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Here is a link to my Wednesday column about the firing of Mark Jackson. The full text runs below:

OAKLAND — Let’s skip the preamble about why the Warriors fired Mark Jackson and if it was the right call. We’ll get to that stuff later in this column. Warriors owner Joe Lacob phoned me 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Here are the high points of our conversation.

Cohn: What qualities did Mark Jackson not have?

Lacob: “Let me give you an analogy. After starting 70 companies over 30 years, tons of management changes, there are companies when they’re start-up, they have one kind of leader. When they get to be a mature company, a billion-dollar revenue company — call it a championship team — that’s a different CEO, a different leader.

“It’s not necessarily the same skill set that allows me to have Mark Jackson come in when we were a bad team three years ago, to turn that around at the basketball level, turn around a basketball culture. That’s a hard thing to do. We felt, and I felt, he could do that at the time because of the power of his personality. I cannot discredit him now even though we parted ways.

“We grew from 23 to 47 to 51 wins. He, in many ways, did a great job of managing basketball. Now here we are three years in. This year going forward is a different situation and it’s a different skill set that’s required. We felt we didn’t have the right guy to do that.

“I want to be more specific. It’s one thing managing down, managing players. He did a good job of that. The other thing is managing sideways or managing up. Some of those skills with Mark are new skills. He’s been a basketball coach and player, but not a manager.

“He had some problems within the organization, in my estimation, in Bob’s estimation (Bob Myers, general manager). It got pretty difficult around here. There were people who didn’t get along that well during the course of this year. Why that happened, I don’t know. I can only tell you it did. We felt we would have to make a change and get a different guy to take the basketball team to the next level.”

Cohn: Does that mean Jackson was not getting along with ownership and management?

Lacob: “He got along with me very well. But there were issues within the organization, between basketball operations and coaches. And perhaps a few other bunches in the organization that really were not handled the way I would like to see them handled.”

Cohn: Were you aware he had a very weak coaching staff and did that factor into your thinking?

Lacob: “I don’t want to make an assessment of how strong or weak his staff was. I will say that he had full, full control of who was hired and who worked for him and I just think, going forward, he might want to hire some people to further complement his skills.”

Cohn: What qualities do you want in the new coach?

Lacob: “We’re really going to take our time and do this right. We want someone who is a leader. You always want that in a head coach. It’s important to have someone who has great organizational skills. I want to emphasize in the last playoff series he was not out-coached. We lost, I think, maybe to the better team in the last two minutes of a seventh game.”

Cohn: Did Jackson and Jerry West not get along and was that a factor in the firing?

Lacob: “I can’t say no factor, but you have to understand one thing. Jerry West is an opinionated guy. He has a lot to add. He does have some interaction with basketball. He gets involved with the draft, free agency, advising us on coaches and players.

“Did he get along great with Mark Jackson? I would say they got along well enough. I don’t think it was a perfect relationship, by any means. It was not the reason Mark is not here today.”

End of conversation. To sum up Jackson in this, his exit column, here is my take on the firing: Jackson won 51 games, but he is not a good overall coach. He is not a good teacher. He and his staff have almost ruined Harrison Barnes.

He did not get along with ownership, showed a shocking lack of tact. Myers met the media on Tuesday. Asked what qualities the new coach needs, Myers said, “We can find someone that will be very successful on the court and very successful working with ownership and management.”

That means Jackson was not successful in that area. This just in — a head coach needs to get along with the owner, needs to get along with the GM, needs to get along with various advisers. Needs to build relationships with the whole group. You get the impression Jackson was a first-class pain.

He is incredibly stubborn, has the attitude he’s right all the time, has that attitude to a dangerous extent.

Take his attitude about his coaching staff. It generally was labeled the worst in the league. He assembled the staff of his own freewill. Management noticed this.

Jackson is sensitive, insecure. He wants no assistant who has quality. A quality assistant might know more than Jackson, might vie for his job. Jackson surrounded himself with mediocrities. A safe but fruitless strategy. Stubborn. Insecure.

