A year ago, Mark Jackson was guaranteeing his Warriors would make the playoffs in their first year under their brand new head coach. Instead, they won 23 games in a 66-game season, finishing 13th in the Western Conference and missing the playoffs by a mere 6.5 games.
But now they’re fourth in the West in wins and looking like a playoff team. And Jackson’s coaching is a big reason, as he’s rebuilt his team’s defensive system in to something resembling every other good team in the league while simultaneously allowing his team the freedom to play the freewheeling kind of basketball the Warriors are known for. Oh, and he has really cool handshakes to boot. From the Mercury News’ Q+A with Jarrett Jack:
-Q: What was it like when you first met him? Did you watch him play?
-JACK: Definitely watched him play–the flair, the passing. I’m still trying to work on the shimmy that he used to do. I’m from D.C., so those Eastern Conference battles that they had with Michael Jordan and the Knicks and finally making it to the Finals when they lost to the Lakers, I was there to watch all of that.
Growing up and watching it, I always admired the way he played, the way he ran a team, the way he passed the ball.
Meeting him, was it different than the coaches I’ve met in the past? Yeah. His handshake was a little different…
-Q: How so?
-JACK: It’s more a younger style of handshake. The other coaches I met, we had pretty much formal handshakes.
They always say the way to a basketball player’s heart is through his handshake. Or something along those lines. I’m not a clichés dictionary, but you know what I mean.
Put another way, Mark Jackson seems to relate well to his players because a) he’s only 47 b) he played in the NBA less than a decade ago and c) he knows cool handshakes. Those seem like minor things, but when you read Jarrett Jack saying things such as “I like coaches that have played” and “he hasn’t been too far removed from the game to understand us,” you kind of realize that sort of thing can be important to NBA players. Maybe it is silly, but handshakes are pretty fun.
That being said, once everybody catches on to this fancy handshake trend, Mark Jackson is going to have to come up with something else to make his players realize he’s a cool dad. I’m thinking maybe an earring, but I know that’s a bit of a commitment.