Storyline: Mark Jackson-Warriors Relationship

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“After I heard all of what he was talking about, I understand where he’s coming from – that being for the youth of today and how they watch us play or watch me in particular, and they want to go out and try to do the same thing,” Curry said Saturday. “It’s all about practice and routine and repetition that can help you get to that point, so you can’t skip that part of the process. “I wish he would have phrased it just a little bit differently. I think I’m trying to inspire people to see the game differently in a positive way…I get what he was saying. There was a compliment in there. Knowing him personally, I think that’s what he meant.”

Reggie Miller: Did you guys even listen @Mark Jackson words on @Stephen Curry? He said he’s hurting game basically because he’s so good and a COMPLETE PLAYER, that all we see is him making those ridiculous 3-pt shots that’s all kids see him as. NOO, there’s a lot more to the MVP’s game then 3-pt shots. People need to know how hard @Stephen Curry has put into his all around game.. Please watch the clip of what he said.. And not go by headline of Mark saying he’s hurting the game. Mark has zero beef or issue with @Stephen Curry.. He’s giving him props..

Jackson’s full rant, which came during the middle of an entertaining Warriors-Cavaliers game on Christmas Day: “I’ve thought about this one. Steph Curry’s great. Steph Curry’s the MVP. He’s a champion. Understand what I’m saying when I say this. To a degree, he’s hurt the game. And what I mean by that is, I go into high school gyms, I watch these kids, and the first thing they do is run to the 3-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on the other aspects of the game. People think that he’s just a knock-down shooter. That’s not why he’s the MVP. He’s a complete basketball player.”

When you were coaching Steph Curry, did you ever see him becoming what he is now? Did you think he could become the most feared player in the NBA? Mark Jackson: I saw him being a superstar, I saw him being a great basketball player. He had a passion for the game and a tremendous work ethic. He needed someone to put the ball in his hands and believe in him, and most importantly, be healthy. He has all those things, and he has skyrocketed. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He’s a great ambassador for the game. This is all Steph Curry, he deserves this.

The Warriors won the NBA championship under Steve Kerr the season after Jackson’s firing. It was Jackson who turned things around after a 23-win season his first year. “I took over a job in Golden State with a bad culture, guys that said they wanted to win, but didn’t want to win,” Jackson said. Now the Warriors are 23-0, and Jackson offered high praise of the current team. “They’re a great basketball team, and you’re not going to be ‘em putting together 12 minutes of quality basketball,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to play 48 minutes, be disciplined and pay attention to detail to have a legitimate chance. And even when you do that, they still can beat you. They’re that good.”

Malone also will seek out Warriors general manager Bob Myers, who has widely supported the coach. Malone also said owner Joe Lacob and former GM Larry Riley deserve a lot of credit for creating a championship roster. Actually, Malone tried to credit just about everyone but himself. “The credit goes to the players,” Malone said. “I give Mark Jackson a ton of credit, and then obviously, I give a ton of credit to Coach (Steve) Kerr. I have so much respect for him, because so many coaches would have come into that situation and tried to change everything and taken the credit for everything. He showed so much character in giving Mark Jackson and the previous coaching staff so much credit.

Ex-Warriors coach Mark Jackson picked James Harden for Most Valuable Player, and hours before his old team potentially wins the NBA title in Game 6, he supported LeBron James for Finals MVP. An ESPN broadcaster calling the game for ABC, Jackson indicated on Mike & Mike on Tuesday that the Cleveland Cavaliers star would be his MVP pick even if Warriors won the championship. “He is the MVP of this series thus far,” Jackson said. “There’s no question about it. When you take a look at what he’s doing, this Warrior team is a superior team. They have great depth, 67 wins, talent and versatility to throw at you. To have a chance to win, LeBron James has got to be spectacular, and he’s been that. Up until last game, Andre Iguodala would have been the MVP for the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry exploded, and he’s in the discussion right now for Warriors MVP. But there’s no question in my mind, the MVP of these Finals has been LeBron James, and he would get my vote.”

