Ex-Warriors assistant Brian Scalabrine describes ‘dysfunctional’ events leading up to Mark Jackson firing him

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine prepares to stand up while on the bench with head coach Mark Jackson, far right, while playing the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Jackson has reportedly forced the reassignment of assistant coach Scalabrine. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine prepares to stand up while on the bench with head coach Mark Jackson, far right, while playing the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Jackson forced the reassignment of assistant coach Scalabrine. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Former Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine detailed how he was forced off Mark Jackson’s staff during a tumultuous 2013-14 season in an interview on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski released Wednesday.

Scalabrine spoke about the events during and after the Warriors’ 99-90 loss at home on March 22 to the San Antonio Spurs, who were missing Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, that precipitated his dismissal.

Asked after the game if there was a reason for a longer-than-usual arrival to his postgame press conference, Jackson said, “No, just talking, that’s all…I was talking to my staff. We were just talking basketball. That’s all.”

Scalabrine shed light on how much more there was to it than that behind closed doors, with an argument that began at a halftime coaches’ meeting.

“The Spurs were my scout,” he said. “We talked about this one thing we needed to do, and I thought that (Andrew) Bogut did a good job of getting to where he needed to go. But in the coaches’ meeting – which just happens a lot, it’s just the way sports is – there’s a lot of bashing Bogut on this particular play. It’s really insignificant when you think about it. It’s a cumulative effect of all this.

“Me and one of the other assistant coaches, all I wanted to do was not jump to a conclusion. I wanted to watch the clip that we were talking about, which means watch the tape, right? And they wouldn’t put it on. So I was like, ‘Let’s just watch the tape, and let’s figure it out. I don’t want to argue. Let’s watch the tape.’

“Afterwards, it’s a big thing. Like we’re having a meeting afterwards, and we’re going to clear the air here (with Mark Jackson). He’s the leader, so we had this meeting of clearing the air, and the meeting was, it was like a bombardment of he’s trying to like get everyone to say that I’m a bad guy, and I’m a bad coach, and I should be off the staff. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but just imagine an emotional loss after the Spurs, and he goes to every coach and says, ‘Should Scalabrine be here? Is he a bad guy? Is he disrespectful?’ Or whatever he said. And what is an (assistant) coach going to do? You’re like some low-level coach, and Mark is your boss, and is Scalabrine disrespectful? Of course you’re going to say ‘yes.’ So every person was like ‘yeah.’ So then he brought in management and did the same thing. So we have a meeting where it’s me versus coaches and management. We’re talking about Bob (Myers) and the assistant GM and the owner’s son (Kirk Lacob). And my whole thing was like, ‘I think there’s a time and place for this, right? Can’t we do this in a different time?’”

Three days later, Scalabrine was essentially fired from Jackson’s staff and reassigned to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz following another meeting with Jackson.

“The Spurs thing I could understand,” Scalabrine said. “It was emotional, but three days later, my exit meeting with Mark is the most legendary thing of all of this. So I have to have this meeting, and I’ve got to basically according to Bob Myers – which I agree with him – I’ve got to apologize for what I said. At the end of the day, he is still the head coach. I am still the assistant coach, and I got to apologize for I guess assuming that we should watch tape (of the play), whatever. So I go in there and I apologize.

“Clearly you could see there was a lot of dysfunction, whatever. But his exit meeting comes into basically Mark saying like, ‘I’ve got to let you go.’ And me on the same time basically saying, ‘You know there’s only 11 games left (before the playoffs).’ Like not only am I worried about my reputation, and I’m not really worried about his reputation. I’m just kind of informing him like you don’t come out squeaky clean on something like this. You don’t just along the way just like dismiss one of your assistant coaches and think that nothing is going to happen. Like, there’s still going to be some fallout from this. Then we started getting into the talk of team and how I thought that they were really good, and he thought that they were not good as they really are. And at the end of the day, I got fired, and I went to the D League, and it was an adventure. The biggest thing I was like so surprised about was I had another year on my deal, and I offered. I said, ‘Listen, you can have all your money back. If you’re back next year, I’ll just go and do something else. It’s totally fine. This is not a good fit for me and you. But along the way, we don’t have ruin my reputation nor do we have to ruin your reputation.’ As a way of pleading to him like, ‘Do not do this, right?’ No. Didn’t care.”

