Mark Jackson Golden State Warriors

SFBay.ca issued a pretty explosive report on Friday afternoon about former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson:

On April 29, 2013, Jason Collins announced to the world that he is gay.

In February of this year, the Brooklyn Nets made Collins the first openly gay player in the NBA.

During a shoot-around on a road trip before Collins signed, reporters asked then-Golden State Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson his opinion of several big men as possible additions.

After someone joked about the signing of former Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to a 10-day contract, Collins’ name was brought up.

Jackson, according to a source close to the team, responded tersely:

“Not in my locker room.”

There’s more to the SFBay story, but some questions pop up immediately.

  • In the third paragraph, reporters asked Jackson about available big men. Were reporters still present during the actions described in the fourth paragraph?
  • Who joked about Scalabrine?
  • Who brought up Collins?
  • Who was the “source close to the team”?

One would assume “close to the team” would rule out any of the players, since they are the team. SFBay reached out to two men who could be considered “close to the team,” President and COO Rick Welts (who came out in 2011) and Co-Executive Chairman, CEO and Governor Joe Lacob. That is, unless members of the front office are also considered members of the team. Either way, neither executive provided any answers.

Welts declined to comment on the situation to SFBay. Warriors owner Joe Lacob has said in the past that Jackson’s firing had nothing to do with his religious beliefs.

When contacted by SFBay, Lacob had little to add regarding the former coach’s beliefs or reasons for his dismissal:

“I have no comment. We have moved on. I have made my statements.”

If we can assume the “source close to the team” wasn’t a member of the media, I guess the best way to figure out where the leak came from is to print out this list of Warriors employees (which contains around 150 people or so) and throw a dart. Actually, that’s a terrible idea. Very wasteful. Let’s instead see how Jackson is responding.

He posted the following tweet about an hour after the story was published:

He then retweeted this response to his tweet above:

Posted one day after the story was published:

On Monday evening he responded directly to the question many reporters would love to ask:

He even cut ties with the Golden State Warriors’ Twitter account: Mark Jackson unfollowed Warriors twitter

Julie Phayer is a Digital Marketing Assistant for the Warriors, and one of her duties is to maintain the team’s Twitter account. She deleted the original tweet that @courtside captured, but @warriorsworld had a little fun with it.

Will this story follow Jackson? ESPN is surely hoping it vanishes, since Jackson is calling the NBA Finals with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. I was curious if any connected NBA reporters (Adrian Wojnarowski came to mind, unless someone local had a scoop) would have anything extra to add on Monday (or sooner), but nothing.

Here’s what Jackson said to reporters on April 29, 2013 about Collins:

Q: “Did you hear about Jason Collins today coming out as the first gay athlete still in the game?”

Jackson: “I will say this. We live in a country 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.”

Q: Is there a stigma attached to him now? Will he be able to get on another team?

Jackson: “That’s not for me to answer.”

Q: “Would he be welcome as a Warrior?”

Jackson: “If he had game.” (Jackson laughs, as do several members of the media.)

Jackson’s “praying for them at this time” remark stirred up some controversy, and adds plausibility to SFBay’s report (which includes a link to a KQED interview with Welts, which took place a few days before Collins signed with the Nets for the first time in 2014).

Here’s what Welts said to KQED at that time:

“Mark and I have the kind of relationship where we could have a conversation about that. I think that was in some way taken out of context. Mark and I are in a really good place right now. I think that how he feels about the issue is not inconsistent with what we would hope, as any employee of the Warriors. He probably didn’t say it exactly the way he wished he’d said it at the time, so it did disappoint me. But since, we’ve certainly talked it out and we’re in a good place.”

If Jackson said what SFBay is reporting, Welts was misinformed about how Jackson felt.

Jackson has harped on the “lies” throughout the last few months. Here’s what he said after the Warriors took Game 6 against the Clippers, 100-99.

But the way that this team conducts itself, in spite of everything that we’ve gone through, all the lies, all the adversity, all the sources, I could not be prouder, because what we are doing collectively speaks against it. Somebody’s lying.”

Yeah, but who?