Mark Jackson won plenty of games on the court as an NBA player. He called plenty of them from the announcers’ chair courtside over the last few years. Now Jackson can say he’s won from the bench, as his Golden State Warriors notched their first victory with him at the helm with a win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Jackson says it’s a byproduct of the culture change that he’s championed since taking the job. He says that’s still a work in progress, but it’s pretty clear that something has changed in the mentality of the Warriors.
Mark Jackson joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with The Drive to discuss Steph Curry’s ankle, getting his first victory as a coach, setting the tone from his first press conference, where the process is with the culture change, a new defensive mentality and how playing and announcing set him up for success as a coach.
What’s the latest on Steph Curry and his ankle?:
“Steph had an MRI today and results were negative. … Once again going through round-the-clock treatment.”
How good did it feel to get that first win?:
“As a team, that really has not tasted great success in the last 17 years or so, I think it’s so important for us to recognize what we’re doing, results will come when we’ve put it to the test. As far as when you work hard, when you defend, it’s a one thing when you preach it, but when you preach it and get results, the results speak volumes. I think the guys have raised the bar as far as what’s expected of them, what they can do individually and collectively, and now, as a team, as a unit, we expect that.”
On pointing out his stars’ flaws on the court and saying they could no longer make those mistakes at his very first press conference:
“It was important for me, from the beginning, the first time I had the opportunity to say those things, because people knew me as a former player, they knew me as an announcer, some of them knew me as an associate. … I had to let them know that, as a head coach, there were things that were no longer going to be accepted. It’s nothing personal, but I just have an inside track on what it takes to win in this league because I was able to win and I was also unfortunate enough to have some losing situations. … I just was trying to send a message loud and clear.”
Where are you at in the process of changing the culture?:
“In being quite honest with you, I said that in the opening press conference, and the culture has changed. The guys in uniform will tell you that; the people that work in the front office will tell you that. It’s a different Golden State Warriors organization and we’re extremely proud about it. The work is not complete, but the process has began. … It’s a different, different environment, and you’ve got to give those guys credit.”
What are some tangible examples of what you mean by changing the culture?:
“Just being professional, working hard, competing, paying attention to detail defensively and offensively, understanding what it takes. You can’t just look to outscore people every single game. There’s going to be nights where defensively or offensively you’re struggling. … You can do all the little things to put yourself in position to win every single night. This is a team that has really taken pride on the defensive end and bought in and don’t mind being held accountable. I’ve got leaders who people didn’t believe were leaders. I have guys high-fiving and celebrating who people thought couldn’t stand each other. All these guys needed was an opportunity to embrace a culture change and they’ve done it.”
How far were they from that defensive mentality when you took over?:
“This is a team that, in the past, for whatever reason, they’ve been built on winning on the offensive end. It’s been through my experience that you’re not going to win over the long haul doing it offensively. … From Day One, we’ve practiced defense, we’ve preached defense … and they’ve been pretty open to it.”
How has being a former player and announcer impacted you now as a coach?:
“Playing 17 years, playing for five Hall of Fame coaches, and a sixth if you include coach Rick Pitino, who will be in the Hall of Fame at some point really soon, watching those guys, stealing from them what to do and even in some cases looking at some things that I would have certainly done differently, put me in position to become a head coach in this league. … And then, announcing games, having the best teams with the best coaches, being in playoff situations, sitting in the locker room or the dressing room or the offices … of the best coaches in the game … I sat with them and was paid for it. I learned so much, and it put me in position to be able to have my own team.”