Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson: Clippers fans should boycott Game 5 due to Donald Sterling allegations


Mark Jackson appeared on the Dan Patrick Show, and Patrick asked the Warriors coach whether he could coach the Clippers if Donald Sterling remained the team’s owner. Jackson:

I cannot be the head coach of the Clippers. Like I said, there’d have to be some dialogue. I believe that people can be changed and healed and saved and delivered. It’d have to be some dialogue, and it’d have to be a process with him wanting him wanting to change his thought process and his beliefs. But as it is right now, I could not coach for him.

Patrick also asked how the players should respond to the allegations:

People probably pressured and said the Clippers should boycott and all that. I didn’t agree with that at all. At the end of the day, you’ve got some young, successful guys that dreamed of playing at this level. You’ve got a coach that dreamed of coaching at this level. And they’re being paid very well to do it.

If I were a fan – I’m being paid. Now I’m paying to watch – I wouldn’t show up to the Staples Center. In an ideal world, I’d prefer the Clippers and the Warriors play in the Staples Center with no fans. That made a statement. That speaks volumes. It could be on TV, and we could treat it like it’s normal, but I think it would make a heck of a statement saying you won’t tolerate what was allegedly said.

To everyone telling the Clippers’ players, coaches and fans what to do – shut up.

It’s so easy to give those directions when you don’t have to take the downside of them.

But try being in those shoes. It’s not so easy. These are extraordinary circumstances. There’s no roadmap for how to respond here.

Jackson’s response on coaching the Clippers bothers me, because he doesn’t have to make that choice. Doc Rivers has a nice salary, front-office control and a championship-caliber team. He’s supposed to throw all that away because Sterling allegedly said something racist? That’s a judgment Rivers should make for himself, because he’s the only person in position to do so. It’s completely unfair for Jackson to apply peer pressure for a certain outcome.

But Jackson’s suggestion for fans is even worse, because it would benefit him directly by removing Golden State’s homecourt disadvantage in this series.

Do I think Jackson is being purposefully self-serving? No, though I won’t completely rule it out. But that his suggestion helps the Warriors must be taken into account.

It’s not a money thing. Those Game 5 tickets are already sold. Sterling is getting that cash.

Why didn’t Jackson advocate a fan boycott of Game 4 in Oakland? That would have sent a message, and like Game 5, not affect the gate revenue for any owner.

Jackson is pushing a principled stance of boycotting – one he’s strongly opposed to for his role in participating in the game – when he doesn’t have to eat his tickets. Playoff tickets don’t come cheap, and I’m sure many fans want to support the players and Rivers. Whether going to the game endorses Sterling is a judgment fans must make for themselves, because they’re the only ones in position to do it.

At least Jackson wasn’t scolding the Clippers’ players for not boycotting. You can find that plenty of other places, though.

Everyone – including Jackson, Chauncey Billups, Jalen Rose, George Hill and Jerryd Bayless – is entitled to their opinion. But they’re not in the shoes of the people they’re speaking for.

The Clippers’ players, coaches and fans are doing the best they can. I have no clue what they should do, and I suspect many of them don’t, either.

It’s so much easier to say what you’d do when you don’t actually have do it. I wish a few more people would acknowledge that before saying what they’d do – because they sure don’t have to follow through.

Charles Barkley: Klay Thompson is a better player than Kevin Durant

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You know the NBA season is back when Charles Barkley is just talking out his… er, saying ridiculous things.

On Inside the NBA before the tip off of San Antonio thrashing Golden State, Barkley said then tried to defend the idea that Klay Thompson is a better all-around player than Kevin Durant. It was vintage Barkley — and it’s what makes the barbershop feel of Inside the NBA must-watch television every week.

The flaw in Barkley’s argument is that he tries to use the “two-way player” argument to try and balance out Durant’s and Thompson’s offensive contributions. Is Thompson a better defender than Durant? Yes. Even though people underestimate Durant’s defense a little, I will stipulate Thompson is a better defender. But does that defense make up for how much more offensive versatility and shot creation Durant brings to the table compared to Thompson? No. Again, Thompson is an excellent offensive player and probably the second best shooter in the game, but he does not create shots or force a defense to adjust the way Durant does. KD’s amazing offense tips the scales more than Thompson’s defense. KD is the better overall player.

And The Jet is way too quick to dismiss Kawhi Leonard as maybe the second best player in the league. But Leonard made his case just after these comments.

Watch Jonathan Simmons posterize JaVale McGee

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This was the exclamation point on the Spurs thrashing of the Warriors on opening night.

