Many continue to praise Steve Kerr for unleashing the shooting machine that is Stephen Curry. While the man deserves ample credit, people seem to have forgotten the part Mark Jackson played when he was coach of the Golden State Warriors. Interestingly, way before he stepped into the NBA sidelines, Jackson already saw Curry’s limitless potential.
Starting point guard
Mark Jackson was a color commentator during a game between Curry’s Davidson and Duke. Jackson made a confident statement about Curry’s abilities that surprised his partner. Curry’s shooting abilities were obvious. But it was another part of his game that caught Jackson’s attention.
“Steph Curry right now is a starting point guard in the NBA. This guy has special talent as far as shooting the basketball and he’s a willing passer and he competes. I love Stephen Curry.”
The Duke vs. Davidson game was in 2009. Interestingly, this was the year Curry was picked seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors. In his rookie year, Curry played 80 games, 77 of which were part of the starting lineup. Jackson hit the bull’s eye with his reading of Curry’s abilities. Yes, Steph was still notorious for turning the ball over. But you pick a prospect not for what he is but for what he could become. The young Stephen Curry certainly had what it takes to make it big in the NBA.
Fast forward to the 2011-12 NBA season, Jackson became head coach of the Warriors. Perhaps the man loved Curry’s game so much that he tried out his luck at a coaching post for the first time in his career. It would be interesting to know how the job interview went. Jackson probably went wax poetic on Curry’s infinite potential. The front office hired Jackson, confident that he’ll turn Curry into a great player.
As we all know, Jackson’s stint in the Bay lasted three seasons. Right after he left, the Warriors won championship after championship. Critics immediately pounced on Jackson for failing to guide the Warriors when the pieces were already there.
This is an unfair evaluation of Jackson’s tenure. After all, he did guide the team to two playoff appearances in three years. They went as far as the Western Conference Semifinals in 2013. Also, Kerr credits Jackson for turning the Warriors into a team with great defensive instincts. The belief that Jackson did not contribute to Curry or the Warriors’ development should be completely discarded.