Gods, Devils and Dysfunction: The Truth About Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson turned out to be a metaphorical cancer, creating his own devils within the Warriors organization as he fought to rally his players around him. This is according to non-management sources from within the Warriors locker room (as recently as Saturday’s Game 7 season finale in Los Angeles) who expressed a desire to tell “the real story” behind Jackson’s dismissal. This is their account.
Bob Myers had to fire Jackson. You’ll note that I said Myers, not Joe Lacob. This was a decision Myers made, but everyone involved supported that choice. 100 percent.
Jackson’s firing had nothing to do with living in Los Angeles or not getting along with Kirk Lacob.
Outside of the conscious or unconscious bias that exists in our society when a powerful white male (Lacob) hires and supervises a minority (Jackson), this decision was not driven by race. And while religion was a factor in Jackson’s actions, it was not the reason Jackson was fired.
Jackson, in conjunction with Lindsey Hunter and Pete Myers, worked to create false enemies within the Warriors organization as a means to motivate his players and provide built-in excuses if he failed.
Well, he failed. And today’s media tour has been a convenient outlet for his built-in excuses.
When hired, Jackson claimed he was creating a new culture; that “things be changin’ in the Bay Area.” However, outside of his inner circle, he was creating a culture of fear. Warriors staff members were afraid to speak with Jackson, who had proven over and over that he would be friendly to your face and rip you behind your back. If you weren’t in his inner circle, you were the enemy. And he made sure the players got that message.
He worked to convince players that he was the only one who believed in them. He created an “us against the world” mentality. He guaranteed a playoff appearance in his first season; a perfect example of a leader creating a big hairy audacious goal that is near impossible to reach. But it set a tone.
At first, the “us against them” was the entire organization against those outside of it. In the beginning, Jackson inspired his players to believe they were better than they were. He was a huge positive in their lives both on and off the court. Many players performed better because of Jackson. Last season, it was Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. No doubt, Jackson played a major role in Steph Curry’s growth into stardom. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson improved dramatically under Jackson.
But it became obvious over time that it was all about Jackson and his belief in the players. The “us” became Jackson and his players and the “them” was everyone else – including Warriors management and some of his coaches. Some players began to realize that it was unrealistic that those outside of Jackson’s inner circle would not want them to succeed. Would the organization really want players to fail just so they could fire Jackson? That was the message players were receiving. It didn’t make sense.
When management became aware of this problem, Jackson increased his efforts and created a full-blown campaign to discredit them amongst the players. His inner-circle spent so much time on this smear campaign, they spent less time making the team better.
The coaching staff showed signs of being unprepared. There were times Pete Myers would freestyle plays on his way out of the locker room at halftime; pitching “what-ifs” to the staff as the third quarter was about to begin.
Some of the players began to see through Jackson’s false bravado. The team was winning, but how much could be attributed to Jackson’s motivational tactics versus the fact that this was a talented group of players who were overcoming the coaching staff’s lack of preparation and game planning. Some players began to lose faith in their leader.
Near the end of the season, this negativity was hard to ignore. Everyone involved behind closed doors could feel the awkward culture that Jackson had created. Players were distracted by Jackson’s “us against them” beef with management. It was creating division within the organization and impacted their play on the court. How could it not?
This new information makes it hard to discredit stories about Mark Jackson creating a coup in the locker room against John Stockton late in his career with the Utah Jazz.
He has a history of this behavior. It is who he is – create devils as a means to make others bend to your will and provide built-in reasons for things going wrong.
Things have gone wrong and now he’s going after those devils he created.