Take Down: Why Mark Jackson Was Fired
The Reason Behind the Reasons Mark Jackson Was Fired
The firing of Mark Jackson created more news than the firing of a coach usually does. By nature coaching positions are temporary. Only a handful of NBA coaches have spent their careers with one team, Stockton, Auerbach and Popovich come to mind. All had winning teams and were or are consensus Hall of Fame coaches. But even the great Nellie, Don Nelson, moved from Milwaukee to Golden State and then around the horn.
There are more reasons to fire a coach than to hire one. With Mark Jackson there were plenty of reasons to keep him and plenty of reasons to let him pass. His relationship with some of the players (we still have not heard from Bogut or Blake) was supposedly a strength. His weaknesses, well, that depends on your perspective but clearly it might be summed up as his relationships with everyone else and the lack of a coherent offensive plan with perhaps the best offensive team in the league. Clearly those that are religious and those that are black have a different take on his limitations and feel he was fired for reasons of prejudice against either religion, race or both. Many black writers have implied that Jackson’s firing was in part based on race. ESPN has unsubtlely basically inferred this endless numbers of times. On the Warriors many fan forums Born Again Christians, blacks and the racially sensitive see prejudice, an inability for the owners to relate to the black culture and just plain, old-fashioned white privilege. Born Again Christians who are masters at casting themselves as victims have also claimed it was his prayer sessions with players, chapel with players, taking time off from his coaching to preach at his church (which Reverend Jackson called his real job, calling his coaching job a part-time position), spending religious services with some of his players, and finally the recording of church oriented videos at his office with the Golden State Warriors that got him fired. The videos were posted on the internet and then rapidly disappeared. If there was nothing wrong with recording religious videos at your place of work why take them down? When Jackson was working for pay for the team he took time off to make videos at his place of work which reflected his religious beliefs for people totally unconnected to basketball. This could be seen as reason enough in itself to fire him. Of course his backhanded homophobic remarks which are now mainstream and accepted as a legitimate response to a person “coming out” in Born Again circles are not mainstream in the liberal, tolerant Bay Area. The inference that he would pray for the souls of the sinners is insulting to some and disrespectful to nature. For it is nature that decides sexuality and homosexual behavior is prevalent in many species. It is utter unscientific non-sense that being gay is a life style that one prefers or one does not prefer.
At ESPN the race card is clearly being played by the “I just have no idea why Mark Jackson was fired.” group think that is the party line on that network. That must have been said a thousand times in one week with the tacit implication that he was fired because he was black.
Stephen A. Smith “wonders” why Kerr is the “golden boy”, a strange metaphor, at the current time when the hunt for a new coach is on by a plethora of dissatisfied owners. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith clearly implies that because Kerr is white he is getting more interviews than “he deserves”. Of course if Phil Jackson wanted a black coach of merit and all of a sudden interested piqued that would be fine. Clearly Kerr has received the “Phil“ bump. It is not complicated. It is not racist. Phil Jackson carries a lot of weight in the NBA plain and simple.
Many of the Bay Area Writers were smitten by Mark Jackson. Jackson was connected to the ESPN establishment, the Holy Grail, of sports media. His personality of convincing the unwary that they were on his side against the owners won over many of the writers who had been at war with Don Nelson for years. A coach that uttered “We are a defense first team.” Thus tacitly confirming what the writers fumed about for years, that is that Don Nelson could not coach defense, rather than the alternative view he got the best out of what he had. By saying we are a defense first team, Jackson implied and confirmed what the writers wanted. They were now his because he told them what they wanted to hear. If he had said, anyone who can win 26 games with Monta Ellis and Steve Curry as a rookie with 5 d-leaguers is a helluva coach the writers would have choked on their wine.
When Jackson was fired writers at the Chronicle and other papers were as stunned as if Mickey Mantle were traded by the Yankees. Or if Joe Montana was sent packing in his prime.
Mark Jackson proceeded to go on tour selling himself. He is a victim, he did a great job. The players loved him. The fans loved him. Stephen A. Smith loved him. His congregation loves him, O’Neal loves him, Green has improved his “relationship” with God through Mark Jackson. Why is that an endorsement for a coach? Curry loves him. Jackson does not use the Bible as a weapon, he said so at a press conference. Who accused him of using the Bible as a weapon? That statement is a perfect example of how Jackson divides people. Upon hearing that statement religious people think that the “liberals” have accused yet another poor innocent Christian of some outrageous crime. But not everyone buys this.
Bogut does not appear to love him, Greg Papa, the best play by-play NBA announcer alive, thinks Mark Jackson can’t coach and has said so for three long years. Interesting. Papa has seen nearly every Warrior game for decades? What does he see that others don’t?
Jackson’s latest salvo that he, Mark Jackson, will deserve the credit if Coach Kerr produces a winning team fits right in to his entire MO. If Kerr fails Jackson looks good, if he succeeds it is because of Jackson’s coaching which laid the foundation for the team’s success. Nicely done.