Jonathan Simmons — who was a beast in the first half and finished the night with 20 points off the bench — was pounding the ball out top, then as the clock wound down blew by rookie Patrick McCaw, got into the lane looking for the two-handed slam. When JaVale McGee slid over to contest Simmons switched to the one-hander and finished over the big man.

That’s the way to start an NBA season.

Three things we learned Tuesday: Kawhi’s Spurs are not to be trifled with

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 25:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball up court against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter in an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on October 25, 2016 Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The NBA season has returned, and we are back with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. So if you were busy watching the Cubs bats go cold, here is what you missed.

1) The Spurs are Kawhi Leonard’s team — and they are magnificent. Every year we give lip service to the “don’t sleep on the Spurs” idea, and then we get wrapped up talking about some other bright, shiny new object. Like say a move from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area. We do exactly what we said we weren’t going to do.

Then San Antonio reminds us they are fierce competitors and contenders. Tuesday night the Spurs went into Oracle Arena and slapped Kevin Durant and the Warriors around. This was an old-school beatdown. In a game where the Warriors had the winners of the last three MVP awards, Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the court — a career-high 35 points on 21 shots, he got to the line 15 times, and he had five steals. Tim Duncan is gone and this is now Leonard’s team, without question. He was simply unfair, just torturing the Warriors on both ends and leading a physical Spurs team that dominated the glass — the Spurs had 24 second chance points to the Warriors 4.

Leonard didn’t do it alone, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 14 boards, Jonathan Simmons came off the bench for 20 and had a highlight chasedown block on Stephen Curry. But make no mistake, this was Leonard’s team and night.

Games in October are incredibly poor predictors of the outcome of a May playoff series. Both of these teams will evolve over the course of the season, and the Warriors will get things figured out. But we learned on opening night there is no doubt the Spurs are Kawhi’s team — and they are not to be trifled with.

2) Golden State’s defense needs some work. It was easy to see the rough spots in the Warriors offense the team still needs to be smoothed out — the passes to teammates who had already vacated the spot, the threes not being in rhythm (7-of-33 from deep, a number of those looks uncontested), and all those stars playing next to each other rather than with each other. It was to be expected.

However, offense wasn’t the Warriors’ big problem — their defense was atrocious. The Spurs scored at a ridiculous 125.9 points per 100 possessions pace, because literally half of their shot attempts were uncontested (according to the player tracking stats). San Antonio had an eFG% of 54.1, and the Spurs grabbed the offensive rebound on 41.2 percent of their shots when they did miss. Leonard had a career-high 35 points, Aldridge 26, and the Spurs time after time got the shot they wanted — and they had 24 fast break points, the Warriors did not get back in transition defense. The Warriors missed Andrew Bogut inside, both as a rim protector and on the glass (this was not Zaza Pachulia’s best night).

The past two years, the Warriors had a top five NBA defense, and that as much as their vaunted shooting was the reason they went to back-to-back Finals. No doubt they made the right move adding Durant to the roster — they are going to figure this all out. This was the first game of 82, and we knew there would be some bumps at the start. But more than the offense, Steve Kerr and his staff need to get the Warriors back to being a defensive force.

3) Damian Lillard’s brilliant offense overcame his defense. Again. Damian Lillard came into this season saying he wanted to be MVP, and on opening night he put up those kinds of numbers — 39 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and he led his team to an opening night win against Utah. Portland did a great job of setting their high picks especially high, then letting Lillard go downhill fast off them right at Rudy Gobert — and Lillard finished around and over the big man all night.

Portland had an eight-point lead at the half and led by double digits for chunks of the second quarter, but in the third Utah took the lead because they exposed Lillard on the other end. Utah started running a George Hill/Joe Johnson pick-and-roll (1/3 action) and when Lillard switched it they got the ball to Johnson and he just overpowered Lillard on his way to 29 points. Johnson shot 6-of-7 in the paint and scored at will all night.

Lillard came back and had 16 of his points in the fourth quarter to help Portland get the win, he was nothing short of brilliant on offense. The Blazers got enough stops to rack up the victory at home. But their small backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum is going to be a defensive challenge all season long.

Opening night bonus note: LeBron James was having fun at the expense of the Knicks’ defense. The Cavaliers cruised to a win over New York, and LeBron James had a triple-double and did whatever he wished. And what he wished was to dunk. A lot.

Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry


Jonathan Simmons did his best LeBron James impression on opening night.

While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).

Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.