Oh how soon we forget. Last season Mark Jackson was the coach of the Warriors. During the postseason last spring, his Warriors faced a first-round series against the Clippers with all sorts of outside distraction. Primarily, the ghoulish specter of Donald Sterling hung over the entire proceedings, but Jackson’s job was also on the line — though we didn’t really know it at the time, except for whispers there was a rift between Jackson and the front office.
The Warriors ended up losing Game 7 at Staples Center in the first round. The loss didn’t spark Jackson’s termination last summer by Warriors brass, but Jackson had a unique opportunity to comment on his dismissal during Sunday’s Warriors win over the Grizzlies in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal.
When discussing San Antonio’s noble defeat in Game 7 at Staples Center on Saturday night, Jackson couldn’t help but include this line:
“I don’t know if Pop [Gregg Popovich] heard. Thank God for job security because losing Game 7 on the road to the Clippers can cost you your job.”
Cue chuckles from Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy.
Even though Jackson has been working for ESPN/ABC for most of the year, and called a few Warriors games, he’s shown nothing but respect for his old team. There have been some slight jabs, but they’ve flown under the radar as the religious former coach turns the other cheek.
Jackson’s been particularly supportive of the man who replaced him: rookie head coach Steve Kerr. In fact, when Jackson called Game 1 between the Warriors and Pelicans in their first-round series, he called for Kerr to be coach of the year.
“You have to give him a lot of credit,” Jackson said. “He has done an outstanding job. In my opinion, the Coach of the Year. He has elevated this basketball team.”
But last night, Jackson couldn’t help but offer the above joke. It wasn’t said in malice, or even bitterness, just a line about Popovich having enough job security to lose in the first round on the road in a Game 7 and still keep his job. Jackson certainly didn’t keep his after his team was knocked out the same way.
If these are the only shots Jackson fires while covering the Warriors this postseason, hopefully he can continue to call Dubs games since he’s so familiar with their personnel.