Bogut according to First Take’s Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, Jackson’s most vocal supporters, is Bogus. He didn’t show up, he does not show up. (Conveniently forgetting last years playoffs when playing injured he clearly was the difference maker with Lee out) otherwise Jackson would have done better we presume? But Jackson already exceeded expectations and actually was ahead with a few minutes left in game seven with the Clippers? The Clippers who have two of the best players in the world, two of the top ten players in the entire world, and a hall of fame coach? And his crappy team without “Bogus” nearly beat them. Why? Because Mark Jackson is a natural born leader, just ask him. Jackson has actually said: “I am a natural born leader, people gravitate towards me.” Sounds more like a cult figure than a leader to me.
As the Warriors pondered hiring Fred Hoiberg I read a few articles about him. His co-workers described him as a natural born leader. Do you find this an interesting contrast to Jackson who describes himself as a born leader?
Jackson took this inferior team the owners thrust upon him and then won over fifty games and nearly beat the Clippers. A great achievement, just ask him. He deserves all the credit because his guys played their hearts out. His guys. For him. If the owners had given him a decent bench…. He also changed the culture. Ask ESPN, ask him. Nellie’s teams could not play defense. That is the tacit insult lurking behind the “changed the culture” nonsense. Sure Nelson’s teams could score. Monta Ellis and the rookie Steve Curry along with five d-league players put up big numbers on offense (second in the league) and won 26 games with two NBA players who could play for any team in the league, one of whom was a rookie, and five other players who would fight to make the roster, any roster in the league. Most of the year the bench didn’t have nearly enough healthy bodies to play a decent NBA game. Yet incredibly the fawning Bay Area Media somehow never asked Mark Jackson why it took 4 years for Steve Curry to return to his rookie year form. In 2009 -10 Curry had perennial all-star written all over him. But Nelson’s teams could not play defense. It was not the lack of NBA quality players, but the “culture”. Anyone can claim to be a defensive coach by slowing the pace of the game. Mike Fratello made himself a millionaire by grinding the game to a halt and then claiming he was a great defensive coach. Really are people that unobservant? Jackson had Bogut. Nelson had nothing. Give Nellie Bogut and then you will see defense and offense that will be dazzling entertainment and great basketball. Nellie would make use of all of Bogut’s skills. Maybe the reason Jackson’s defensive numbers are good is because his offensive numbers are bad? If the team plays a little more up tempo and scores 15 more points a game, the opposition will score proportionally more with the same defense. The result will be more wins but a “poorer” defense. More possessions increases the score. This is something writers and ESPN analysts seem to have a hard time grasping. Maybe the public schools are that bad.
With Bogut Jackson’s inferior team would be expected to beat the Clippers and quite easily according to his logic, right? No dunks for Jordan, no domination of the post by Blake. But Jackson has said this vastly inferior team should still lose to the Clippers because: “The Clippers have two of the best players in the world, two of the top ten, and a hall of fame coach.” Incidentally when the Clippers lost Doc Rivers rolled out the same excuse as Mark Jackson. The ESPN cast has a script and they stick to it. Rivers is part of the gang.
That is pretty strange. A hall of fame coach that was hired because Chris Paul insisted Vinny Del Negro be fired. With the edition of J.J. Redick, another year of experience for Blake, and a vastly more mature front court, the Clippers won a grand total of one more game than last year. So exactly why is Rivers a Hall of Fame Coach? Because he won in Boston with three Hall of Fame players and all-star point guard? Or because he was an ESPN broadcaster and is part of the fraternity? Pretty good line up to work with, how did he do when he had less talent? How did he do with the Clippers this year? Speaking of race what if the colors were reversed and Del Negro had been black and Rivers white? Stephen A. Smith would be screaming racism on every broadcast. He would be castigating the Clippers and the league for firing a good black coach and hiring a white coach who only won one more game with a far better team. You know that’s true if you follow ESPN.
What do we learn from this about coaching? What did Warriors fans learn about coaching from watching good people try to coach really bad teams? Cohen never spent the money you need to spend in the NBA to win games. That is not complicated, so all of his coaches were doomed to mediocrity.
Except one. Nellie, Don Nelson, took an aging Baron Davis, a great team player in Jason Richardson, and a couple of other good players to the second round of the playoffs in one of the most thrilling couple months of basketball in Warrior history. Had a few free throws fallen in Utah they would have made the West finals. He beat the Mavericks who were the first seed with the NBA’s best record. First time that an eight beat a one in the seven game playoff era. Not too bad. Dallas had a hall of fame, MVP power forward, a good point guard and played very hard. They had Nellie’s protege as the coach. The next year despite trading the second best player, Jason Richardson, for nothing, (a trade exemption that was not used and an unproductive rookie) Nellie’s team improved. How could that happen? Imagine how far they would have gone if they had kept JR or traded him for Gasol? Did Nellie change the culture? The personal got worse, noticeably so, and the team got better? But it was Mark Jackson years later who changed the culture.
Don Nelson never held a press conference and talked about how God had his hand on “his” team? More likely Nellie’s god was pushing a beer across the table. When he was fired by the new ownership (just one more reason to fire a coach) he took his hat, pocketed the money owed him, and went off into the sunset of Maui.
