Mark Jackson’s tenure as head coach of the Golden State Warriors has been chewed over publicly for years now, in large part because the Warriors became a dynasty once he left and because Jackson himself continues to be in the public eye as a broadcaster for ESPN and a well-known candidate for coaching jobs around the NBA.
But Jackson spoke on the topic once again in an interview with Rich Kleiman this week, and he went deep on his tenure, his regrets, and what went wrong that led to his firing in 2014. Kleiman asked Jackson specifically whether “the narrative” around Jackson and the culture he built while coaching the Warriors plays a role in his inability to get another head coaching job in the league now.
“It plays a role,” Jackson responded, before going out of his way to bring up how his religion may play a part in how fans and decision-makers view him. “You could make the statement that I forced folks to go to church, but what sense does that make?”
Jackson is referring to details from Marcus Thompson’s Steph Curry biography, in which Thompson tells the story of Jackson bringing his star player to a religious service and, along with his wife, rubbing oil on Curry’s sprained ankle and getting the entire congregation involved in an effort to heal the ankle. Thompson does not ever state in that passage that Jackson forced Curry to attend the service, which is what Jackson seemed to deny on Kleiman’s podcast.
Of course there were other factors that led to Jackson’s undoing, including the chaos surrounding his coaching staff and the way he used Curry. Team governor Joe Lacob has said in the past that Jackson’s relationships throughout the organization played a major part in the decision to move on from Jackson as well and ultimately hire Steve Kerr.