There are so many layers and pivot points in the Mark Jackson story that one hardly knows where to look next. This was a clash of personalities and egos first and foremost. It was not about results because the Warriors record over the past two years has been nothing worthy of embarrassment or rash decisions. It’s been the team’s best two years in a quarter century.
Instead this was an off the court decision. Everything about Jackson was under scrutiny, which includes his very public persona as a religious man. It was probably not at the top of the list, but was probably on the list. I don’t know if Jackson’s strong, strong religious beliefs alienated anyone in the building. I’ve heard that the team wasn’t happy that he made it a priority to get back to his LA-based church to preach as often as possible. I’ve heard that he occasionally referred to individuals he didn’t like as “the devil.” And I found it weird to be sitting in a press conference next to a young woman who kept trying to get Jackson’s attention by calling him “pastor.”
But I’ve often wondered how comfortable it was for Jackson and team president Rick Welts to co-exist in the same organization. Welts is openly gay, becoming the first high-ranking executive in professional sports to come out back in 2011. He’s a strong, professional leader who is excellent at his job. Jackson is a fundamental Christian, who embraces what some call “traditional values”. And he wasn’t shy about letting people know his views.
When Jason Collins made his historic pronouncement last year that he was gay, Jackson’s immediate response came out sounding less-than-supportive.
“I will say this,” Jackson said the day of the news. “We live in a country that allows you to be whoever you want to be. As a Christian man, I serve a God that gives you free will to be who you want to be. As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong. That being said, I know Jason Collins, I know his family, and am certainly praying for them at this time.”
SOURCE: Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle