Jackson's job in jeopardy? Former colleague Van Gundy doesn't buy it


Former Knicks coach and current ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy has long been outspoken when it comes to articulating the difficulties of coaching in the NBA. Now, his friend and former colleague in the broadcast booth—Warriors coach Mark Jackson—is under apparent pressure with Golden State, and Van Gundy says that’s not quite fair.

Jackson has gotten the Warriors into the postseason for the first time since 1991-’92, and has delivered just the fifth 50-win season in franchis

e history. Yet, he has not received a contract extension, and speculation has held that, if Golden State does not have a successful playoff run, the team will look to replace him.

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“I’ve heard rumblings, I’ve seen the same reports as everybody else that Mark has got to win to keep his job, but I’ve never seen anybody willing to put their name to it,” Van Gundy said. “If it’s true, it’s utter nonsense.”

Van Gundy points out that, in Jackson’s first season two years ago, the Warriors were just 23-43, and had finished over .500 just two times in the previous 17 years. Jackson has gone 98-66 in his last two seasons, and won a first-round playoff series last year in an upset over Denver.

“If you’re a Warriors fan, management, owner, whatever, you can’t have that short a memory of where your organization has been,” Van Gundy said. “Your organization is one who has historically lost and lost big, and Mark has come in there in the lockout year (two seasons ago) and they lost due to (Stephen) Curry being injured a majority of the year, and they made a huge trade for Andrew Bogut, who was hurt, for Monta Ellis.

"They sacrificed that year, and then the last two years in a hyper-competitive Western Conference, they’ve put together back-to-back 40-plus win seasons for the first time in like—I don’t know, 20, 25 years. So you can’t lose sight of how far you’ve come.”

One of the complaints that has arisen about Jackson has been his rumored inability to carry out smooth relationships with his assistants. The team demoted popular assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to Santa Cruz of the D-League just weeks ago, and Jackson had reportedly stopped speaking to former assistant Mike Malone, now head coach of the Kings.

But he has also managed to get his team to play top-tier defense, something the Warriors had long struggled to do. They had finished 26th or worse in defensive efficiency for four straight years before Jackson got them bumped up to 14th in the NBA last year. They improved to fourth this year.

“I think anybody thinking that Mark Jackson hasn't done a superior job there in transforming them from a poor team to a very, very good team, and from a sieve defensively to an elite defensive team, just isn't paying attention,” Van Gundy said. “To think anyone could have done that with that team I think is making a mistake.

"I don’t buy it. I don’t think he is under any pressure to lose his job.  I’d be shocked – I just can’t see it. I just can’t see management and ownership not recognizing what a great job he’s done.”