The Warriors sure are making things interesting this offseason. First, new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber hired Jerry West and Bob Myers to man the front office. And yesterday, the Warriors hired current ESPN analyst Mark Jackson as head coach. The Warriors typically wait till the NBA draft to shock their fans and leave them scratching their heads.
The Warriors and Jackson agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract yesterday evening. Now, detractors will point to the fact that Jackson has no coaching experience, and for a team that has only made the playoffs once since 1994, that might not be such a smart move. I mean seriously what’s he going to say in his pregame speech: remember guys, great offense beats great defense? Or during an in-game huddle: what did I tell you Monta, hand down, man down?
All jokes aside, I actually think hiring Jackson is a step in the right direction for a young team that is looking for some guidance. Jackson was a great leader both on and off the court in each of his 17 seasons as a player. Moreover, he was a winner- he consistently led both the Knicks and Pacers deep into the playoffs. And trust me, there is nothing that young players such as Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, David Lee, and Andris Biedrins respect more than a winner.
Jackson’s leadership ability and strong personality will go a long way in easing relations between star players Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. When he tells them to share the ball, play defense, and look for the open teammate, they will actually listen to him and won’t view him as a pushover. This, I believe, will pay dividends for the team, as a whole. If recent history proves any indication (’03-’04 Lakers), a tense locker room can lead to poor performances on-the-court. Now, I’m not saying this is going to make the Warriors instant title contenders, but it does give the Warriors a chance to grab a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Next, Jackson brings youthful energy and exuberance to a team that is still trying to escape Don Nelson’s chokehold. Don Nelson with his favoritism and stubbornness drove the Warriors further into the ground. Keith Smart, for all his good qualities, was not a long-term solution. Sure, he led the Warriors to 10 more wins this season, but the fact still remains that he was Nelson’s assistant coach. And the Warriors need a fresh start. Jackson will be able to reenergize the players and have them play with intensity on both ends of the court.
Finally, although Jackson has no coaching experience, he did play for four Hall of Fame coaches during his playing career: Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley, and Larry Brown. You can rest assured that he has learned some tricks of the trade from them, and he will rely on his experience with them throughout the season. Furthermore, Riley and Brown’s teams were notorious for playing hard-nosed defense, and don’t expect Jackson to have the Warriors be any different. A little defense never hurt anybody.
As a diehard Warriors fan, I am excited about what Jackson brings to the table, and I think the Warriors will make the playoffs within the next 2 seasons. Remember, Rome was not built in a day…