Q&A with Mark Jackson -- Part 2

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Q&A with Mark Jackson -- Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three-part series with Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

In case you missed it, here is Part 1 of Matt Steinmetz's conversation with the first-year head coach.

Question: Were coming up on the one-year anniversary of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber officially taking over the team. Did you meet them before the interview process?Mark Jackson: I didnt meet them. I could remember at the end of the season, doing a Warriors game (for television) where I saw Joe from a distance. But I never met him, sitting on the front row, excited, enthusiastic. I can remember sitting there calling a game saying man, this is a great situation.You have a passionate owner looking to change things, excellent young talent, an incredible fan base, a great area. I thought this was pretty special. But I didnt meet either one of them, personally, until the interview process.Question: And meeting them lived up to that?Mark Jackson: Absolutely. I tell people and hes (Lacob) been quite honest about believing that I was his guy during the meeting. And after the meeting, I felt the exact same way. Sitting at the table talking to him, it was love at first sight. As far as the passion, the commitment, the belief, the vision, we were totally into it.Question: What did you think of the Jim Harbaugh handshake thing?Mark Jackson: Hes done a great job. Both guys in this area have done a great job making their teams relavant. Im proud to be part of this area and watching the work that theyve done. I totally understand the edge of a head coach, basically saying its us against them.Obviously, its not the way to do things. But as a player, Im thinking Yeah, thats my coach and thats why I love him and thats why Im ready to run through a wall for him. So, I can relate, I can appreciate. At the same time, thats not the way to do it. Hes acknowledged it. But I love his edge and I love the way hes going about coaching his team.Question: What do you think your sideline demeanor will be like?Mark Jackson: Calm Im not going to be cussing any referees out. Thats not going to happen. Youll never see that. Professional and demanding. I wont be cussing my players out. Im going to treat guys with respect and Im going to hold them accountable, and were going to be in this thing together.Question: Will you be standing up the whole time?Mark Jackson: I dont know. No, I do know. Im not going to be standing up the whole time. If Im standing up it will probably be just to get loose a little bit. If Im sitting down it will be just to get a rest.Ill be pretty calm and relaxed over there. I truly believe that you coach the guys in practice and work on things and put them in position -- sort of like Phil Jackson only he goes a little bit overboard. Hes a little too relaxed over there.But you let the guys play the game. So it will be a combination. But Im going to be excited. We showed this I had the (video coordinator) put together clips of winning plays. And one thing I watched was about 10 or 12 offensive fouls, rotations, where defensively and it was hard to find our guys got it done in the past.And as we watched it and you look at the bench and it was almost like (coaches and players were ambivalent). I told the guys I really dont care what the other coaches in this league feel about me as a coach. Whether Im too exited, too laid back. I dont care. I dont work for them. I could care less. But we, collectively, will celebrate those kinds of plays.As a team and as a staff we will be up, recognizing winning plays. And that may be against what the norm is. But Im not the norm.Question: So you dont use profanity at all?Mark Jackson: I havent said a cuss word in over 20 years.Question: So you know exactly when you stopped using profanity?Mark Jackson: I would say probably 1989. Two years into the league maybe. My kids have never heard me utter a cuss word. So Im not going to cuss anybody out. Its just not going to happen.Question: Are practices open to the media?Mark Jackson: Great question. No. There will be segments of practice when the media will be allowed in. I was born during the day but not yesterday. There will be segments of the practice when the media can come in.Question: Free throw only?Mark Jackson: Depends on how you guys are writing it. No, it will probably be more than that. Im a guy who understands the media side and what your guys job entails. And Im going to be more than happy to make life as easy for you guys as possible. Im not here to be a jerk.Question: Tell me how you came to know coach (Darren) Ermann?Mark Jackson: Doing a lot of Celtics games (as analyst). Hes a Louisville guy (Jacksons son attends Louisville). I spent a lot of times before Celtics games, talking to (Brian Scalabrine), who was friends with Erman. And every time we would talk, Erman would be there. So I talked to Doc Rivers about him, talked to Tom Thibodeau about him.Both guys raved about him, and we brought him in, interviewed him. And really hired him during the interview. Just absolutely passionate, a different guy, committed.He loves the game of basketball. There are certain reasons why you hire a person and certain reasons why you dont. He was absolutely funny. If he never gave me anything basketball-wise, which hes going to, hes still a heck of a hire. He keeps it light. A million stories. Funny. If we had a camera rolling during the interview you guys would say: you said that during the interview? Just very comical. But the guy is as hard of a worker as Ive been around.One of the first assignments I gave him by the time a 24-hour period was over he had immediately gotten back to me and was done. And it wasnt an easy thing. This guy gets it. Really a great guy who wants to be a great coach. Like I said, I pretty much hired him on the spot.Question: Can you tell us anything about the assignment?Mark Jackson: I gave him an assignment to come up with a slogan for us as a basketball team -- something to live by from Day 1. And I had been tossing and turning and obviously didnt want it to be corny. You like some things, you sort of love some things and he sent me something early the next day and it was like: That was it. Hes the brains behind it and it was a home run.Question: Well Mark Jackson: Obviously, if I give it to you guys the players wont know it.Question: Will it be all over the place?Mark Jackson: It will be all over. It will be in my offices, it will be in the locker room, it will be at the facility. I dont want to build it up like its Dr. (Martin Luther) Kings speech. But it sums up pretty much if we want to be successful whats got to be the mindset.

