It’s been eight years since ESPN analyst Mark Jackson last roamed the sidelines as a head coach, as he was fired after the Warriors lost in Game 7 of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Jackson has been linked to several coaching vacancies in the meantime, including the Kings and Lakers in 2022.
While the Kings opted to go in a different direction, Jackson is still in play for the Lakers’ opening, a high-profile job that comes with the opportunity to coach LeBron James on one of the league’s most historic franchises in one of the biggest markets in sports.
MORE: Terry Stotts, Mark Jackson among Lakers coaching candidates
With a 121-109 (.526) regular-season record and a 9-10 postseason record over his first three seasons as a head coach, why has it taken so long for Jackson to get another opportunity?
Look back at how Jackson has gotten to where he is today.
Timeline of Mark Jackson’s coaching interviews
After the Warriors relieved Jackson of his coaching duties in 2014, he returned to the sidelines as a broadcaster, but it didn’t take long for his name to surface in coaching discussions.
April 2016: Jackson reportedly interviews for the Timberwolves coaching vacancy but the franchise ultimately opts to hire Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations one day after the initial Jackson reports.
Report surface that Jackson will also interview for the Knicks coaching vacancy, but the franchise elects to hire Jeff Hornacek.
April 2018: Jackson again interviews for the Knicks head coaching positionwhich ultimately goes to David Fizdale.
April 2022: Jackson emerges as a candidate for head coach vacancies with the Kings and Lakers.
After interviewing with the KingsJackson misses out on the opportunity as Sacramento hires Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown.
While his name is still linked to the Lakers opening, Jackson is now reportedly being linked to a head coaching vacancy with the Hornets.
Why hasn’t Mark Jackson gotten another coaching opportunity?
Looking back, Jackson’s records suggest he could have gotten another shot over the last eight years.
Jackson led the Warriors to improved records each season, with the team going 23-43 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, 47-35 in the 2012-13 campaign and 51-31 in the 2013-14 season, which would be his last as a coach. More than the records, Jackson is credited with installing some of the principles that Steve Kerr built upon to lead the Warriors to three NBA titles.
While hosting his podcast, Draymond Green spoke highly of his time playing under Jackson, saying “I felt like Coach Jackson — one thing that he was great at is he breathed confidence into guys and I think that was huge to our growth.”
Stephen Curry, who was Green’s guest on the show, continued the “Mark Jackson underrated” segment by lauding Jackson’s motivational efforts while acknowledging they could be a double-edged sword.
“He almost would use different motivations that weren’t even real … I might make something up in terms of there (being) some enemy that doesn’t even exist but I’m gonna make sure everybody is on the same page against whatever that is.”
When it comes to his tactics, there are a number of reported instances in which these made-up enemies fostered an unhealthy “us as against the world” mentality that attempted to pit the players against Warriors executives, ownership and sometimes their teammates.
According to Warriors owner Joe Lacob, Jackson fell out of favor with the majority of employees in the Warriors organization, saying “part of it was that (Jackson) couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization. And look, he did a great job, and I’ll always compliment him in many respects, but you can’t have 200 people in the organization not like you.”
Jackson, an ordained minister, reportedly responded to Lacob through a sermon given to the congregation at his church.
During his tenure with the Warriors, Jackson failed to see eye-to-eye with assistants Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman, both of whom he appointed.
As a result, Jackson demoted Scalabrine to the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate, while Erman was fired for secretly taping conversations between Warriors coaches and players for unknown reasons, but Erman quickly landed another position.
Festus Ezeli controversy
When Jackson and the Warriors finished with a 51-31 record in the 2013-14 season, they did so without second-year center Festus Ezeli, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.
According to a 2014 report from Grantland, Jackson and the staff told the players that Ezeli was cheering for them to lose in order to make himself look better, an accusation that caused players to confront Ezeli.
Ezeli, who denied the accusations, was reportedly brought to tears when he was confronted, adding to the problematic environment with the Warriors, who would get eliminated in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Eight years have passed since Jackson’s last coaching opportunity and the landscape of the NBA game has changed on numerous fronts, but has Jackson?
Jackson has spent each of the last eight seasons calling the highest-profile NBA matchups for ESPN and ABC, including the NBA Finals. With a firsthand view of the game’s evolution, Jackson is not detached from the modern-day game and, if adaptable, could blend what he’s learned from his eight years away upon a potential return.
As a result of Jackson’s widely-reported issues as a leader, his areas of needed improvement are clear and are likely the topic of discussion in his numerous job interviews for coaching vacancies.