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Steve Kerr’s Success (So Far) With Golden State No Reflection on Mark Jackson’s Coaching Acumen

628x471The owner of the Golden State Warriors said he fired Mark Jackson as coach of his team after least season because people inside the building didn’t like him. Joe Lacob hired Steve Kerr and the team is off to the best start in the NBA. So what does that mean?

It could mean Kerr is a genius coach and Lacob was smart for getting rid of Jackson…Nah. More likely, it means the Warriors have top flight talent that is playing well together. That’s what it takes to win in the NBA, more so than even a quality coach.

This is not to say Kerr does not know what he’s doing. In fact, his personality and basketball I.Q. are both elements that look to make him an exceptional coach.

But his success does not mean firing Jackson was the right move, especially given what the former NBA point guard did in leading the Warriors into prominence from the abyss—20 years of below average teams. And especially since Lacob’s reasons were shallow and don’t hold up under scrutiny.

First off, who cares if 200 people in the building “don’t like” the coach, as Lacob claimed in front of a group of venture capitalists? Actually, it’s likely Jackson never came in contact with 200 people within the organization. Secondly, anyone who has spent five minutes around Jackson–I spent four years around him when he played for the New York Knicks—would find the guy affable, smart, funny and anything else that depicts a class act.

On top of all that, isn’t the goal to win? Jackson’s personable, relatable style was adored by his players, which should matter more than obscure personnel in marketing.

Lacob also belittled Jackson’s coaching staff, saying it was substandard—after winning 51 games and making the playoffs. “I think (Kerr) will be great,” Lacob said. “And he did the one thing I wanted more than anything from Mark Jackson, which is hire the best (staff). Carte blanche. Take my wallet. Do whatever it takes to get the best assistants in the world. Period. End of story. Don’t want to hear it. And (Jackson’s) answer was, ‘Well, I have the best staff.’ No, you don’t.”

Sounds like unnecessary drama. The team won 51 games in the tough Western Conference and made the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time in two decades–and was a team so explosive most clubs wanted to avoid.

Stephen Curry, the dynamic guard who is the top MVP candidate at this early juncture, said Lacob’s comments were a “distraction. My whole thing is to not discredit anything Coach Jackson did because he was such a great coach for us and elevated a lot of our individual games and I’m proud of that and appreciate that. And obviously it’s a new era, a new experience that we’re in right now and we’re enjoying it.”

 An ordained minister, Jackson, who is an analyst for ABC, touched on Lacob’s comments during his sermon on Sunday at True Love Worship Center International in Reseda, Calif.

Smiling and with his congregation roaring, Jackson said, according to reports: “(Lacob) put me on blast. . . He said I was good for nothing, an owner that knew me for three years and spent a couple of minutes around me, an owner that had the audacity to say that 200 folks don’t like me in the business.”

He did not go any further. He knew he didn’t have to. But someone should, so we’ll do it here. Kerr seems to have the goods. But he should be coaching the New York Knicks, the job offered to him first by Phil Jackson, not the Warriors. What would we be saying about Kerr’s coaching then?

If Jackson were not fired, Golden State still would be a force.

As it is, Kerr and Lacob look like smart guys. Jackson looks like he got hosed for no good reason. But he left behind a legacy on winning in his brief time in Golden State. Time will show if Kerr and Lacob will do the same.

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