The roots of the historically great Golden State Warriors team were planted long before their historic run. Take nothing away from Steve Kerr who implemented his non-stop off-ball movement offensive system which put the Warriors over the top, but the person who deserves more credit when talking about one of the greatest teams ever is the guy who coached them before Kerr and that is Mark Jackson.
His fingerprints were all over the Warriors, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Jackson's adventure with the Warriors ended in 2014 after a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Jackson hasn't been given another head coaching job after that, despite having a 121-109 record with the Dubs and developing the young core of the team that was dominating in the coming years.
Many believe that Jackson is one of the brightest basketball minds in the league who is not coaching an NBA team. There is talk among the current and former players that Jackson is being blackballed from the NBA. When asked about it on All The Smoke podcast, Jackson said that „no man can blackball me“ and it seems that he is optimistic about coaching in the league again. He also spoke about his time with the Warriors and the growing pains they went through before truly realizing their potential, giving all of the credit to the players and their focus on getting better and putting in the work.
“You win in this league with talent and I was fortunate enough to acquire some incredible talent and continue to improve it with the great organization and great decisions. That being said, we were not ready to beat you guys (the Clippers). To me, it takes a process and we went 3 years only beating the Memphis Grizzlies 2 or 3 times because they were more physical, they were more experienced and more polished and they were pros. So it's a process and what we see today, you could point the finger back to 6 or 7 years ago when they were in the gym grinding. One thing about those guys, they were true professionals, every one of the guys I coached, they were all in from day one and about the culture, you can say my staff and I played the key role, but you have to have willing basketball players that want to do the work, work their tails off and compete and continue to get better and I was blessed in that area.”
Mark Jackson, All The Smoke
Even though they are different types of coaches it seems that there is mutual respect between Jackson and Kerr and that they both realize the impact each of them had on molding the juggernaut the Warriors became. What made Golden State so special is its dominance on both ends of the floor and Jackson deserves the credit for changing the identity of the team and making them a tough defensive-minded team. Warriors continued to use defensive schemes Jackson implemented and Kerr took it to another level by playing Green as a small-ball center, using his defensive versatility and toughness to open up the floor on the offensive end and utilize team's shooting ability.
“You can say I did a good job and Steve did a great job, so I give him a lot of credit. People can say I can coach, somebody else may say I can't coach, but the one person in the world beyond the shadow of the doubt that can tell you whether somebody can coach is the person that took the job after them. You can tell who was taught and who wasn't. I give Steve Kerr a lot of credit, he has been nothing but fantastic to me.”
Mark Jackson, All The Smoke
Mark Jackson will probably never receive formal recognition for the work he's done with the Warriors, but with all the credit he's receiving from his former players and the coach who took the job after him it is obvious that Jackson played a huge role in the making of a record-breaking 73-win season team.