When the New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale in December, speculation immediately began swirling about a replacement. One of the names mentioned was former Knicks guard and Brooklyn native Mark Jackson. This week Jackson made it clear he’s ready to take the job.
Mark Jackson fired at Golden State
When the Golden State Warriors hired Mark Jackson as head coach in 2011, he inherited a team that had gone 36-46 the previous season and had made one postseason appearance in 18 years. Jackson came in, instilled a different mindset, and completely changed the culture. And it showed.
That first season the Warriors struggled as they adjusted to Jackson’s new system. The record didn’t reflect it, but the team was headed in the right direction. In the 2012-13 season, Jackson’s coaching style began paying dividends. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson’s offensive games dramatically improved, the Warriors finished second in the Pacific Division, and the team made the playoffs. The Warriors knocked off the Denver Nuggets in the first round before falling to the San Antonio Spurs.
The following season the improvements continued. Jackson demanded a defensive intensity that matched the flourishing offense and the Warriors became the best defense in the Western Conference. All of it combined to equal a 51-31 record and a second consecutive berth in the playoffs. The Warriors suffered a first-round loss to the up-and-coming Los Angeles Clippers.
Following the season, inexplicably, Jackson was fired.
Mark Jackson’s firing fallout and accusations of blackballing
Jackson’s firing caught many in the league by surprise. There were numerous explanations, including he was too resistant to analytics, mismanagement of the coaching staff, and his distant relationship with the Warriors’ front office.
Whatever the reason for the firing, others around the league have spoken out about Jackson’s shocking dismissal, including Warriors player Andre Iguodala.
“He was the ultimate player’s coach. He was one of my favorite coaches of all-time. Come in, compete, play hard, and then he was gonna put you in the best position to get the most money.”
Mark Jackson returned to ESPN broadcasting the following season. Despite his success as a broadcaster, most thought Jackson would land with another NBA team, with so many organizations looking for a proven winning coach. Some suggest he hasn’t returned because Jackson has been blackballed.
Jackson ready to coach Knicks
On a recent episode of the “All the Smoke” podcast with former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, Mark Jackson discussed his time at Golden State and his future as a basketball coach.
Jackson said the success at Golden State was a combination of factors.
“What you see today, you can point back to six or seven years ago when they were grinding. They were true professionals. They bought in from day one, and the culture changed. You can say it’s the coaching staff, but you have to have willing basketball players that want to do the work, compete, and continue to get better, and I was blessed in that area.”
Jackson said he has enjoyed his time as an analyst for NBA games but admitted he misses the competitive edge. When Barnes pressed him on that edge and his future, Jackson never hesitated.
“I truly believe that the day will come when I will have the opportunity to walk the sidelines again and lead a basketball team. For three years in Golden State, I had the time of my life impacting players and developing relationships and changing the culture. I truly was blessed to do that and I look forward to the opportunity to do that again. I don’t believe that no man can blackball me. That door will open up, and the opportunity will present itself. I’ll be locked and loaded and fully prepared to finish the task.”
With his past coaching success and confident attitude, the future looks bright for Jackson and whatever team that decides to hire him. James Dolan, it’s your move.