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 that the Warriors “simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”
“Thanks to the Warriors organization for the opportunity you gave me,” Jackson said in a statement sent to ESPN. “Thanks to the great fans for all of your support!! Thank you to my players!! Who I love!! We accomplished a lot together!! I wish you all nothing but the best! God bless.”
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Sunday that Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy would be at the top of Golden State’s search list if Jackson were fired. A league source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley that the Warriors have already contacted Kerr. The Warriors are also expected to speak with former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, league sources told ESPN.
Sources close to the situation say the New York Knicks remain the favorite to land Kerr, thanks to the TNT broadcaster’s close ties to new team president Phil Jackson. But Kerr also has strong relationships with Warriors owner Joe Lacob and team president Rick Welts, with whom he worked in Phoenix.
The San Jose Mercury News reported over the weekend that the Warriors have strong interest in Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, but sources say the Warriors — like the Minnesota Timberwolves — are pessimistic about being able to lure him away from his alma mater.
Jackson went 121-109 in three seasons with the Warriors, a stint that will be remembered for the way he helped turn a perennially losing franchise into a consistent winner and the bold, bombastic way in which he did it.
He guaranteed Golden State would make the playoffs in his first season, but the Warriors finished 23-43 after the NBA labor lockout. They 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.
“Obviously (the decision) was not made exclusively on wins and losses,” Lacob said.
Lacob compared the decision to replace Jackson to his work as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.
“There’s a different CEO that may be required to achieve success at different stages of an organization’s development,” Lacob said. “When you’re a startup company it’s one thing, when you’re a small-growth company it’s one thing and when you’re a mature company that’s trying to reach a billion in sales — or in this case win an NBA championship — perhaps that’s a different person. And we just felt overall we needed a different person.”
Now the Warriors — with the help of Jackson, Myers and an ownership group led by Lacob — are in position to contend for several years behind a strong young core led by point guard Stephen Curry.
“Over the last three years, coach Jackson has challenged me as a player and person,” Curry said in a statement. “His experience and guidance has helped each of us grow in this league… Can’t thank him enough for all he did for me. I wish him all the best as he transitions to the next chapter.”
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