ESPN announced today that Mark Jackson is returning to broadcasting after three years of coaching the Golden State Warriors, making his 2014 NBA Playoffs debut with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
And with Jackson sitting right next to Jeff Van Gundy - and outspoken critic of the notion that Jackson was even on the hot seat at all - we can be almost certain that there will be some mention of the drama surrounding his departure from Golden State even if Jackson continues to offer elusive answers.
Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson will call the NBA Finals for ESPN/ABC.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 17, 2014
The announced reunion with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen comes amid rumors that Jackson was added to the New York Knicks' short list for their coaching vacancy, as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Daily News.
According to the source, that means Mark Jackson is on Jackson’s tentative list that once included just one name...Hiring Mark Jackson, the former St. John’s star and Brooklyn native, would be the splashy move for Phil Jackson to save face after Kerr left him at the altar...Jackson could make more sense. He was runner-up to Mike D’Antoni in the Knicks’ last full-fledged coaching search and has privately yearned to coach at the Garden.
In a telling quote before his Garden coaching debut in 2012-13, Jackson said, "These are things I thought about as a kid, I dreamt about as a kid. It’s not a throwaway thing. It’s a ‘wow’ moment. That’s what makes it an emotional thing, not coaching the game, but as a kid: ‘Who woulda thunk it?’"
Although some are saying the multi-year ESPN contract comes as a surprise given that Jackson is in the mix for the Knicks job (if not others), one has to figure that he has some kind of clause to get out of the contract if a coaching opportunity comes along.
Smart move by Jackson to go back to ESPN. Great platform to rebuild his name/favor nationally
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 17, 2014
While some are dreading the catchphrases and cliches that made him the subject of jokes around the blogosphere when the Warriors initially hired him, it might be interesting to see if his experience actually coaching a team gives him a bit more insight to contribute as a broadcaster this time around. Not that the cliches weren't a feature of his Warriors' pressers, but let's be optimistic if we're going to have to watch him either way.
For more on Jackson's exit from the Warriors, check out our storystream following the news.