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Report: Mark Jackson tried to poison Warriors against Festus Ezeli

Mark Jackson

FILE - In this Monday, April 21, 2014, file photo, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson directs his team during the second half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Los Angeles. The Warriors fired Jackson on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Jackson’s three seasons with the Warriors will be remembered for the way he helped turn a perennially losing franchise into a consistent winner and the bold and bombastic way in which he did it. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File0

AP

Mark Jackson took an us-against-the-world approach while coaching the Warriors.

That’s hardly unusual.

What set Jackson apart is how extremely he took the strategy. Often, it seemed Golden State’s own management was the “world” and only Jackson and the players were the “us.”

But maybe it was even MORE outrageous, to the point an injured Festus Ezeli became the “them.”

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

When Ezeli was injured last season, Jackson and his staff told the healthy players that Ezeli was cheering against them — so that he would look good, according to several team sources. Players confronted Ezeli in a meeting, and he wept at the accusation — which he denied.

I suppose it’s possible Ezeli actually cheered against his own team. But given what we know about him and Jackson, I doubt it.

More likely, this was just a cheap motivational trick on Jackson’s part – which is a shame.

It puts Ezeli in an impossibly unfair spot. Jackson is too good a motivator to resort to garbage like that, but sometimes his paranoia takes over.

Jackson doesn’t get enough credit for improving the Warriors’ defense. He probably wouldn’t have led them to a championship like Steve Kerr did, but Jackson put them on the right track.

However, there were too many unnecessary problems in Golden State of Jackson’s own creation. Even though he can do good things as a coach, that’s going to make other teams be wary of hiring him.