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First-Time Coach Predicts Playoff Spot For Warriors

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Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

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DALLAS, Texas (AP) ― First-time coach Mark Jackson has a bold prediction for his first season with the Golden State Warriors.

“I fully expect, put it in bold letters, the Golden State Warriors to be a playoff team next year,” Jackson said after being hired earlier this week by the team that has been to the playoffs only once since 1994. “If I did not expect that, I would not have taken the job, and I won’t minimize it with just being a playoff team. We are looking to turn the Bay Area upside down.”

Jackson’s comments came at Game 4 of the NBA finals, where he is working as a lead analyst for ESPN and ABC television. He will begin his first coaching job full time after the end of the series between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

In 17 seasons as an NBA point guard, Jackson played for New York, the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana, Denver, Toronto, Utah and Houston. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1988 and made the playoffs 14 times. He ranks third on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

While Jackson has never coached at any level, he doesn’t see that as an issue.

“Some would say I’m naive, but I don’t think that’s a big deal,” he said. “I’ve been a leader my entire life. Every team I ever played for, I was a leader, I was really an extension of the coach on the floor. I know that’s cliche, but it really was in my position. I was a guy that no coach ever told me what set to run offensively. I ran the set and they trusted in my ability to make reads and make calls. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”

Jackson said he is more concerned that he’s never been in the position to organize everything for an entire team on a daily basis.

“I’ve conquered every challenge in front of me with the help of the good Lord, and I look forward to this one,” he said.

The 46-year-old Jackson played for five Hall of Fame coaches in his college and pro career: Lou Carnesecca, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley and Larry Brown.

“Great minds help form who I am today,” Jackson said.

Jackson will have one of the NBA’s top assistants on the bench with him after hiring Mike Malone as his lead assistant Tuesday. Malone was an assistant for New Orleans last season and previously the lead assistant in Cleveland under Mike Brown.

“First and foremost, it’s a great day. Mike Malone is a guy that I’ve known for quite some time,” Jackson said. “I have tremendous respect for his passion, his knowledge, his commitment. He’s an extremely loyal guy, so it’s a big-time hire for us.”

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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