But when Mark Jackson was gracefully fired he went on tour trashing the entire organization. The same organization that did not say he was a bad coach, and the team deserved a better coach. The same organization who said “mea culpa”. The owners gracefully said the problem was in relationships not performance. They let people more or less conclude his homophobic remarks set him at odds with the tolerant liberals of the Bay Area and that he could not get along with the owner’s son or the gay executives or the strait executives of the Warriors for that matter. Looks lots better or your resume that saying that he was incompetent, divisive, and impossible to work with. In short Jackson was not a team player, not a guy the organization could work with. He banned Jerry West and Jim Barnett from his practices, you’d think he’d pay them to watch and advise. Wouldn’t you?
The same organization that gave him a great team, an opportunity to coach and lots of money is now being throughly trashed by Mark Jackson and his allies in the media. One of the Bay Area Sports writers actually said it will now be hard for the Warriors to hire a head coach because of the way they “treated” Mark Jackson. Mark Jackson aka victim. Does that writer still have a job now that Kerr has stated he preferred the Warrior’s organization to the Knicks?
That is why Mark Jackson should never have been hired. His history shows he causes discord in organizations. His run in with John Stockton and the Jazz management is well documented. He divided the locker room into those on his side and those on the other side. Sound familiar?
He put up lots of numbers as an NBA player. But he played for many different teams? Jackson and people like him can be very difficult employees, bad employers and just plain ineffective managers when they are in a position of power and authority.
Mark Jackson has an Authoritarian Personality. That is the simple explanation for his behavior and that of his followers aka supporters. And that is why he can’t be a team player and why any organization will have difficulty when he needs to work with, not above or below, but along side another person.
(Do you have an Authoritarian Personality? Take this test and find out. http://www.anesi.com/fscale.htm)
A certain amount of people do in all cultures.
That is why Jackson is perceived as a vindictive person by some who used his conversion to Christianity to create relationships that give him wealth and power over other people. Others who “fall into line” see him as an authority and leader because that is how they relate to people. Their relationships are either “follower” or “leader” relationships in all walks of life, Jackson fits that mold perfectly. He “acts” like they think a leader should act.
Notice he has difficultly with relationships of equals. There is a hierarchy in his relationships that is somewhat inappropriate or may be perceived as such by some “non-authoritarian” people. He sets up his team relationships as son-father, not player-coach, spiritual mentor not basketball coach or instructor-pupil relationships. He can’t relate to coworkers who have substantial but limited authority over part of the preparation (assistant coaches) who are not interested in relating to him in an authoritarian fashion so he just refuses to even consider those relationships because he cannot handle them. So he fires any and all assistants who threaten him in some imaginary way. Then he has his allies, Stephen A.Smith, denigrate them on national TV. Doesn’t it surprise you that Stephen A. Smith has spent so much time laying waste Bogut, Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman? When has a national media figure spent so much time denigrating assistant coaches? How is it that so much air time with the Warriors has been devoted to Jackson’s relationships or lack thereof with his assistant coaches? Notice that Jackson said they were disrespectful (i.e. dared to challenge his place in his hierarchy) and disloyal? There was no mention of the quality of their work because to Jackson maintaining his power was far more important than improving the team.
Because his first goal is to maintain his power, Jackson’s secondary goals have to do with the Warriors organization. Further he can’t relate to his boss or his bosses circle of advisors and work to build a consensus or an agreement. His bosses all have power that he craves and are therefore the enemy or the opposition. He sees them as the competition not as the team leaders. He spends his time trying to divide the organization into his supporters and the opposition so he can gradually increase his power base.
The bottom line is Mark Jackson is a very strange man with a personality disorder. Why would you want him to be in charge of a billion dollar business?
The key to understanding Jackson’s dysfunctional effect on organizations is to see the obvious. Look at his relationships with co-workers. They don’t work. Look at his relationship with “his” players. They don’t improve their skills, they play inspired basketball at times. Great for Green who had impeccable coaching in college. But how about Bazemore and Barnes who very much-needed to understand the game to improve their many natural skills. They got worse under Jackson not better. Bazemore should have grown into a fine bench player and Barnes should be a rising star. Hopefully his confidence has not been shattered to the point where he will not reach his full potential. But the handling of Barne’s growth was in and of itself reason enough to fire Jackson. Now the Warrior forums are filled with Jackson supporters who are blaming Barnes for not improving and calling for him to be traded. Trading him now while his value has been crushed by bad coaching is a very bad way to run an organization. Trading Green who is at the zenith of his value is a much better option if one has to be moved to get Kevin Love.
Jackson will always have followers. Preaching is perfect for his personality type, he can speak with the Authority of God and who is going to dare argue? But is he the kind of guy you want to build an organization of people determined to work together to achieve a common goal?
No. Because his goal of consolidating and maintaining his power base will always be more important to him that the goal of the group. That is why he was fired. The owners may have not analyzed the situation exactly this way, but, intuitively they knew he just did not fit, they knew why and they knew what to do about it.