October 27, 2011
New Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has much to prove. As someone who's never held a coaching job at any level, he needs to earn the respects of his players and colleagues. Despite his reputation as a player, he needs to prove he can lead. In other words, he needs to show that he cares more about coaching than anything else he's done in basketball. He has to make it clear that he's going to take advantage of an opportunity most coaches spend their lifetimes working towards.
NBA coaches spend a ton of time pouring over game tape and preparing their teams as best they can. It makes sense that a rookie coach would need to work around the clock to catch up. Jackson, though, is planning on taking a different approach. From Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com, who spoke with Jackson (via PBT):
--Jackson said he's not big on long practices. He'd rather go shorter than longer when it comes to team workouts.
"If you're efficient and put quality work in, we can move on," Jackson said. "Ultimately, it's a long season. We will go over this stuff, well go over it in detail and then we'll be out of here. I'm not a guy who wants to keep players here three or four hours just to say we're here."
--Jackson said he's not the kind of coach who will be working 16-hour days, laboring over game tapes and spending an inordinate amount of time mulling the nuances of his job.
Jackson called coaches and coaching staffs that are said to be in the office before sunrise and out of the office after the sun goes down are guilty of "false hustle."
Jackson certainly has a point that working overly long hours can be counterproductive, especially if the coach gets chronically tired and has trouble with the personal aspects of leading an NBA team. There is a legitimate point to be made there.
Still, claiming that any coaches that work 16-hour days are dealing in "false hustle" is an insult to basketball obsessives like Tom Thibodeau whose teams are legitimately better prepared than others almost every time they take the court. Jackson's comments here suggest that he may actually have a poor idea of what it takes to cut it as a high-level coach in today's NBA. At the very least, it makes little sense for him to be so dismissive of potential work hours when he's never had the job before.
The approach is indicative of Jackson's larger sense of what it means to be an NBA coach. From his multi-year interview process (during which he refused to put himself up for assistant jobs) to interviews like this one, Jackson seems to consider the job a right rather than a privilege. Given the track record of most coaches, he could use a healthy dose of humility.