Management believed Jackson had taken the Warriors as far as he could. Because he is not self-critical, does not take criticism well, does not learn, does not work and play well with others, the Warriors would remain where they are, would continue to exit the playoffs early, would not be elite. A team cannot become elite if the coach refuses to realize he needs to get better.

The Warriors do not have an endless window of opportunity. David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala are getting older. The Warriors need a top-flight coach now. They can’t be stuck with Jackson. The Warriors’ history of futility is not Lacob’s history. He sees himself as a winner.

At his news conference, Myers said the decision to fire Jackson was unanimous among the voters. No dissenters. He said the new coach has “to develop a synergy between everybody in the basketball operations, between ownership, coaching, everybody.”

He said the Warriors have not yet assembled a short list of coaching candidates. He refused to say if Steve Kerr is a candidate. He said the players will respect management’s decision to fire Jackson. He does not expect a player revolt or anything like that.

I agree. Players want to play.

Myers said, “It’s not, as we approach the coaching search, we’ll feel like we are one of the last choices of a coach. I feel like it’s the opposite. I feel like, when we’re looked upon from afar, this organization is going to be viewed as a very desirable place to coach. I think we are a place that will resonate with a lot of coaches.”

I agree.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Joe Lacob. He showed guts, knowing the backlash he will face. He made the right call. I applaud his decision to fire Mark Jackson.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Joe Shank

    Perfectly stated by Lowell Cohn! The culture has
    been changed by the Lacob Management Team.
    Though Jackson was outwardly supported. by
    many of the team members. It is apparent
    he was not a true team player; you must work
    with staff, and management. This dismissal
    was not about record at all…
    It is interesting Andrew Bogut was not part of
    the team supporting Jacksom.
    I am sure his religious views were offensive to some in the organization.

    May 6th, 2014 8:40 pm

  2. Stan

    Yeah,yeah,yeah, I’ve heard that tact thing myself. Its when bright minds that grew up in another culture meet corporate America and its obsession with chain of command and “rules”

    It didn’t matter the common goal was to win. I mean he did that,and plenty of it. So did Hue. Singletary didn’t want to be told what to do..its not what he grew up hearing I bet. And whats the common denominator?.

    Yeah,I’m sure the well off raised in a conformist community are convinced they know the “true” way of getting things done. It didn’t matter Mark and Hue won their way after all.
    I’ve seen it myself..a job well done didn’t matter.
    “And that’s the way we like it!”..is more a truism then a joke.

    May 6th, 2014 9:04 pm

  3. Ben

    Stan, cogent as always.

    Lowell, I won’t know if I agree with you or not until after next season, since the wisdom of this decision will be validated or not by how deep the W’s go under Coach X.

    I really, really hope this doesn’t set them back. Sure, it could all work out dreamy… get a superstar coach in here, add a few wins next season… advance a bit more.

    What bothers me about the decision to let him go seems to be exactly what convinces you it was the right move: it wasn’t about wins and losses. It was about politics and personality conflicts.

    And as a fan, while these storylines are fascinating… at the end of the day (see what I did there?) I like wins, and those were on the right trajectory.

    May 6th, 2014 10:36 pm

  4. dharte

    If Mark Jackson was threatened by Jerry West he was simply foolish, since West is a resource any smart coach or player would want to have as a resource.

    The Warriors simply made too many mistakes on the court this season to be legit contenders, and if this organization actually dreams of competing on even terms with San Antonio, Miami and the other powers in the NBA, turnovers need to be kept to a minimum, carelessness needs to be challenged.

    But there is another troubling problem with this club and that is the judgment of the GM: Mo Speights, Toney Douglas, the European Derrick Rose, Jordan Crawford, Steve Blake, that tall white ghost always anchored to the end of that bench? These are not players who can hold a lead or help win a title; any comparison with the Spurs or Heat bench players is just painful.

    Bob Myers brought all of these players in, and he was dead wrong each time. Yet the Clippers somehow landed Glen Davis, Danny Granger and a number of other useful pieces mid-season–as did the Heat.

    At this point Lacob needs to let Jerry West fix this roster, and the Warriors need to start at power forward. And whether Lacob thinks David Lee is son-in-law material or not, the fact remains no team is winning an NBA title with David Lee at power forward: Griffin, Ibaka, Duncan, and Aldridge–just in the West–dominate him. If you want change, Joe, if you want to compete, keep looking for the weak links. And Bob Myers (at least as a talent evaluator) & David Lee ought to jump right out…

    May 6th, 2014 10:51 pm

  5. Elknarps

    Huey was 8-8. Singletary under 500. They did it their own way and were average at best. Jackson was better than average, but his own way seemed to have been cold to communicating with the organization that employed him. Maybe a genius can catch lightening in the playoffs, but those coaches are rare.

    May 6th, 2014 11:03 pm

  6. Steve the cat rescuer

    I’ll second Ben’s comments. I read Kawakami’s transcript of the Lacob/Myers interview and laughed out loud when Lacob compared the Warriors to Apple, stating “even Steve Jobs was fired.” Yeah, and look what happened to Apple until he returned to rescue it from innovative stagnation and imminent bankruptcy. In the same interview, Lacob is already laying the foundation for making Myers the scapegoat should the next coach prove to be a disaster by insisting that, while everyone in the group of five had input, “it was Myers’ call” to fire Jackson. I worked for a few bosses like that; they took credit for all the successes and placed the blame on others for the failures.

    May 6th, 2014 11:16 pm

  7. Dr. Feelgood

    All of the losses to weaker teams spotlight Jackson’s shortcomings on the offensive side. The rancor with upper management sealed his fate, but it is Strategy that was his undoing.
    After the interminable malaise of the Cohen era, the W’s are run by a front office of smart, savvy, basketball men.
    Jackson will walk away proud, as it should be,
    The W’s are aiming for the top, as it should be.

    May 7th, 2014 12:17 am

  8. parnell

    Let’s see. One part of the indictment is that Jackson ruined Harrison Barnes. Management brought in Iguodala, a better player to start for the team. The starting five of Iguodala, Bogut, Lee, Curry and Thompson was arguably the best starting five in the league. You can’t start six players. Barnes didn’t thrive as a sixth man. You have a higher opinion of Barnes than most NBA observers but you might be right — Jackson didn’t develop Barnes to his full potential. How much of that result rests with Barnes?

    How about Stephen Curry? Jackson didn’t ruin him, he helped him become an all-star. How about Klay Thompson? His game expanded as the season went on and he seems primed to get even better. How about Draymond Green? He flourished under Jackson and was invaluable in the playoffs.

    Jackson has many apparent faults but Lacob is hardly the fount of basketball wisdom he thinks he is and his reported criticisms of Jackson’s strategies would make an independent minded coach think twice about working for him and a franchise so quick to fire a successful coach might make free agents less likely to want to play for him.
    Jackson was hired to coach a basketball team. He got his team within a play or two of beating the Clippers, a team that seems to be a legitimate contender for the NBA title. But that wasn’t enough for Lacob, the man who signs the checks for the players that Bob Myers placed on the roster.

    The opinion of the many current and former players and coaches who have voiced opinions is virtually unanimous puzzlement — firing Jackson was hardly the slam dunk you present it to be. Here’s Doc Rivers:

    “George Karl was Coach of the Year last year and got fired,” Rivers said. “Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years, and then gets fired. It’s our job. It’s a tough job, and I think everybody knows it now more than ever.”

    Doc should know about difficult owners.

    May 7th, 2014 1:19 am

  9. Dennis

    I loved the column. The only thing I came away wondering is when Bob Meyers said the decision to fire Jackson was unanimous, did Curry have a vote? That would speak volumes.

    Look, for all those Jackson supporters, it is very apparent that Lacob didn’t buy this team to win a lot of in season games or make his players feel better about themselves as men, or just get to the playoffs, he bought it to win NBA Championships. I don’t see Mark Jackson winning an NBA Championship as a coach anymore than I saw Don Nelson doing it.

    I didn’t like this move at first but the more I listen the more encouraged I am. I think the right guy bought the team and he will not rest – he wants rings!

    May 7th, 2014 7:51 am

  10. Steve the cat rescuer

    The morning after bottom line: Jackson’s record speaks for itself, as do the players that revere him. His only fault was working for an egomaniacal owner who thinks he knows more about basketball than the coach he hired and installing his inexperienced 25 year old kid as assistant GM.

    May 7th, 2014 8:36 am

  11. Steve the cat rescuer

    @dharte: Phil Jackson, shortly after assuming the role of head coach of the Lakers, told Jerry West to beat it. How did that work out?

    May 7th, 2014 9:48 am

  12. chris

    chances are Mark Jackson will be long forgotten a year from now…….the Warriors have the players to win 50 games again next year and make the playoffs. Its not going to take too much to find a coach who will reach 50 wins and another low seed in the playoffs.

    May 7th, 2014 9:51 am

  13. Brady

    Well said, Lowell. And this will make them better, I have little doubt.

    May 7th, 2014 10:07 am

  14. Stan

    8-8 for the Raiders after a decade of 4-12 and 1-4 starts that meant the rest of the season was practice. One crappy defensive coordinator forced on Hue by management,kept the team from the playoffs.
    Singletary? did better then his predecessor. And .500 for him would have got him another HC job,but for his hostile outbursts. And even then,you might say race had hand in that being a factor. No,I don’t think he’s HC material..but neither are many other retreads who get hired. and that’s my point.

    May 7th, 2014 10:16 am

  15. Dennis

    @Steve the cat rescuer:

    “Phil Jackson, shortly after assuming the role of head coach of the Lakers, told Jerry West to beat it. How did that work out?”

    Mark is not to be confused with Phil. Phil had already won a lot of Championships, already had established his credentials, he was already headed to the hall of fame as a coach. Mark Jackson does not have the same resume Phil had when he took the Laker job and told West to get lost. When you think of Mark you need to think more in terms of Del Harris, who got fired so they could bring in Phil Jackson.

    May 7th, 2014 10:17 am

  16. Mark M

    Outstanding interview and it was good to see someone ask the direct question about Jerry West and Jackson. I take it Jerry didn’t approve of him and that was probably his death knell. The rest of the front office would be foolish to ignore that. Can’t blame them. Interesting to see Radnich’s interview with Barnett last night. Barnett agreed mjack needed to go. It appears unanimous which surprises me.

    But the final determination as to whether this was the correct move or not is yet to be decided. The pressure on these guys just amped up considerably but I’m impressed that they are not backing away from it. Everyone stepped forward.

    May 7th, 2014 10:42 am

  17. Brady

    Steve the cat rescuer – Jackson’s record does not speak for itself. The talent on the roster speaks for itself.

    May 7th, 2014 11:41 am

  18. Shane

    Nice work Lowell. The Warriors have climbed to respectability in a league in which half the teams make the playoffs. Lacob is not satisfied with that nor should he be. For a Warriors coach to be next-level successful and take the team farther he needs to go head to head with Doc Rivers and Greg Popovich year in and year out. Anyone who thinks the Warriors can’t find a better coach are as delusional about Jackson’s stature as Jackson himself is. A coach needs to manage a lot more than the players. Jackson failed at that and as noted didn’t want assistants to complement his weaknesses, which are considerable. Good riddance.

    May 7th, 2014 12:14 pm

  19. Shane

    I’ll also add that I don’t agree with the takes of many pundits that say Lacob is a “meddling” owner. He let Jackson coach and let him hire a staff that crumbled around him at the most crucial point of the season. He wasn’t satisfied with the results or Jackson’s apparent self-satisfaction with the results and apparently didn’t like what direction Jackson wanted to go from there. I don’t see that as meddling I see it as being involved and making decisions that complement Lacob’s vision for the team, which is contending for a championship, not being satisfied with being the 6th seed two years in a row and a first round exit.

