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 playoffs once in 17 years before Jackson.
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.
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 away from the court, 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.