OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have fired Mark Jackson, ending the franchise’s most successful coaching tenure in the past two decades but also one filled with drama and distractions.
General manager Bob Myers thanked Jackson in a statement Tuesday for “his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago.” Myers said it was a difficult decision but the Warriors “simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”
Jackson’s three seasons with the Warriors will be remembered for the way he helped turn a perennially losing franchise into a consistent winner and the bold and bombastic way in which he did it.
He guaranteed Golden State would make the playoffs in his first season, when they finished 23-36 after the NBA labor lockout. The Warriors went 47-35 last season and had a memorable run to the second round of the playoffs, and they were 51-31 this season before losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
The Warriors had not made the playoffs in consecutive years since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons. They had made the postseason once in 17 years before Jackson arrived.
Now the Warriors — with the help of Jackson, Myers and an ownership group led by Joe Lacob — are in position to contend for several years behind a strong young core led by Stephen Curry.
“Mark Jackson has had a big impact on the improvement of our team and the success that we’ve had over the last couple of years,” Lacob said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we must make some difficult decisions in our day-to-day operations of the club and this would certainly qualify as one of those examples. We wish Mark the best of luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions over the last three years.”
Jackson, a former NBA point guard who had his best seasons with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, had never been a head coach at any level when Lacob hired him away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. An ordained minister who runs a church with his wife near their Southern California home, Jackson often spoke of his Christian beliefs and promised to turn the Warriors into one of the NBA’s best defensive teams and a perennial playoff contender — and he did.
But Jackson’s boisterous personality, at times, did not play well with Warriors management, his staff and — to a much lesser extent — his players, most of whom said they wanted him to return, especially Curry. And his attitude, which bordered on confidence and cockiness, might’ve ultimately cost him his job.