The Golden State Warriors have tied their NBA playoff series 2-2 with the veteran San Antonio Spurs winning game four in overtime 97-87. Both teams have won games on the opponents’ home court.  There is no question this playoff series is in the mode of ready, set, go! How did this unlikely Warriors team get on the Mark?

When the Golden State Warriors organization’s top brass made the decision to interview Mark Jackson for their head coaching vacancy they stepped out of the preverbal box. They interviewed a very good and knowledgeable ABC-NBA prime time analyst who was one of the best assist men in NBA history, but he had no resume as a coach at the high school, college or NBA level. Mark Jackson had no major coaching experience.  

Mark Jackson is an ordained minister who along with his wife is a pastor of a congregation. Not your normal prerequisite qualification for a head coach in the NBA.

 Mark Jackson broke the hidden perception that some have turned into law or should we say made the rule of thumb that very talented very good, great basketball players do not make good coaches. Despite Mark Jackson’s unique resume the Golden State Warriors continued their hiring process and Jackson was still a contender.

Can you imagine the atmosphere in the management’s coaching selection process meetings? Imagine those who are for Jackson as a candidate vs. those who opposed him vs. those who are still trying to figure out how Jackson is even a candidate for the job if for no other reason his lack of a coaching resume.

Jerry West is arguably the greatest general manager in NBA history and is currently a Golden State Warriors Executive Board Member. West’s most valuable contribution is as an adviser. If Jerry West said to the Golden State Warriors’ Co-Chairmen, Joe Lacob, CEO and Peter Guber, as well as, his other Executive Board Members and the Warrior’s  General Manager, Bob Myers, that hiring Mark Jackson was a risky and overall bad choice, they would have listened. It is obvious Jerry West gave his blessing on Mark Jackson as a capable candidate for the job.

Jerry West has had the opportunity to observe Mark Jackson the former player, minister, NBA analyst, as a person up close and from afar. Jackson’s reputation of creditability, integrity and knowledge of the game of basketball in his analyst suit is respected around the NBA. His stern demeanor and leadership qualities emanate through his presentations during his game analysis, comments and interviews. All that being said . . . would the Warriors pull the plug and hire Jackson . . . ?      

The Golden State Warriors ultimately hired Mark Jackson over every other contending coach who had resumes from here to Kalamazoo. The Warriors ended up stepping way out of the box in their bold, investment in a man and what they thought he could bring to their organization.

Mark Jackson is not your conventional, traditional person, nor is he the norm when it comes to coaching. He is definitely “Old School” in theory and upbringing but he is quick to tout more current players when it comes to who is the best in NBA history. 

 His opinions when he was an analyst and his perspective were generally point on; when he made his assessment of players playing the games, on the overall play-by-play status during the games themselves and regarding the coaches and their strategies.

Now, the Golden State Warriors are on the Mark. Jackson is the Head Coach and his coaching style begins to bare fruit as he cultivates and teaches a mindset of confidence. Simultaneously, he is developing a new basketball culture in Golden State.

Jackson directed this young group of players, who are now playing major minutes on his team into developing a championship level of execution in order to compete during the regular season with the goal of claiming a playoff birth. Jackson knew his team would be swimming up stream and would be going against conventional wisdom, but he  believes his young team, sprinkled with some veteran players can meet the demands and expectations Jackson believes this team can accomplish, whether they believed it or not at first.

During, the regular season Jackson appeared to be getting through to his team as they beat some quality teams. David Lee  played at an All-Star level making the All-Star team while Stephen Curry was putting up All-Star like numbers, but did not get the All-Star call. Andrew Bogut was showing signs of why he was once the # 1 overall pick. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry provided the toughness, veteran leadership and scoring the Warriors needed when Curry and other starters were on the bench.

Klay Thompson earned the green light confidence from his coach and he proved to teams that passed him by in the draft that they made a mistake. All Thompson needed was a vote of confidence and continuous optimism from his Coach Mark Jackson. Jackson has been consistent with those qualities as he pushes the mental aspect of the game to his troops.

Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green grew up fast and once again Jackson’s style encouraged these young men that they could compete on this level not one day but now. 

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have Dads, Dell Curry and Michael Thompson respectively, who played extensively in the NBA and obviously spoke a language to their sons about how the game of basketball should be played physically and mentally. Coach Jackson has benefited from his young stars; from their fathers the young players were taught much wisdom about their position in the game, and were familiar with the language of the speeches and the commitment Coach Jackson was asking from his young, shooting backcourt duo.

Coaching NBA players individually and as a team to “buy in” to a coach’s philosophy is no easy chore and many times can be a major reason a coach succeeds or fails in the NBA and at all levels of basketball. Coach Mark Jackson has an edifying perspective that he is teaching and his voice is being heard by his players. Jackson as Coach has not been given as much credit as he should receive but time will tell. The faith he has been able to instill in his players and this team overall speaks volumes even if many in the game and the media are holding their opinion on Mark Jackson. Right now he is on the mark.

When the Golden State Warriors closed out the higher seed Denver Nuggets, 92-88 in game six of the first round of the NBA playoffs they were officially ready and they were set.

Now that the Warriors have tied their second round NBA playoff series, 2-2 with the San Antonio Spurs winning a game in San Antonio they are officially on the Mark, Ready, Set Go . . .