OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has been fired following a meeting with the team’s ownership group.
The team sent out a press release saying it had relieved Jackson of his duties. “It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers in the statement.
“Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago,” said Myers. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”
Bay Area Sports Examiner reporter Ryan Leong was the first to report the firing.
The 49-year-old Jackson, who had been head coach of the Warriors since 2011, led the team to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The Warriors were defeated last week in the Western Conference semifinals by the Los Angeles Clippers three games to two.
The Warriors 51-31 record this season was their best since the 1991-92 season. They have made the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons and have become one of the NBA’s top defensive teams.
Jackson tweeted out a thank you to the organization and fans for their support over the past three seasons.
Jackson, a former NBA point guard who had his best seasons with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, had never been a head coach at any level when Lacob hired him away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. An ordained minister who runs a church with his wife near their Southern California home, Jackson often spoke of his Christian beliefs and promised to turn the Warriors into one of the NBA’s best defensive teams and a perennial playoff contender — and he did.
But Jackson’s boisterous personality, at times, did not play well with Warriors management, his staff and — to a much lesser extent — his players, most of whom said they wanted him to return. And his attitude, which bordered on confidence and cockiness, might’ve ultimately cost him his job.
The Warriors still stuck by Jackson even when he created news off the court, including when reports surfaced in June 2012 that he and his family were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had six years prior, which led to questions about his credibility and morals.
The pressure on Jackson really began when the Warriors decided to pick up his contract option for the 2014-15 season last summer instead of negotiating a long-term deal as he had wanted. Management also encouraged Jackson to hire a strong tactician after top assistant Michael Malone — who had several disagreements with Jackson — left to become the coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Instead, Jackson promoted Pete Myers and other assistants and hired Lindsey Hunter and Brian Scalabrine. And while reports of rifts within the team surfaced on occasion, dismissing two assistants in a 12-day stretch before the playoffs perpetuated the idea that Jackson had fostered an environment of dysfunction — which Jackson repeatedly refuted.
The Warriors reassigned Scalabrine to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz on March 25 because of what Jackson called a “difference in philosophies.” Then, the Warriors fired Darren Erman on April 5 for reportedly recording conversations during coaches’ meetings and discussions between coaches and players without their knowledge.
Jackson and his family also were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had in 2006, which became public in June 2012.
Several home losses to lesser teams frustrated Lacob more than anything and cost the Warriors a chance to earn anything more than the sixth playoff seed, which they also had a year ago when they upset Denver in the first round before falling to San Antonio. The Warriors still showed a lot of fight — and an ability to make adjustments — with center Andrew Bogut out with a fractured right rib in the playoffs, pushing the third-seeded Clippers to seven games.
Jackson said after the game that he never worried about his job.
“I work every single day with a passion and a commitment like it’s my last,” he said. “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.”
Team captains Stephen Curry and David Lee both voiced their support of Jackson in recent days, saying players wanted Jackson back as coach and an end to all the uncertainty that surrounded him this season.
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.