Why Mark Jackson Was Stupidly Wrong When He Said Steph Curry ‘Is Hurting The Game’
It's a special kind of hell, or actually more like basketball purgatory, that Mark Jackson is living right now. It seems as if every time the Golden State Warriors are playing a big game on national TV, ESPN burdens him with the assignment. One may think that Jackson has requested these games, but one look at his face reveals that he doesn't want to be there. He'd rather be anywhere, doing anything else.
And do you blame him? For Jackson, who coached the Warriors from 2011 to 2014, who ushered in the rise of the Splash Brothers and led Golden State to two straight playoff appearances, this must be excruciating. Watching the Warriors win an NBA title, and then build a 29-1 record so far this season, Jackson must feel like ESPN is forcing him to watch another guy make out with his ex-girlfriend. Why do you put the man through this on a repeat basis, ESPN? It's the worst kind of emotional cruelty.
At the beginning Jackson handled it professionally, but soon the cracks began to show. He got saltier and saltier toward the Warriors, until on Christmas Day one could see the seams begin to split.
During the Warriors' win over the Cavaliers in Oakland, Jackson was particularly Scrooge-like -- first, co-analyst Jeff Van Gundy noted that the Warriors were by far the best team in the NBA, to which Jackson replied "Now you're reaching." Then, Jackson launched into a rather bizarre monologue which he began by saying that Stephen Curry "is hurting the game."
I was watching, and heard it as "ruining the game", but other reports have it as "hurting", so let's go with that. Jackson, via NBC Sports:
“To a degree, he’s hurting the game. And what I mean by that is I go into these high school gyms, I watch these kids, and the first thing they do is run to the three-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on your other aspects of the game. People don’t think that he’s just a knock-down shooter. That’s not why he’s the MVP. He’s a complete basketball player.”
Again, I heard it as "People think he's just a knock-down shooter", but whatever. What Jackson said was rather dumb. Curry responded to CSN Bay Area following the game, and here's an excerpt:
“I wish he would have phrased it just a little bit differently. I think I’m trying to inspire people to see the game differently in a positive way. I get what he was saying. There was a compliment in there. Knowing him personally, I think that’s what he meant."
First of all, if you're a high school or youth coach and your players "are running to the 3-point line", then that's on you. That should be eradicated on the first day of practice. Here's what you do -- if more than one or two players are taking shots you don't like, you take a needle and let the air out of the basketball, and spend the rest of practice scrimmaging with a flat ball: passing and cutting only. Or, just do defensive drills for an hour. Then see how the shot selection changes. And the next time someone takes a stupid shot, well, full-court line drills are always fun.
Jackson has to know this. So his comment has to be born of frustration -- multiple trips to watch the Warriors dribble and slam-dunk his heart. This is the team he helped to build, and he gets very little of the credit.
To be far to the Warriors, Jackson was more curmudgeonly as a coach than he's ever been as a broadcaster. He didn't get along with anyone in the front office, team president Joe Lacob wanted him gone, and just ask Andrew Bogut what he thought of him.
Maybe that's why Jackson isn't coaching somewhere. I don't know, IMO he certainly deserves another shot. But with his luck, he'll interview with the Lakers and lose the job to Luke Walton.
At the very least, ESPN should give Jackson a break and assign someone else to call the Warriors. It's the humane thing to do.
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