Afterward, Wojnarowski broke the news of Scalabrine’s forced reassignment and wrote of the Warriors’ “increasingly dysfunctional atmosphere.” The story set the tone for the rest of the season even as Jackson denied the dysfunction.

Scalabrine said he had championship expectations for the Warriors when he decided to join Jackson, whom he said he was “really close friends” with before his arrival at Golden State.

“I thought that we would win it, and I thought that team was unbelievable, and I knew about a month-and-a-half in that we just didn’t have what it takes,” Scalabrine said. “We weren’t disciplined enough. We didn’t push and grind the way we have to grind to win. Now, we had what it takes to win, but there is an element of uncomfortable-ness and being comfortable with uncomfortable-ness that we just never really went into from a coaches-to-players standpoint.”

After the Warriors’ first-round playoff series loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Jackson was fired. He told SiriusXM afterward Scalabrine for weeks had showed him “disrespect.” Neither he nor Scalabrine have coached since then.

Also on Wednesday, Bogut appeared on a SiriusXM radio show with his former position coach Scalabrine as the co-host and spoke about his lone season as an NBA coach.

“The thing that I respected about Brian was he marches to his own drum,” Bogut said. “He’s not a follower, so he stuck to his principles and what he believed in, and I’m a similar type guy. He doesn’t buy into what the crowd is saying, so we kind of had a relationship based upon that where we were kind of our own people and didn’t follow what other people were doing.

“He was the first NBA coach to get sent to the D League, though,” Bogut added, laughing. “So it was kind of a record. He got a D League assignment as a coach. At least he set a record when he was coaching.”


Ex-assistant coach Lindsey Hunter: Warriors ‘would have won anyway’ had Mark Jackson coached current team


Mark Jackson became a topic of conversation after his comments about Stephen Curry on Christmas Day, and he isn’t the only member of the previous coaching staff who recently had strong opinions watching his old team.

Former Warriors assistant coach Lindsey Hunter recently stated his belief that Jackson’s staff would have had success as well had it been retained to coach the current team.

“Do I think the team would have won anyway? Yes,” Hunter told Detroit Sports 1051 earlier this month. “If we had those same pieces, of course we would probably be sitting there at whatever.

“The team is so set, and after winning a championship…it’s a lot of autopilot. And not trying to take away from what Luke (Walton) is doing, but if somebody else was coaching that team, I wouldn’t doubt if they would be in the same position that they are in now.

At the time of Hunter’s comments, the Warriors were off to a 23-0 start with Walton as the interim head coach after winning the NBA championship with Steve Kerr as a rookie coach.

Hunter was not retained when the Warriors fired Jackson following the 2013-14 season and a first-round playoff exit.

“It’s just like a marriage,” Hunter said. “You know, some marriages work, and some don’t. And depending on how willing the two ends are to get together and make it work…and sometimes ownership just wants a different thing. And you’re the owner, so you can do what you really, really want. Sometimes, it’s just not justified. It’s just, ‘OK, we want to go in another direction,’ and you’ve just got to suck it up and go ahead. Coach Jackson was great. I mean, he was great for me and my coaching career. He let me work, and he let us grow as a group, and he really…had a great ability to get guys to play hard, and you respected that. And he treated guys like men, and it was a very family atmosphere. You just loved it. It’s just unfortunately, they saw things differently, and you can’t knock ‘em for it.”

The most recent comment from Warriors ownership on Jackson came from co-owner Peter Guber, who told The Beast 980 in May, “We had to make a change that we felt would bring the organization a type of discipline and resources and resourcefulness that it needed on the basketball front.”

Hunter praised his former players Curry and Draymond Green for transcending the game with their play with the current Warriors team.

“It is must-see TV,” Hunter said. “Me and my guys text constantly about what’s going on. Is Golden State on? We’re texting each other. Is the game on television? We’re all trying to watch because it’s must-see TV. You just want to see what Steph is going to do. You want to see what Klay (Thompson) is going to do, Draymond.”

