Everyone knows the story by now. Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson were unable to agree on a contract extension after the Warriors made it to the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, and throughout the 2013-14 season Jackson’s job security has been in question. Many sources have said Jackson needed to make it to the Conference Finals to keep his job.
After the Warriors lost Game 7 to the Clippers, several players were asked how they feel about Jackson and whether he should return.
The most strident views on the subject came from the team’s lone superstar, Stephen Curry.
What coach has gone through this year has been unlike anything I’ve seen. Just the amount of distractions and the circus that’s been around him and the decisions he’s had to make. I love coach more than anybody. For him to be in a situation where his job is under scrutiny and under question is totally unfair. It would definitely be a shock to me if anything like that were to happen. I’m going to voice my support for coach, you know, you’ve got anybody that asks me all summer. He deserves to be our coach next year and we’re going to come back and build off the momentum we’ve gained in the last three years, and continue to grow as a team. And I want Coach Jackson to be the guy leading us.
Does he think he’s played his last game for Coach Jackson?
I don’t. Obviously we’re not the ones making the decisions. We came into the season thinking that this was a long-term situation, but obviously he’s been asked these questions all year. I don’t think we have, I don’t think most of the guys in the locker room do as well. I think we’re ready to go into training camp next year with Jackson at the helm.
Curry is in a position where he can say whatever he wants about the team’s direction, within reason. Three other players who’ve publicly supported Jackson in the past also spoke up, but were more tempered in their postgame comments.
Andre Iguodala wasn’t about to go as far as Curry when asked about what Lacob and Co. might do.
I’m the new guy in town, just trying to fit in. Trying to make things go smooth as possible, sacrifice myself. I try not to worry about anything outside my control.
However, Iguodala was willing to explain why he and several members of the team connect with their coach on a level rarely seen in the NBA (or any professional league, for that matter).
It’s more than basketball. His presence affects the whole entire team. Just from a respect level, a spiritual level, making every guy a better man. Those are the things you’ll remember looking back on your career. Not only how you grew as a basketball player, but how you grew as a man. It’s a very rare trait in a basketball coach. To most it’s all about wins and losses, but to him it’s really about the effect you can have on somebody and helping him grow and see the bigger picture in life.
It was definitely what coach has built. Guys going to battle. Guys giving max effort. That’s what he preaches every day. You fall in line, everybody. You just fall in line. When you have a great leader, you fall in line. When you have a terrible leader, either you fall in line and follow that bad leadership or you fall out of line in clash. I think he’s been a great leader, so everyone fell in line.
I think I’d do a disservice to say we’re playing for coach, because he was coaching for us. He wasn’t coaching for himself, he was coaching for us. It’s a two-way street.
A day earlier, Jermaine O’Neal said, “”You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year.” Here’s what he said after Game 7:
We have one of the best coaches in the business, without a doubt. But sometimes the business changes a little bit. You can’t really control as players what happens. We saw it last year, with two coaches getting fired after winning fifty-plus games, record-breaking seasons. Whatever they decide to do, I’m sure they’re going to make the best decision for themselves. As far as the ownership, I know they’re going to continue to be great owners, premiere franchise owners. Whether Mark is here or somewhere else, he’s going to be a fantastic coach. So I think, either way, no matter what happens, both guys are going to come out on top.
Jackson himself has this to say:
I don’t pay attention to it. There’s never been discussions as far as my ownership group and my management team. So I don’t pay attention to it. I work every single day with a passion and a commitment, like it’s my last. I’m trying to be a blessing to people, I’m trying to impact people, and that’s the way I live my life. That’s the way I coach. I don’t get caught up in it. I’m totally confident and have total faith that no matter what, I’m going to be fine, and that’s even if I’m a full-time pastor. It’s going to work out.
Lacob didn’t speak to reporters, so all we have is this statement from Adrian Wojnarowski.
Mark Jackson doesn’t have one GSW front office ally who’ll make a case to ownership to keep him. “He’s on an island,” league source says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 4, 2014
Jackson’s regular season record with the Warriors is 121-109 (.526), 98-66 (.636) over the last two seasons. His teams went 9-10 in three playoff series.