There’s a reason why coaches and aspiring coaches love television. The power of TV is undeniable. It’s an easy way to give opinions and look smart without suffering losses. The high-profile nature of those jobs keeps you close to the sport, in the public eye, and on the radar of owners.
Coaches such as Sean Payton, Stan Van Gundy, Herm Edwards, Steve Kerr, Aaron Boone, and countless others have benefited from exposure as TV analysts. It’s unlikely that Jeff Saturday would have been named interim coach for the Indianapolis Colts if he hadn’t been on ESPN.
TV helped Mark Jackson get his first head coaching job as he ran the Golden State Warriors (2011-14). TV could play a role again. On Sunday, Shams Charania reported that Jackson will interview for the Milwaukee Bucks opening. That’s a surprise on many levels, especially after Jackson’s MVP-voting fiasco.
Last week, Jackson admitted that he neglected to put the Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić on his top-five ballot. He called the omission a ‘mistake’ and apologized to Jokić. Jackson was the lone voter out of 100 who made that error. It’s a blunder that could affect his chances of coaching again. At least Jackson had Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo second on his ballot.
Charles Barkley a few days ago on the MVP voter who left Jokic off their ballot:— Bettor Sports Network (@bettornetwork) May 11, 2023
“People like that shouldn’t get a vote…He’s a damn idiot.”
It was just announced that the voter in question is Mark Jackson?#NBA #MVP #jokic #NBATwitter pic.twitter.com/4SlGs68A4l
Mistakes happen. We all make them. However, not all of us want to be NBA coaches. Jackson’s creditability took a hit last week. Both owners and players must be wondering how this lapse could have happened.
It’s one thing to fail to account for a fringe MVP candidate. It’s quite another to leave out one of the top vote-getters, especially in a season when there has been so much discussion about who is the league’s top player. This isn’t just about bragging rights. This is about dollars. There are financial ramifications.
Contract bonuses are tied to NBA awards and honors. Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant wasn’t named to the All-NBA teams, which cost him $39 million. Imagine a hypothetical where a player misses out on significant cash due to voter error.
ESPN —a partner with the NBA—can’t be happy with Jackson. And some players and owners might be privately stewing about this too.
Jackson’s reputation as coach was already suspect. In a vacuum, he seems worthy of a second shot. He had a .526 winning percentage with the Warriors and led the previously listless franchise to back-to-back playoff appearances.
In 2013, when he called then-youngster Steph Curry and Klay Thompson the “greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game” that seemed like hyperbole. Some scoffed. Turns out that he was 100 percent correct. He saw the future. However, he couldn’t foresee his own ending.
Jackson was fired after the 2013-14 season. The exact reasons are a subject of debate to this day. There’s the narrative that Jackson was holding back the Warriors. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that’s true. Kerr won the NBA championship in his rookie season and helped usher in an era of Golden State dominance. He made moves such as increasing the pace of play, taking more 3-point shots, and inserting Draymond Green into the starting lineup.
There’s also the narrative that Jackson’s demeanor led to his ouster. There were reports that he presided over a dysfunctional environment with his staff. The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo brought up a theory, saying on his podcast: “Jackson is a man of faith. I don’t question anyone’s faith. But I know it rubbed some people the wrong way when he was a head coach.”
Finally, there has to be questions about the length of time Jackson has spent on the sidelines watching and calling games for ESPN. It’s almost been a full decade since he coached. In that time period, the NBA has drastically changed as scoring has seen a meteoric rise. If he wasn’t quite up to speed with the pace of play needed for the Warriors to succeed in the early 2010’s, how far left behind would he be in today’s game?
Made an honest mistake with my MVP votes. My apologies to the Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic. He’s not only a legitimate MVP candidate who deserved my vote, but he is truly one of the all time greats!— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) May 11, 2023
Again my apologies
Whether it was on-the-court or off-the-court issues, Jackson is still waiting for his next coaching gig. He interviewed with the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings last spring. Now, he will take a shot with the Bucks.
If Jackson is desperate to return, he can’t afford to make mistakes. Especially like the one he made last week.