanted more than anything else from Mark Jackson he just wouldn’t do, in all honesty, which is hire the very best.
“Carte blanche. Take my wallet. Do whatever it is to get the best assistants there are in the world. Period. End of story. Don’t want to hear it. And (Jackson’s) answer . . . was, ‘Well, I have the best staff.’ No you don’t. And so with Steve, very, very different.”
But it wasn’t just Jackson’s management style and refusal to listen to directions from ownership that rubbed Warriors brass the wrong way. It was also that seemingly nobody throughout Golden State’s organization liked Jackson from the owner to the guys cleaning the locker room:
“Part of it was that he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization,” Lacob said. “And look, he did a great job, and I’ll always compliment him in many respects, but you can’t have 200 people in the organization not like you.”
Given Jackson’s success in Golden State, perhaps this is an underlying reason why he immediately went back to ESPN and reportedly asked for a multi-year contract.
And perhaps it’s best for everyone involved. Golden State has clearly never been better with Steve Kerr on the sidelines. And ESPN has restored what was one of the best three man booths in sports with Jackson reunited with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen.
It’ll be fascinating to see what happens if Jackson ends up announcing Kerr’s Warriors in the NBA Finals this year.