Mark Jackson played in the NBA for 17 seasons as a point guard, for seven different teams between 1987 and 2004. He then spent three years as coach of the Golden State Warriors during the early rise of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Both before that and since, he worked as a broadcaster on local and national NBA telecasts.
The Warriors fired Jackson in 2014 and replaced him with Steve Kerr, who has led the Warriors to three championships since. Jackson never got another NBA head coaching job, and one of his former players thinks he knows the reason why.
Andre Iguodala, who played for the Warriors at the tail-end of Jackson’s tenure and remains with the team to this day, appeared on the radio show The Breakfast Club this week, as cited by Sports Illustrated.
“One particular issue was [Jackson’s] views on gender or marriage or what the bible says on your sexuality,” the veteran player said on the radio show.
Jackson, who is an ordained pastor, once said “not in my locker room” about gay players, around the time that Jason Collins became the first openly gay player in the NBA, SF Bay quoted a “source close to the team” as saying in 2014.
Iguodala, on the show, added that “the head of our business Rick Welts… he’s celebrated as one of the top execs in sports, on the business side, and he’s gay, so there was conflicts with that that was widespread.”
Welts, who came out as gay in 2011 when he worked for the Phoenix Suns, joined the Warriors as their team president later that year. Iguodala also described Welts, who recently entered the Basketball Hall of Fame, as a “genius.”
The player also denied a rumor that Jackson had forced players on the team to attend church, but said that most players attended voluntarily.
Jackson, even after his departure from the Warriors, has had a prominent place in the NBA, as one of the lead broadcasters for ABC and ESPN’s coverage of national games. He’s also been rumored as in contention for NBA coaching jobs on occasion, such as with the Los Angeles Lakers last December, per The Inquisitr.
Andre Iguodala said Mark Jackson’s religious and marriage views caused his absence from coaching since being fired by the Warriors in 2014 https://t.co/LnFxD2QhYd
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 25, 2019
It has not been reported that Wells was responsible for Jackson’s firing by the Warriors. And it’s unclear how the president of the Warriors would have the power to influence hiring decisions by other NBA teams.
However, it’s long been known that, for whatever reason, Jackson made a lot of enemies in his time as Warriors coach.
A Yahoo Sports article in 2016 by Adrian Wojnarowski, which is no longer online but was quoted in a Reddit thread at the time, stated that LeBron James, during his second stint in Cleveland, wanted the team to hire Jackson as coach, but that the team’s then-general manager, David Griffin, “is too well-connected in the NBA, too knowledgeable of the truths inside Jackson’s Warriors regime to let that happen.”
The Breakfast Club is based in New York City. Mark Jackson was born in Brooklyn, played his college ball at St. John’s, and had two different stints as a player with the New York Knicks.