    May 7th, 2014 12:19 pm

  20. Dave T

    Here is a link to an article worth reading that to me is more scary than positive. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/warriors-begin-search-next-coach-175433713–nba.html

    A couple of quotes from it as well:

    “After jettisoning Jackson on Tuesday, Lacob and general manager Bob Myers moved forward on filling the team’s coaching vacancy Wednesday. Lacob said he has no set criteria for his next coach and no timetable to make the hire, but he’s counting on the search to attract more candidates – and more top-tier talent – than when he hired Jackson three years ago”

    “Where the Warriors go for their next coach is unclear. Lacob and Myers both declined to discuss specific candidates.”

    So let me get this straight. You fire your teams leader, who by all accounts has the backing and belief of the players, including your superstar all world shooting point guard. And in as much, you are saying, publicly at least, that you have no real plan, timetable or specific candidates in mind. Oh, and to top it off, you hope to attract “more top-tier talent” this time around. Honestly, if I am that candidate, I think I spend more time looking over my shoulder wondering if what I bring to the table is enough, and if my record is enough to build something and keep a job. You don’t change coaches and thereby team philosophy’s like socks, it is a recipe for disaster. Stability from the top down is the proven winner in sports by and large. Something that is proven over, and over and over.

    The most winning organizations in sports have had that aspect coupled with talent. Some examples: Steelers (Three head coaches in last 40 years), Patriots, 49ers (Under Walsh, Seifert, Eddie Jr.), Celtics under Auerbach, Lakers under Buss, Bulls (under Reinsdorf), Spurs, Cardinals, Yankees (Cashman Era), Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Manchester United (Sir Alex Fergusen) and even Jimmy Johnson (Chad Knauss/Hendrick). Consistency is the path to success and long term success.

    Lacob had the right to fire Jackson. But the right move? Time will tell that story. And if success follows, I will be to first to admit I was wrong.

    May 7th, 2014 1:23 pm

  21. Dave T

    Next year there is a very real possibility you could win 50 games in the West and NOT make the playoffs. By my estimation there are 10 teams vying for 8 playoff spots:

    Spurs
    Clippers
    Thunder
    Blazers
    Rockets
    Mavericks
    Warriors
    Grizzlies
    Suns
    Lakers (you really think they will be that bad again?)

    Barring a major move along with a new coach, the Warriors could find themselves on the outside looking in, instead of trying to get to the next round…..

    May 7th, 2014 2:43 pm

  22. Marco

    Hey Stan,

    Do you really think this is about race? Not everything is about race. Sometimes it’s just about people not getting along.

    Joe Lacob is a competitive business man. He wants to win and make money. (That doesn’t make him a racist). Mark Jackson somehow got sideways with management. It happens. Hopefully, Jackson and Lacob learn from the experience and grow as individuals.

    May 7th, 2014 3:28 pm

  23. Shane

    Here’s an article about Jackson’s insular hiring practices with some insights I haven’t read in the bay area press:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/68070/mark-jacksons-way-and-the-highway

    May 7th, 2014 7:08 pm

  24. Stan

    Also Lowell,you give Lacob a pass because he called you. And then he didn’t give a single example of proof to back up the reason for the firing. He also didn’t explain why Joe would place so much importance on dime a dozen assistant coaches when Jackson had made the team a winner- as promised- and he did try to change the loser culture as he said he would from the day he was hired. Jackson was asked to do that..and then fired for doing it?
    Where are the reasons from Joe Lacob? Stand in front of a projector and tell us Joe.
    I’m sure not going to be happy its because two bit assistants and the owners son didn’t get their way.
    I hire to win.

    May 8th, 2014 10:33 am

  25. Stan

    I give permission to any sportswriter to say “Joe Lacob made a mistake”. None have,but then again none but me from DAY ONE said that stadium would never be built over SF bay. And giving away Lin wasn’t a great move..or not deporting Beidrens.

    May 8th, 2014 10:40 am

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