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.

Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.

“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.

Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.

It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.

“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.

When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.

Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.

Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).

When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.

The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.

“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”

 

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson spent nearly eight minutes Saturday answering a variety of questions, many of which were related to his diminished offense this postseason and his primary defensive assignment in the upcoming NBA Finals.

Mired in a shooting slump, by his standards, the Warriors guard now has to confront the fabulous offensive arsenal of Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

As much as Thompson would love to rediscover his shooting touch in Game 1 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors may be more delighted if he can prevent Irving from finding his.

“I take pride in (playing) both sides of the ball, defense as equally as offense,” Thompson said after practice at the team’s downtown facility. “Whether or not my shot falls, I can always control that part of the game.”

The Warriors are undefeated (12-0) this postseason despite Thompson averaging only 14.4 points (compared to 22.3 in the regular season) on 38.3-percent shooting from the field (46.8 in the regular season), 36.4 percent beyond the arc (41.4 in the regular season).

That spotless postseason record is, in part, a reflection of Thompson’s work on defense. In all three rounds, he has guarded the opponent’s most dangerous backcourt player.

“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s helped us win games,” acting head coach Mike Brown said.

Next up for Thompson is Irving, who has hit game-winning shots in each of the last two times Cleveland has beaten the Warriors, a 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2015 Finals and a midrange fadeaway jumper last Christmas Day at Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving has played well this postseason but lately has lifted his game to another level. In the five-game Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Irving averaged 25.8 points per game, while shooting 62.2 percent.

He was particularly dazzling as the Cavs finished off the Celtics in Games 4 and 5, averaging 33.0 points on 64.9-percent shooting.

Irving’s recent run prompted Cleveland teammate LeBron James to label him one of the best one-on-one players of all time, a compliment Brown did not argue.

“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the 3, but that’s all they can do,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can dribble drive and finish at the rim, but that’s all they can do. Here’s a guy that can shoot the 3 off the catch-and-shoot, he could shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has medium-game pull-up. He has medium-game floater. And then he can get to the rim. And when he gets to the rim, he can finish in traffic among 7-footers.

“The way he puts English on the ball, how high he gets it off the glass when he needs to, all those things play into a factor of why he is one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time.”

Thompson said Irving’s offense “easily” belongs in the discussion with the league’s best, a group including the likes of MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, as well as Thompson’s teammate, reigning MVP Stephen Curry.

“He’s done it in big moments, so you’ve got to give him credit,” Thompson said of Irving. “Not only have I seen him do it in the pros, but I’ve seen him do it with the USA Team, too. Kyrie’s a very tough guard. We’ve got a game plan for him, and it’ll be fun.”

Thompson said he will try to crowd Irving, contest every shot and not be outhustled. Still, he concedes that may not be enough.

There is, however, one other thing Thompson cited that could impact Irving’s offensive production. Make him work on defense, something both Warriors guards have the ability to do.

For Thompson, that means finding his stroke.

“I’d like to see the ball go in the basket,” he said. “It has, just not as frequently as I want. But that means nothing now. That’s in the past. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot lights-out if we didn’t finish the job off.

“Now that we’re here, it’s a clean slate. It’s time to go. Can’t be worried about a few bad shooting games or the percentages when you went 12-0. You’ve just got to do what you can and have the intentions to win the game, not to go out there and score a number of points but to just go out there and win the game and make winning plays. That’s what I’m focused on.”