If you agree with San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami that this is "a major threshold moment" for the Golden State Warriors, then it's difficult to overstate the significance of the flurry of media attention over the last 36 hours or so.
Not long after learning that point guard-turned-broadcaster Mark Jackson would be taking the reigns of the team as its next head coach, we learned that New Orleans Hornets assistant Mike Malone would be joining his staff and then came the rumor of an Andre Iguodala for Monta Ellis trade.
But obviously, headlining everything is Jackson's lack of coaching experience as he makes the relatively rare transition from broadcast booth to sideline. The different reactions to everything have provided some interesting food for thought as we continue to debate whether he's ready to take the Warriors back to the playoffs.
Mark Jackson: Who will he be as a coach?
Jerry West: On Mark Jackson, Lacob, Malone, the latest Ellis report, and more | Talking Points
Kawakami reports that Doc Rivers says "he learned more from being in these production meetings with coaches, watch them go over things, than he would as assistant coach."
Golden State taking chance that Donnie Walsh and Knicks wouldn't by hiring Mark Jackson as coach
Rivers himself echoed a similar sentiment in an article by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: "I had a coach tell me, 'You didn't pay your dues, you never coached,'" Rivers said. "No, I was never an assistant. That's true. But I did pay my dues. When I was playing all those years in the NBA, I was paying my dues. Mark was doing the same thing."
Donnie Walsh Had Mark Jackson Pegged as Future Coach - NYTimes.com
But even in praising Mark Jackson as a potentially strong NBA coach, former New York Knicks executive Donnie Walsh mentioned reservations about putting an inexperienced coach in a situation that was expected to involve a lot of losing, which could be considered relevant to the Warriors: "Had Mike not shook loose from Phoenix, I probably would have hired Mark," Walsh said in a telephone interview. "But I felt I had to put Mike over Mark because he was a proven N.B.A. coach. "What I told Mike when I interviewed him was that we were going to lose for two years until we got things straightened out with the cap. I didn’t think it was fair to put a first-time coach in that situation. You know, it was a judgment call."
The Daily Madden " CBS San Francisco
On his daily KCBS radio spot, John Madden - who went the opposite direction, from coaching the Oakland Raiders to broadcasting for Fox - took it a step further, saying that he feels there isn't much carryover between broadcasting and coaching before launching into a litany of concerns: "I did both and...I'll tell you this: when I did television I worked hard. But I didn't work 10% as hard as I worked when I was a coach...It's not close. And there's not much carryover. And I think anyone that believes there is is stepping into something they don't want to and it's a big, big mistake."
Mark Jackson joins the Warriors’ new hierarchy of big personalities | Talking Points
In any event, Kawakami dropped an important piece of insight, writing that, "New executive board member Jerry West emphasized that Lacob felt a strong chemistry with Jackson, which was the most important thing for the Warriors to find in a coach." Knowing that there's some synergy between coach, front office, and ownership is definitely huge for the organization (see Blazers, 2009-11).
Steinmetz: Lacob's moves made with eye on free agency
And Matt Steinmetz adds that the chemistry extends to players, particularly potential free agent acquisitions: "You want to know why Jackson is a better coach for the Warriors than Keith Smart in Lacob's eyes? Because Lacob believes Jackson has a better chance to be a lure for players than Smart, plain and simple. Say what you want about Jackson, he is someone who many NBA players respect -- not just for playing 17 seasons in the league but because he has become a strong voice on basketball matters -- because of the forum he has on ABC and ESPN."
So what's most interesting about the unfolding response to Jackson's hire?
Whatever we feel about it, there appears to be a vast gulf in opinion between the fans and media that have absorbed Jackson on television vs. the coaches, executives, and players that talk to him in private. It's hard to recall a coach in recent history whose hiring not only drew such a wide range of responses, but also completely opposing opinions about his basketball acumen.
Why Mark Jackson as coach might work: Players love it | ProBasketballTalk
While everyone from Rivers to Walsh to Jeff Van Gundy to Nate Thurmond (and obviously Larry Riley) have praised Jackson's basketball acumen, Kurt Helin describes that fans have come to expect pretty much the exact opposite: "...when Jackson says something foolish — like in Game 3 when he suggested Dallas should stop letting Dwyane Wade shoot so many open jumpers and make one of the best penetrators in the league but the ball on the floor — you can bet twitter will light up with "that’s your coach, Warriors" comments."
The Interview That Got Mark Jackson The Warriors' Head Coach Job - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
Tom Ziller seemed to perfectly illustrate fan sentiment about Jackson in his mock interview that got him the coaching job.
Mark Jackson as Head Coach: Fingers Crossed, Again | Fast Break
Kawakami further describes why that fan sentiment that Jackson is "foolish" is so troubling for this particular franchise: "... this smacks a little bit of the time-honored Warriors tradition of settling for the consolation prize...And when you promise to make a splash in the coaching hunt, you want more than a guy most well known for his announcing catch phrases."
What Does the Coaching Record of other Broadcasters Say about ABC/ ESPN Analyst Mark Jackson's Chances for Success with the Golden State Warriors? - Golden State Of Mind
GSOM community member bradyk2 makes a point about public perception vs. private interactions that's worthy of consideration: "The reality is, the viewer sees Breen as a TV personality, because that’s what he’s known for, so the producer has him feed questions to the other guys, even though he may be very knowledgeable himself. The viewer sees Van Gundy as a coach, because that’s what he’s known for, so the producer has him talk about X’s and O’s. And the viewer sees Jackson as a player, because that’s what he’s known for, so the producer has him talk about things such as player mentality and locker room intensity, which aren’t as intellectual sounding as X’s and O’s. This is marketing, and it’s completely dictated by the producers."
Are they going for style over substance?
SF Chronicle columnist Gwen Knapp nicely summarizes why this particular difference about humor vs. basketball acumen might play an important role in Jackson's coaching success: "Humor has been known to help a coach, and the spirit of "you're better than that" might resonate with young players more than harsh feedback. In pro sports, half the job is avoiding the big tune-out from players inclined to offer respect grudgingly. Jackson's years as a player might help him keep ears open, but too much shtick tends to wear out athletes quickly.
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The obvious reason for such a wide range of responses about whether his particular type of experience is sufficient and whether he even possesses the basketball acumen to succeed as a head coach is that he has no concrete coaching record to base opinions on.
And it's reasonable to expect that people will continue to hold on to their opinions until Jackson's record provides enough evidence to counter one side or the other.