Warriors' Lacob, Myers Must Win Or Become "League-Wide Embarrassments"
With the Warriors having fired coach Mark Jackson yesterday, “everything rides on the next decision, and particularly” on co-Owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers, according to Tim Kawakami of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Either the Warriors “hire a provably better coach, and they win at the highest level, or they will be league-wide embarrassments.” Lacob and Myers “basically acknowledged the gamble.” The front office is “wagering that it was a bigger part of the franchise turnaround than Jackson was.” The “pressure is on” Lacob, Myers, Advisor Jerry West and the rest of the team’s management. The entire franchise is “under scrutiny now and their quest to prove that they didn’t just screw up the best thing that has happened in several decades” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/7). In Oakland, Marcus Thompson II writes Warriors management is “now at a critical juncture.” The upward trajectory of the franchise is “now in jeopardy.” Thompson: “The Warriors are looking to build a new arena, in a new city, with a newly energized fan base. And all that is virtually on the line if this decision comes back to bite them." Make “no mistake about it, this crossroads is courtesy” of Lacob and Myers. If the firing works, Lacob and Myers are “geniuses, gutsy visionaries.” But if it does not, they “become in-the-way managers holding the team back” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/7).
JAX SPEAKS: Jackson appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show" this morning. He said of rumored conflict between he and team execs, "I don’t believe that. I understand everything that they’re saying at the end of the day." He added, "You know who I am. You’ve been around me. You watch how I handle people and who I am. It doesn’t match a lot of the things being said.” Patrick asked Jackson if Warriors management tried to "sabotage" their relationship. Jackson said, "This is big business and it certainly was a lot of stuff told and lied about and leaked and some of it wound up ultimately being true, as far as my job being at risk and friction and people believing that I didn’t have relationships and all of that." Jackson: "There is a way to do things and when people lie against you and people make up stories, at the end of the day, the evidence against it is how you conduct yourself" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/7).
MARCHING ORDERS: CSNBayArea.com’s Ray Ratto said, “It’s not a question of justification. It’s a question of who runs the operation. Ultimately, it’s Joe Lacob. This was Joe Lacob’s firing.” Ratto: “Jackson didn’t pay enough attention to those above and beside him and the fact that he didn’t trust Lacob, when Lacob didn’t come across with the contract extension and they didn’t communicate very well” (“Yahoo Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 5/6). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Colin McGowan wrote Lacob was “wishy-washy” about Jackson returning for a fourth season despite winning 51 games. To Lacob's credit, he “was decisive.” Now he and Myers are “going to have to explain to a disappointed squad why they think someone … is a better fir for the organization” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 5/6). CSNBAYAREA.com’s Monte Poole wrote, “This move establishes Lacob as among those team owners who are willing to put themselves -- and their decisions -- directly under the spotlight” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/6). Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Monte Poole added, “This was about much more than basketball. … And Joe Lacob essentially conceded that much.” Poole: “It’s not about the basketball part as much as it is about the way Mark dealt with people within the building.” Poole said, “This was Lacob’s call all the way, just like it was his hiring" (“Yahoo Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 5/6). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said "you can't fire Jackson on his record" so it has to be "about not seeing eye-to-eye with ownership" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/6).
POTENTIAL FALLOUT: In S.F., Scott Ostler writes Lacob “will hope the fans see his side: a dynamic, caring owner trying to cope with an increasingly truculent head coach who could accept no criticism and wasn't doing all he could do to win.” Ostler: “Sorry, Joe. What fans see is the Captain of the Love Boat being keel-hauled by a meddling owner who thinks he knows hoops” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/7). ESPN's Chris Broussard said of Jackson's dismissal, "A lot of people around the league are stunned. They don't think it's really right" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/6). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the Warriors could "regret" firing Jackson, but it "depends on who they wind up hiring." Wilbon: “It just seems like … Lacob wants a different guy. I don’t know what that means. He wants a guy that lives close to him, plays golf with him, has the same other interests socially? I don’t understand why that matters because Mark Jackson did one hell of a job" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/6). NBA TV’s Stu Jackson: “The message is clear here, the past couple years, that it’s no longer adequate for a coach in the NBA, right or wrong, to just simply win games. You have to win games and also be a part of the total picture of a franchise and clearly, this is a relationship that broke down” (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 5/6).
CLASH OF VALUES? In S.F., Ann Killion writes, “I’ve often wondered how comfortable it was for Jackson and team president Rick Welts to co-exist in the same organization.” Welts is openly gay, and Jackson is a “fundamental Christian” and “wasn’t shy about letting people know his views.” However, Jackson had been “extorted by a stripper a few years back,” and had an associate of his “arrested on drug trafficking charges.” Those issues “led to charges of hypocrisy by a man who thumped the bible as often as possible.” Killion: “None of this was quite Donald Sterling-esque. But it was probably not the image the Warriors wanted to project, especially as they lobbied hard to move" to S.F. (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/7).
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Lacob was asked whether he is a “tough guy to work for.” He said, “I’m very careful, because I know people are watching me. I don’t say negative things about a coach on the floor. … I certainly try not to do that, and I don’t mean to do that if I do do it.” Lacob said of West’s influence, “Jerry has the same influence he had when he came in. … He deserves to be listened to. Anyone who doesn’t is crazy.” Lacob added, “We don’t do everything he suggests or says, and that’s the role. … Now, he does react. He does get upset over certain things. He’s emotional, but that has nothing to do with what he recommends or what influence he has. Honestly, he’s been a spectacular resource for us.” Lacob: “He helps us with sponsorships and in the community. Actually, a lot. He’s been a great resource” (SFGATE.com, 6/6).