The Golden State Warriors have fired head coach Mark Jackson, according to multiple reports. This comes despite Jackson guiding the Warriors to back-to-back playoff appearances and the team's two best records since 1994.
Jackson leaves after compiling a 121-109 record in three seasons on the job. The Warriors advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2013 after upsetting the Nuggets and were one game away from pulling off the same feat this season despite not having center Andrew Bogut due to injury. Players were universally supportive of him throughout the process.
Looking to the Future
Looking to the Future
But turmoil surrounded Jackson outside of the locker room. Two assistant coaches were fired or reassigned during the season. First-year assistant Brian Scalabrine was sent to the team's D-League affiliate after questioning Jackson's approach, while defensive specialist Darren Erman was let go after he secretly recorded conversations between Jackson and other coaches, believing they were conspiring to undermine him.
Jackson's relationship with owner Joe Lacob has also been frosty dating back to 2012, when Jackson was involved in an extortion case with a stripper he had been seeing years ago. Last summer, Lacob green-lighted a major deal to land free agent Andre Iguodala and believed the Warriors were a title contender. In a February interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Lacob said Jackson should be feeling pressure given the Warriors' struggles, especially at home. Jackson has often responded by playing up the team's supposed lack of talent, suggesting the Warriors must overcome doubters to succeed. Jackson also reportedly has "zero relationship" with Joe Lacob's son Kirk, the team's assistant GM, following a verbal altercation.
There were also questions about Jackson's coaching style. Some believe he overemphasized isolations instead of giving Stephen Curry even more shots. Others questioned his rotation decisions; Jackson would often play five bench players together despite their struggles rather than mixing and matching his starters.
But his players staunchly supported him throughout his tenure. Curry in particular is close with Jackson and wondered why his job might be in jeopardy. From the San Jose Mercury News:
"I love Coach more than anybody, and I think for him to be in a situation where his job is under scrutiny and under question is totally unfair," Curry said. "And it would definitely be a shock to me if anything like that were to happen.
"I'm going to voice my support for Coach."
It's also hard to argue with results. The Warriors had only won more than 42 games once since 1994, but won 47 in 2012-13 and 51 this season. With Iguodala and Bogut in tow, Jackson molded the league's third-best defense this season. He outcoached George Karl in 2013 and fared admirably with a shorthanded roster against Doc Rivers this season.
Warriors mess up
Nevertheless, his personality conflicts with management became too much to overcome. The next coach will preside over a team with a stable core that expects to be a championship contender.