Monday evening, the Golden State Warriors announced they hired Mark Jackson as their next head coach, replacing Keith Smart. Jackson is, of course, the former New York Knicks point guard who spent the first five seasons of his long, productive career in the Big Apple. It's Jackson's first coaching gig of any kind, which explains both his low salary (reportedly $6 million over three seasons) and why the Warriors are committed to hiring first-rate assistant coaches to round out his staff.
Notably, the Knicks nearly hired Jackson three years ago. He was so convinced the job was his that "he was assembling his staff" when he learned they decided on Mike D'Antoni instead, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News.
The posters at Posting and Toasting, SB Nation's Knicks community, are delighted with the news. "Thank you Golden State! at least for now, we won't be hiring Mark Jackson," wrote one fan. As Lawrence alludes to, D'Antoni faces an uncertain future with the Knicks, and if Jackson were still available, New York may have given him an opportunity to replace D'Antoni.
Jackson ranks as the Knicks' all-time leader in assists per game (8) and second only to Walt "Clyde" Frazier in total assists (4005). During his second season, he became an NBA All-Star on the strength of his 17.7 points, 9 assists, and 2 steals per game. The Knicks made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, but never advanced past the second round during his tenure. As a result, New York dealt him to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a larger, three-team trade which netted the Knicks Doc Rivers, Charles Smith, and Bo Kimble.
Jackson returned to the Knicks at the 2001 trading deadline, as the Toronto Raptors traded him to New York for Chris Childs. Jackson spent the next season-plus as the Knicks' top point guard, but neither team qualified for the postseason.
Since his playing days ended in 2004, Jackson has worked as a color analyst on ABC and ESPN's NBA telecasts, gaining notoriety for his catchphrases, emphatic delivery, and rapport with booth-mates Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy.