First-time coach has bold prediction for Warriors

First-time coach Mark Jackson has a bold prediction for his

first season with the Golden State Warriors.

”I fully expect, put it in bold letters, the Golden State

Warriors to be a playoff team next year,” Jackson said Tuesday, a

day after being hired by the team that has been to the playoffs

only once since 1994. ”If I did not expect that, I would not have

taken the job, and I won’t minimize it with just being a playoff

team. We are looking to turn the Bay Area upside down.”

Jackson’s comments came before Game 4 of the NBA finals, which

is working as a lead analyst for ESPN and ABC. He will begin his

first coaching job full time after the end of the series between

the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

In 17 seasons as an NBA point guard, Jackson played for New

York, the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana, Denver, Toronto, Utah and

Houston. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1988 and made the

playoffs 14 times. He ranks third on the NBA’s all-time assists

list.

While Jackson has never coached at any level, he doesn’t see

that as an issue.

”Some would say I’m naive, but I don’t think that’s a big

deal,” he said. ”I’ve been a leader my entire life. Every team I

ever played for, I was a leader, I was really an extension of the

coach on the floor. I know that’s cliche, but it really was in my

position. I was a guy that no coach ever told me what set to run

offensively. I ran the set and they trusted in my ability to make

reads and make calls. I don’t think it’s going to be an

issue.”

Jackson said he is more concerned that he’s never been in the

position to organize everything for an entire team on a daily

basis.

”I’ve conquered every challenge in front of me with the help of

the good Lord, and I look forward to this one,” he said.

The 46-year-old Jackson played for five Hall of Fame coaches in

his college and pro career: Lou Carnesecca, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry

Sloan, Pat Riley and Larry Brown.

”Great minds help form who I am today,” Jackson said.

Jackson will have one of the NBA’s top assistants on the bench

with him after hiring Mike Malone as his lead assistant Tuesday.

Malone was an assistant for New Orleans last season and previously

the lead assistant in Cleveland under Mike Brown.

”First and foremost, it’s a great day. Mike Malone is a guy

that I’ve known for quite some time,” Jackson said. ”I have

tremendous respect for his passion, his knowledge, his commitment.

He’s an extremely loyal guy, so it’s a big-time hire for us.”