The Golden State Warriors release announcing that Mark Jackson has been "relieved of duty" has a quote from GM Bob Myers saying that, "...as an organization, we simply feel it's best to move in a different direction at this time."
Yet from an outsider's perspective, it's really difficult to get excited about the Golden State Warriors firing coach Mark Jackson after leading a beleaguered Golden State Warriors franchise to 51 wins and consecutive playoff berths.
When is JVG calling another playoff game? Joe and Kirk Lacob are going to get the business.— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) May 6, 2014
That's not at all to say that shiny results in the face of years of ineptitude should be privileged over a reportedly dysfunctional process but to admit that there's considerable risk involved in replacing a coach that helped to "elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago", as phrased in the release. The risk here - that even the biggest Jackson detractors have to acknowledge - is that Jackson has a special ability to connect with players and get results, which makes replacing him and changing the culture especially difficult as described well by Adam Lauridsen after Game 7.
...management will need to find someone with a rare blend of inspirational appeal and wonkish strategic thinking. Curry’s post-game comments on his love for playing under Jackson should at least give Lacob and others pause in deciding what to do next. A superior Xs and Os coach could find himself — like Jackson — facing down the perception of underachievement if players don’t fight as hard as they have the last two years for Jackson. The fact that Jackson brought this team within minutes of beating the Clippers speaks volumes to just how valuable a cohesive and motivated team can be, even when it’s playing with an overall talent disadvantage.
Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry made a similar point in his piece about what makes the Splash Brothers so effective by writing that Jackson's tenure can hardly be considered a "failure" in any normal sense of the term: when you look back at the history of this franchise, Jackson has accomplished more than the vast majority of his predecessors.
Obviously, this move was far more about attempting to cleanse the organization of a situation turning increasingly rotten given that the entire staff was fired, but it will be really hard to evaluate this decision until we a) see who they find as a replacement and b) how well he performs in his first three seasons - we have almost three decades of Warriors history proving that what Jackson has accomplished is extremely difficult and taking another step forward is not easy.
And that might include retaining the team's own free agents and attracting others.
Green on next coach: "You never know if a coach will relate to you the way he did. You never know if another coach ..."— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 6, 2014
Green on next coach: "... is going to respect you the way he did. Coach rode with us. He was down for us."— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 6, 2014
None of this is to say that Jackson was without flaws but that there has to be some anxiety about replacing Jackson with another totally unproven guy or a coach previously described as "...overly negative at times and relentless with his coaching style."
Without even defending Jackson and what transpired within the organization in his time, this move brings far more uncertainty than the average coaching change given the circumstances.
For more on this developing story, check out our storystream about Mark Jackson's performance this season.