Hunter said he was now visiting with college coaches and doing developmental work with high school players in Southfield, Mich.

“If I were to take an NBA job, it would have to be with the right cast,” he said. “I’d have to have the right guys supporting me. I couldn’t do it on an iffy situation.

“It just depends on who was managing it.”


Stephen Curry wishes Mark Jackson would’ve worded it differently, but knows ‘there was a compliment in there’

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) pauses during his shooting practice prior the NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) pauses during his shooting practice prior the NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Warriors guard Stephen Curry said he understood what former coach Mark Jackson meant when he said on the Christmas Day broadcast of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers that the reigning MVP has to a degree “hurt the game” in the way youth players are inspired to shoot from long distances.

“After I heard all of what he was talking about, I understand where he’s coming from – that being for the youth of today and how they watch us play or watch me in particular, and they want to go out and try to do the same thing,” Curry said Saturday. “It’s all about practice and routine and repetition that can help you get to that point, so you can’t skip that part of the process.

“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.”

Jackson, who coached Curry and the Warriors until his firing following the 2013-14 season, is an ESPN broadcaster who made his point after it was noted Curry can hit 30-foot shots.

“Steph Curry’s great,” Jackson said. “Steph Curry’s the MVP. He’s a champion. Understand what I’m saying when I say this. To a degree, he’s hurt 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 3-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on the other aspects of your game. People think that he’s just a knock-down shooter. That’s not why he’s the MVP. He’s a complete basketball player.”

“People are not looking at that. That didn’t filter down when we had Michael Jordan. It didn’t filter down when you saw Kobe Bryant’s incredible all-time great footwork. We don’t fall in love with the things that make ‘em great. We fall in the love with things that they do great.”

Jackson later responded to the ensuing criticism of his comments, tweeting, “Read the Quote!!! Stop Searching!!”

ESPN director of communications Ben Cafardo also tweeted, “Context. It’s important.”

Jackson’s comments did cause some criticism from Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who declined to address them but added, “Anything he says, you can take with a grain of salt, and you can quote me on that.”


Mark Jackson on not being upset with life after the Warriors: ‘I am absolutely winning’

Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, center, hugs guard Stephen Curry after Curry was taken out of the game as forward Draymond Green looks on during the second half in Game 7 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 126-121. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, center, hugs guard Stephen Curry after Curry was taken out of the game as forward Draymond Green looks on during the second half in Game 7 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 126-121. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson will return to Oracle Arena on Dec. 16 to broadcast the team’s game against the Phoenix Suns for ESPN.

In previous games in which Jackson has called the action in a Warriors, his comments have been dissected as many fans have wondered what it was like to be in the booth discussing the team that fired him after the 2013-14 season.

Jackson has noticed and offered some perspective Thursday, laughing when being asked in studio at ESPN LA radio about his split with the team as he noted, “I got fired.”

“I look at people on Twitter or wherever, and they say or write a story, ‘How could ESPN have Mark Jackson do this game? That’s brutal, and that’s abuse,’” Jackson said. “It is absolutely hysterical to me. I was a kid dreaming of being an NBA player. At the same time, dreaming of being the announcer. I was Earl Monroe and Magic Johnson on the court. I was Marv Albert announcing the action while I was on the court in the park. And at the same time, I was Red Holzman, the coach of the Knicks. So I was a guy that dreamt about being all three at one time.

“To live my life, to have played 17 years in the NBA, to have coached for three years for a team, and to have the privilege to call NBA games and announce the NBA Finals, I am absolutely winning. There is no reason at all for me to be upset, discouraged or depressed. It is a blessing to be in my position, and I’m having the time of my life covering the best game in the world.”

The Warriors won the NBA championship under Steve Kerr the season after Jackson’s firing. It was Jackson who turned things around after a 23-win season his first year.

“I took over a job in Golden State with a bad culture, guys that said they wanted to win, but didn’t want to win,” Jackson said.

Now the Warriors are 23-0, and Jackson offered high praise of the current team.

“They’re a great basketball team, and you’re not going to be ‘em putting together 12 minutes of quality basketball,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to play 48 minutes, be disciplined and pay attention to detail to have a legitimate chance. And even when you do that, they still can beat you. They’re that good.”


Ex-Warriors coach Mark Jackson: ‘There will never be no issues’ with Stephen Curry

Asked if he had the opportunity to explain to Stephen Curry his pick of James Harden as the MVP, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Thursday he wasn’t going there.

“What I will say is there are people that will attempt to create nonsense and create friction,” Jackson told the Dan LeBatard Show. “From my end, that’ll never take place. I’m forever grateful for how he conducted himself as a player of mine. I’m forever grateful for who he is as an individual and the accomplishments that he’s had. And there will never be no issues between him and I as far as I’m concerned. I wish him nothing but the very best, and I’m going to love him.”

Curry was named the MVP earlier this week after Jackson, an ESPN broadcaster without a vote, told the Dan Patrick Show last month that his vote would probably go to Houston’s James Harden. Curry, who had supported Jackson leading up to his firing after last season had said his former coach’s pick was “very surprising.”

“The easy route to go was to say Steph,” Jackson said. “That’s easy. I’m not saying he wasn’t worthy. I’m not even saying he didn’t deserve it. I just had to make a pick. So at the end of the day, I love him. I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him. Tremendous speech. Tremendous accomplishment. I wish him nothing but the very best, and we move on. But as an announcer, I’ve never taken the easy way out. I never try to take shortcuts. I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability. And that’s not saying James Harden didn’t deserve it. If anybody thinks I’m shading or hating or all of that, I picked the guy that wound up No. 2 as far as the voting was concerned.

Jackson’s name did not come up in Curry’s speech Monday after he beat out Harden for the award in a landslide.

“I love Steph Curry, and I’m excited and proud of the fact that he was MVP of the league in 2014-15,” Jackson said. “He deserved it when you think about the body of work. And obviously I got a job to do, and my job is to be honest and to analyze the game.

“My feelings have not changed towards (Curry), and I think he’s a great, great individual. And I’m extremely proud of him. And I still love him.”

Jackson noted that when he says that Rick Pitino is the greatest coach that he played for, broadcast partner Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t get upset.

Van Gundy, told 95.7 The Game on Tuesday that he didn’t read anything into Jackson picking Harden.

“People are going to try to nitpick,” Van Gundy said. “They’ve done it with Mark when he said he thought he would vote for Harden. Like that was some referendum on their relationship (between Curry and Jackson).

“Listen, I’ve seen them interact in the back just last Sunday (when Jackson was at Oracle Arena for Game 1 of the Memphis series). And I can see that not only is there true respect between each other, but there is like an appreciation for what each other did for each other’s career.”


Warriors PG Stephen Curry Skipping Orlando to Rest His Ailing Right Foot

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry won’t be headed to Orlando. He is skipping the All-Star Weekend festivities, including Saturday’s Skills Challenge, to rest his ailing right foot, which he injured in Wednesday’a win at Phoenix.

Young said the decision was much more precautionary and the strained tendon in his foot has nothing to do with the right ankle that’s already cost Curry nine games.

“Doctors told him he needs to stay off it as much as possible,” Young said in a phone interview Thursday. “He feels like it will be fine in three or four days. He’s very optimistic he will play in Indianapolis.”
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Despite 48 from Monta Ellis and a Triple-Double from David Lee, Warriors lose to Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City 119-116

Game story for tomorrow’s paper

Tuesday’s 119-116 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a microcosm for the Warriors’ season thus far, as they failed to capitalize on a grand opportunity.

The Warriors got a career-high 48 points from guard Monta Ellis. Forward David Lee recorded his second-career triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists). And the Warriors put a scare into the arguably the best team in the Western Conference.

But when it came down to the end, the Warriors did what it took to lose. Even at home.

Golden State turned it over six times in the fourth quarter. After shooting 59.7 percent through three quarters, they got jumper happy and went 7 for 18 in the fourth, including five missed 3-pointers and just six points in the paint. Ellis, down one with nine seconds left, wound up taking a contested 3-pointer.

“Our effort was there,” Ellis said. “We played them hard the whole game. It came down to one shot. … It was a great shot. Nothing you can do about it. It didn’t go down. It is what it is.”

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