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.”
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 email@example.com.