I’m certainly no yachting expert, but every time I hear Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson speak during training camp, I can’t help but think of the TV broadcast of America’s Cup [with apologies to resident LGW writer Anthony Mitchell, who hails (and writes) from New Zealand!].
As the last and deciding race began, I can recall how the announcers were describing the nitty gritty details of the start sequence, where according to America’s Cup Sailing Rules and Tactics,
The start line is positioned so the first leg will be a short fast reach to the first turning mark -basically a drag race. A good start is critical.
I can still feel the astonishment of the announcers in how Oracle Team USA just, quite simply, “had a faster boat” and speculation on how Larry Ellison‘s crew meticulously adjusted the design of their catamaran on a day-to-day basis to make it the world’s fastest sailboat.
That’s quite similar to what Coach Jackson has done in his Training Camp strategy over the past week: position the Warriors for a great start and honing the team into a refined projectile that will, if all goes according to plan, be very difficult to stop, especially with the inherent depth and chemistry.
The first thing MJ has instituted is a culture of doing whatever it takes for the team to win. You heard this right off the bat. When asked about having six or seven potential starters, Coach said, “Our agenda is winning.” The doing-whatever-it-takes-to-win theme was reiterated by Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson, the three players most likely to be involved in any debate about the Dubs’ starting five.
The second thing Coach Jackson demanded from his players was a “take-no-plays-off” (aka “go hard”) mentality, tempered with a “make-my-teammate-better” philosophy. That is to say, you aggressively attack your opponent (who, at the end of the day, is your teammate), but you do so with mindfulness that the approach will only help improve both you and your defender. Again, this mantra was echoed over and over again, from Toney Douglas to Stephen Curry to Kent Bazemore to Marreese Speights to David Lee.
And finally, the little tweaks. It’s like spotting a small barnacle on one of your hydrofoils or something. Mark Jackson will be there to not only scrape, not only sand, but also polish the darn thing to perfection. I humbly submit…
- When told that Steph had said Bazemore looked impressive in camp so far, Jackson shot that down. “Truthfully, I don’t think any of our guys have stood out.” He went on to say that Kent “has been Kent”. More on this in another post (about Baze), but MJ just praised and toned him down, all in one breath.
- Similarly, when discussing Iguodala’s talents, Jackson suggested that, “He does things that stand out and he does things that, crazy as it seems, pretty much blend in…if we went and got Lebron James or Kevin Durant, I’d want them to stand out…I’m not going to ask (Andre) to do something that he’s not.”
- Giving the team the day off on Wednesday after seeing how hard they were competing.
- Having practice at Oracle Arena on Thursday, to rekindle the excitement of the team.
- When I asked Coach Jackson if, on a team full of unselfish players, there was ever any concern of players becoming too deferential (i.e., passive or not aggressive), he replied, “No. There’s only one agenda which is winning. There’s no concerns with that at all.”
Here in training camp, Jackson has done about all he can to prepare the Warriors for the preseason. Now it’s just a matter of jumping in the water and performing.