Mark, you seemed to get a little emotional the other night during the trophy ceremony when the Warriors clinched. What has it been like doing their games this year? Have you ever thought, ‘What if I had stayed?’ Mark Jackson: No. To me, people blew out the emotional — a guy came over and said thank you. If you came to my church, you would say, ‘Well, he cries every week.’ People say thank you. People show appreciation. I’m an emotional guy. That was all it was. One guy saying thank you and me appreciating his thoughts and his feelings. Other than that, there’s no emotion. To me, I’m calling games between two teams, just like The Finals. I read articles that I shouldn’t be doing it. To me, it was laughable. I’m absolutely winning and having the time of my life calling games with incredible friends and incredible people and working for an incredible organisation. So it’s been a blast for me. I’m excited about having the opportunity to be part of an incredible group to call a spectacular Finals.

Asked if he had the opportunity to explain to Stephen Curry his pick of James Harden as the MVP, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Thursday he wasn’t going there. “What I will say is there are people that will attempt to create nonsense and create friction,” Jackson told the Dan LeBatard Show. “From my end, that’ll never take place. I’m forever grateful for how he conducted himself as a player of mine. I’m forever grateful for who he is as an individual and the accomplishments that he’s had. And there will never be no issues between him and I as far as I’m concerned. I wish him nothing but the very best, and I’m going to love him.”

And Kerr has allowed the Warriors leaders to keep remnants of Jackson’s tenure, including the “Just us!” chant at the end of every team huddle and the poster that remains in the locker room: “mUSt be jUSt about US”. Jackson, of course, never would’ve allowed a slogan from a previous administration in his locker room. But when Curry and others asked Kerr to keep some of these Jackson traces, Kerr quickly agreed. “I guess it would’ve been weird if he didn’t (let the players keep some traditions),” Curry said, “because there’s no denying the foundation we built the last couple years under Mark and culture change that he was responsible for.

When Jason Collins publicly announced his homosexuality in April 2013, Jackson told reporters, “I know Jason Collins; I know his family and am certainly praying for them.” This seemed particularly tone-deaf considering that Golden State COO Rick Welts, the first high-ranking sports executive to come out, worked in the same building. Welts says he approached Jackson and had “a nice conversation, like grown‑ups,” adding, “He knew how I felt, I knew how he felt. I’m sure he thought it was an opportunity to educate me, and I thought it was an opportunity to educate him.”

Other times, Kerr’s moves are diplomatic. From day one, he has made a point of consistently praising Mark Jackson, which built good will with his players. Similarly, he downplays his impact on the team at every turn. “In the end both Pop and Phil taught me the players are the ones that do all the work,” says Kerr. “You just want to guide the team in the right direction to play the way that they’re best going to utilize their talent and skills.” In pro sports, this mindset is unusual. “Usually winning breeds arrogance but he’s a rare guy,” says Van Gundy, who makes a point to also praise Mark Jackson’s work as Warriors coach. “I think Kerr’s fully aware that he’s done an outstanding job. You don’t play as long as he did without great pride and ego. But the way that Steve has handled himself, forget the coaching. What I have such great respect for is his humility with this success. Very, very few people I’ve known in coaching would have this humility with this success.”

Meanwhile, the Warriors evolved as a team, due in part to Jackson’s influence. He emphasized individual skill development, mandating that every player put in at least 15 minutes of extra work with an assistant coach. A pastor at a non-denominational church in Reseda, Ca, Jackson had an uncanny knack for fostering an us-against-them mentality. To this day, the Warriors still exit each huddle yelling “Just Us!”, a unifying chant that began in the Jackson era. Upon his hiring, Jackson had immediately – and foolishly – promised that the team would make the playoffs in his first season. The Warriors didn’t, and wouldn’t for two more years, but Jackson’s formidable public confidence and oratorical skill – which, says one team source, is what got him the job over then-Spurs-assistant Mike Budenholzer, because, “Of course Mark’s going to win the interview” – buoyed the players’ confidence.
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