When Mark Jackson was fired from his position as Golden State Warriors head coach, it was a foregone conclusion that he would get the band back together with former broadcast partners Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen at ESPN.  Breen, Jackson, and Van Gundy formed one of the best trios in the announcing business.  A successful three man booth in sports broadcasting with great chemistry and a balance between insight and entertainment is very difficult, yet ESPN’s top NBA crew consistently met the mark.

Indeed, Jackson rejoined ESPN for the Eastern Conference Finals and will also broadcast the NBA Finals with his old partners this summer.

But what is a very surprising development is that Jackson will be sticking around much longer.  ESPN announced they had signed Jackson to a “multi-year deal” to return to the broadcast booth.  The intriguing and perhaps surprising factor in that deal is according to Sports Illustrated, it was Jackson that asked for it:

Corrigan then followed up with Jackson in-person when ESPN aired the Clippers-Thunder series in Los Angeles, where Jackson has a home. Jackson decided last Tuesday that he wanted to come back to ESPN and the following day, Gross spoke with IMG agent Sandy Montag, who represents Jackson. But then Montag offered an interesting proposal: He told Gross that his client was interested in a deal beyond just rejoining his former partners for this year. Gross said ESPN management was excited by that prospect and a formal multi-year deal with Jackson was closed on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. (Like the Iron Bank, ESPN always has gold to add ex-coaches and players to its House Lannister on-air army.)

“We love Mark, we loved him when he was with us before, and we love him with Mike and Jeff, who were both eager to have him come back, said Gross, dropping love at the rate Chris Paul drops assists. “We just thought it was a great opportunity to bring the band back together. We have all the confidence in the world the chemistry will be the same as it was before.”

Gross said he thought Jackson would be a better analyst this time around given the currency he has with players and coaches in the league, having game-planned for them the last three years. As far as returning to the NBA, Gross said Jackson has not spoken about future coaching jobs, but the network will not prevent him from taking one.

“If he wants to go back to coaching, we will let him go back to coaching,” Gross said. “We are not going to hold him against something he really wants to do. If it is a coaching job he really wants, we will let him go back.”

Jackson’s fallout with the Golden State front office was well documented, but let’s not forget the success he had out west in the coaching carousel.  It’s not like recent Warriors franchise history is covered in glory without him.  Jackson had a 121-109 record and two consecutive playoff appearances and one would think he would have a good chance at landing another NBA job.  After all, let’s not forget that some of the best success stories in the NBA this year were teams coached by Terry Stotts and Randy Wittman!

Perhaps Jackson is merely seeking a year away from the sidelines to recharge the batteries before making the trip back to coaching.  However, it could very well be that the much less stressful life of an analyst is preferable for him for the foreseeable future.  Jackson’s partner Jeff Van Gundy has yet to return to coaching in spite of one rumor after another.  The same is true of Jon Gruden, who’s been linked to every NFL, college, and Pop Warner job opening in the last 3 years.

At least Steve Kerr knows that if this whole coaching thing doesn’t work out, he should have his spot at the announce table being kept warm for him.

[Sports Illustrated]

Comments are closed.