Frequent contributor FlashFire weighs in on the Jackson mess.
There’s a lot more than just one problem here, and it doesn’t excuse Jackson at all. Cohan and Rowell are the two biggest ones as long as they’re still here. That should be understood as a default by anyone who’s been a Warriors fan even if they jumped on board during the “We Believe” thing.
Jackson’s whole attitude shift is a direct result of the team doing nothing to really improve after “We Believe” when in fact, just about everything they’ve done since then has made the team progressively younger, progressively worse.
Whatever the debate about whether “We Believe” could have been sustained, we never got a chance to find out for sure and the organization misfired on multiple opportunities to do more than just skim off the success of getting the fanbase worked up into enough of a frenzy that they could sell more season tickets, which clearly looks like their first and only goal.
Don Nelson coaches a style of basketball that feeds right into the organization’s “Great Time Out” mantra, which values entertainment over wins. Fans know they’re going to see a game that usually features a lot of fast-paced action, more points than other teams get (along with more points allowed) and idiots running around on the court (these mostly being the ones who hand out free pizzas and t-shirts, to be clear).
Most people also know that is not a style of play that is going to take a team very far in the long run. As much as Nelson claims he values defense, the lineups he plays suggest otherwise. He wants to score more than the other team. Fitz, the mouthpiece, pushes it on his radio show by saying it doesn’t matter how many points you allow as long as you score more. Too bad the team isn’t good enough to stop their opponents when they go into scoring droughts of their own.
Meanwhile, Stephen Jackson just wants to win. That’s cool. I want the team to win, too. I want a team that’s good enough to win without playing what’s basically gimmick basketball, but that hasn’t been possible in Oakland since Rick Barry’s days.
So, coming off a bad season the Warriors apparently make overtures that they’re finally going to go out and get someone legit to help out. This, predictably, fails. It probably has to do with Curry falling to them and then Nelson deciding he’d rather have the undersized Curry playing for him instead of, say, Amare.
Then, seeing the writing on the wall that this team won’t be much different than it’s been since Baron Davis was basically shown the door and “We Believe” was systematically dismantled (though that had begun before Davis left), Jackson flips.
Can’t blame him for being upset. Can sure as hell blame him for how he’s handled it in public, basically reversing all opinions he’d worked so hard to cultivate in restoring his image. Poof. All thrown away in the course of a few weeks as he acts like a petulant child throwing an ongoing temper tantrum.
Good teams get better by building a strong core and adding to it with key role players, which are always easier to find. The teams that are always at the top have it easier because people want to play for them. The Warriors do it backwards, finding nice role players without being able to go out and land a true star. People avoid the Warriors and only career losers like Maggette will sign with them because they just want the money and a chance to get their stats.
Jackson sees they might get that star, fail to do it and keep their maybe-he’ll-be-the-new-PG-but-maybe-he-won’t in Curry instead, and Jackson wants out, wants to go to a team that actually has a clue. He wants to win and doesn’t see the Warriors fully committed to that. Neither do I. Two years after being touched at becoming a team captain, Don’t Call Me Captain Jack Any More refuses to sink with the ship.
Still, if it helps hasten the inevitable departure of Cohan and Rowell, who Jackson played for the fools they are (though I think he was sincere at the time), it will be a net win in the long run for the Warriors and the fans. It may cost them in the short term if fans stay away from the arena, possibly losing people with promise like Randolph and Morrow, but you know what they say about broken eggs and omelets.
So to Stephen Jackson I say: thank you and please go away. You’re right and you’re wrong at the same time, for different reasons.