Fans Blast Warriors’ Firing of Mark Jackson, and the Pundits Explain It

Golden State Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson, fired Tuesday, pictured during the Warriors' season-ending playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, fired Tuesday, pictured during the Warriors’ season-ending playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Update, 2:45 p.m. Tuesday: Well, the first returns are in. The Golden State Warriors’ decision to fire head coach Mark Jackson is wildly unpopular with fans, or at least among those active in social media.

An SFGate poll — totally unscientific but full of popular sentiment — asks, “Do you think Mark Jackson should have been fired?” Results so far: Yes, 20 percent; No, 80 percent. And yeah, Twitter is nearly unanimous on the question: What a stupid move by the Warriors’ front office.

Why did management get rid of Jackson after a highly successful three-year tenure? Here’s what the pundits say:

Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle: Golden State fires Mark Jackson

Jackson, who had one season left on his contract, turned around the franchise’s losing ways, but he also turned off many in management during the process.

For every player who has publicly backed Jackson, there is someone among the Warriors’ brass who has beefed with the coach during his three seasons with Golden State. …

… There were two shady situations within the coaching staff this season, one leading to the demotion of assistant Brian Scalabrine and the other leading to the firing of assistant Darren Erman. The Warriors’ management is high on both of the assistants and wanted Jackson to hire an experienced X’s-and-O’s guy going forward.

Jackson refused, much like he did when most anyone made suggestions that were against his way of thinking. The coach wouldn’t move fulltime to the Bay Area, instead basing his family out of Southern California – where he and his wife lead a non-denominational church. …

Monte Poole, CSN Bay Area: Five factors in decision to fire Mark Jackson

Among the reason’s Poole cites: Jackson’s coaching methods came under scrutiny by many, including [Warriors owner Joe] Lacob, who considers himself a student of the game. Fans sitting near the CEO at Warriors games have overheard him expressing his disapproval of some of Jackson’s strategies. Was this a case of an owner getting too involved? Or was it an owner who is convinced another coach could coax more from the current roster?

Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area: Lacob’s warning to future Warriors coach: It’s personal

Joe Lacob wins, as we all knew he would. The only surprise is that he was in this much of a hurry to, in the apocryphal words of King Henry II toward Thomas Becket, “rid himself of this turbulent priest.”

That is the only religious reference we will make to Tuesday’s summary dismissal of head coach Mark Jackson, even though it may have been an ancillary reason why Jackson was fired. A matter of “focus,” we will be told.

And we follow it with the only words of praise we will have for the idea of Jackson being canned, namely:

At least Lacob didn’t make the mistake of lingering over a decision he’d made awhile ago. He stopped liking Jackson, and he didn’t wait around to sample the electorate, he wanted him gone, and he was — swiftly, and with blood.

But Jackson’s firing is very much Lacob at his most Steinbrennarian — putting himself and his perception of the Warriors in their present state before all other considerations. It is personality-driven, because it cannot be performance-driven unless you believe the Warriors should have won 58 games instead of 51, and should have beaten the Los Angeles Clippers without their starting center.

Nobody else believes that, and if Lacob does, or he feels Jackson does more harm to the franchise by staying, he has given in to his own hubris. And owners with hubris almost always find themselves hoisted on their own petard.

Marcus Thompson II, Bay Area News Group: Jackson, Lacob personality clash was too much for Warriors

It’s done. Mark Jackson has been fired.

The Warriors know they are going to take a public relations hit. They knew the nuance of their decision would be lost on most people, especially those outside of their fan base. They knew the face of their franchise would be unhappy. They knew they may have to take a step back to move forward. But they fired Mark Jackson anyway.

That’s how convinced they were they had to move on. Time will tell if it is a mistake or not. Certainly, they had better nail the next coach or this will go down as the day Joe Lacob will never live down. But, as gleaned from multiple sources, this was a move they felt that they had to make. Reconciliation wasn’t possible. And the decision largely came down to off-the-court issues.

Jackson’s take on the whole affair?

A couple hours before the Warriors announced his firing, he tweeted:

And as the online reaction has built up steam this afternoon, he followed with a couple more messages addressed to his players and fans:

Below is the team’s statement, which takes pains to note the Warriors’ three highly successful years under Jackson’s leadership. That raises the question: Exactly why is the team making this move? We’ll try to have more reaction on that later.

Here’s the statement:

The Golden State Warriors have relieved Head Coach Mark Jackson of his duties, the team announced today. Jackson, who recently completed his third season as head coach of the team, guided the Warriors to a 51-31 record this season and a combined 121-109 record (.526) during his tenure in the Bay Area. Jackson was named the 24th head coach in the team’s West Coast history on June 6, 2011.

“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers. “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”

“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,” said Owner & CEO Joe Lacob. “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, 49, became just the third head coach in franchise history to lead a team to at least 50 wins in a season, joining Don Nelson and Alvin Attles, who both posted 50-win seasons twice with the Warriors. With 121 regular-season victories overall, Jackson ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time wins list, trailing Attles (557), Nelson (422) and Eddie Gottlieb (263). Additionally, the 98 regular-season wins posted over the last two seasons (51 in 2013-14 & 47 in 2012-13) represent the Warriors best two-year stretch since the team posted 99 victories combined in the 1990-91 (44) and 1991-92 (55) seasons, which was also the last time Golden State made consecutive postseason appearances.

  • seth

    “Exactly why is the team making this move?” its well known that Jackson clashed with ownership.

  • Matthias B. Krause

    Jackson might be a decent coach but he is a bad manager. And not even be willing to move to the Bay Area shows how non-committed he was to the team. A more or less openly anti-gay coach also doesn’t really work well for a team in the Bay Area of all places. I am glad he is gone and I don’t think the management’s decision is hard to understand at all.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor