Mark Jackson’s Tunnel Vision

It doesn’t surprise me that Mark Jackson employed his hack-a-Howard last night. It didn’t surprise me when he did it on Christmas Day to Deandre Jordan and the LA Clippers. Mark Jackson was always a lobbyist for teams taking advantage of the rules as best they could when he called games for ESPN. As disgusting as flopping, intentional fouling and guys jumping into defenders for free throws is to many of us, Mark Jackson was always applauding from his court side seat. Thank goodness Jeff Van Gundy was there to put him in his place.

It’s just too bad for Mark Jackson that Jeff Van Gundy isn’t on his coaching staff in Golden State.

Since last night’s game, where Dwight Howard attempted an NBA record 39 free throw attempts, Jackson’s hack-a-Howard strategy has been debated fiercely. Whether from a strategic stand point the choice to foul Howard throughout the game was right or wrong, Jackson’s implementation of this tactic does not bode well for his long-term future.

I think we can safely assume that Mark Jackson aspires to be an all-time coaching great. When all is said and done, he will want to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Jerry Sloan and Pat Riley.

It won’t happen if he continues to think like 15-year-old – unable to look farther in the future than Friday night. As a first year head coach on a team that lacks basic defensive principles, Mark Jackson should be laying a solid foundation for years to come. Instead, all he seems to care about is a meaningless January win on a team that is bound to be golfing come playoff time.

Mark Jackson clearly cannot comprehend the idea of short-term pain for long-term gain. Too bad that his attempt to prove himself as an outside-the-box thinking NBA coach will cause him not only short-term pain but long-term pain as well.

By putting his excessive hack-a-poor free throw shooter strategy into practice from day one, Mark Jackson has told his team they can’t play defence and he isn’t even going to bother trying. It isn’t possible for Jackson’s players to ever learn to trust him if he won’t put any faith into them. It’s not a good sign for the Warriors franchise that they have a coach who is so short-sighted.

His comments following yesterday’s game did nothing except reinforce his narrow-minded philosophy. He said “I can understand people thinking, ‘Why?’ But don’t get caught up in the free throws. Think about the times we didn’t foul him. It was dunks, hooks, plays at the rim. He’s a great player and a bad free-throw shooter. We were giving ourselves the best possible chance by messing up their rhythm.”

Let’s go with Mark and believe that those 39 free throw attempts did in fact give his team the best chance to win. So what? Teaching your guys how to intentionally foul a far superior individual isn’t doing anything to benefit the long-term future of your franchise and you personally as a coach. I don’t care that Kwame Brown was injured and they had no true center to guard Dwight Howard. It’s not about that.

Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Sadly, Mark Jackson’s men didn’t even get to eat for a day.

Mark Jackson shouldn’t be looking for a few cheap wins here and there. Hack-a-Howard won’t help instil a gritty, hard-nosed, defensive culture in his team that was absent in Don Nelson’s run and gun, high-octane offensive system.

The Warriors may lack the personnel to be a great defensive team but it doesn’t mean they can’t try. Mark Jackson should look at the way Toronto Raptor’s first year coach Dwane Casey has implemented a refreshing brand of hustle into a team that was the NBA’s worst defence last season. Despite the lockout and a starting line-up that still features Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, Casey has transformed a previously inept Raptor defence into respectability. Casey talked before the season of bringing a new brand of basketball to the city of Toronto and he has done that.

Unlike Dwane Casey and contrary to what Mark Jackson might believe, he hasn’t walked the walked.

Last night, unbeknownst to Jackson, he waved the white flag and surrendered to the Orlando Magic. He thought he was fighting for his team but really he was telling them that he shouldn’t be the general leading them into battle. Some players would jump in front of a bullet for their coach. There’s probably a few Warrior’s right now who would push Mark Jackson into the line of fire.

It may be too early to write Mark Jackson off as a legitimate NBA coach but the alarm bells are ringing. If he doesn’t change his ways and continues looking only in the short-term, he won’t have to worry much about the long-term state of the Warriors.

No problem though, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen will welcome him back with open arms.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Tim Tebow a Real Starting Quarterback?

Tim Tebow must start the season as the Denver Broncos starting quarterback. I don’t think there are many people who could disagree with that. Whether he won or lost against the Steelers today, Tebow earned his spot as the team’s rightful starting quarterback.

The bottom line still isn’t wins. It’s how Tebow gets those wins. Today, Tim Tebow’s starring role against the Steelers was not accompanied by an Oscar worthy performance from luck (god?) for best supporting actor. Tebow time wasn’t reserved specifically for the 4th quarter as the Broncos’s won this game in a manner that John Elway could be proud of who seemed genuinely happy today. I know, right?

Tim Tebow showed the organization they need to stick with him. Even the fiercest critics, such as myself, of Tebow’s stumbling and bumbling inspector Clouseau-like (see my tweet) style of play have to concede this one to the real chosen1. It would be crazy of Denver, at this point, not to publicly show a great deal of confidence with regards to Tim Tebow’s status as the starting quarterback going into next season.

He has clearly improved virtually all facets of his game. That is something no one can ignore.

However, is it enough?

In spite of everything we witnessed against the Steelers, one strong week following a number of poor weeks isn’t going to completely change my mind. Yeah, what a shocker.

The supporters continue to support while the critics continue to criticize.

Tebow still misses open receivers. Late in the 4th quarter he had a chance to put his team into game winning field goal range but on 3rd down with just over a minute remaining he neatly stepped up in the pocket only to badly miss the open receiver running free across the middle of the field. It wasn’t the lone time in the game he missed a receiver by a fair margin. He may have thrown for over 300 yards but it was done on only 10 of 21 passing, with just 1 of those passes being dropped.

Tebow still stands in the pocket for much too long. He hasn’t learned how make his progressions and read a defence with ease. If his primary receiver isn’t there, Tebow must scramble. Can he learn to read defences? Does he have to learn how to read defences?

The only people who flip-flop more than Mitt Romney does may be the football analysts commenting on this Tebow conundrum. Nevertheless, his inability to show he can consistently play as well as he has against the Steelers and Raiders leaves me no choice but to carry on with my scepticism.

Consistency is a must in the NFL. Roller-coasters are fun, but after a while you start to get sick of them. America will never get sick of talking about Tebow. The Broncos, on the other hand, will put up with his inconsistency for only so long.

Tebow deserves the opportunity to succeed in the NFL next year. He should be the unquestionable starter. His performance against the Patriots shouldn’t make any difference to where he stands next season. While he ought to be number 1 on the depth chart in 2012, the Broncos can’t put all their eggs in their holy basket.

To place their full faith in an inconsistent, inaccurate quarterback constantly exposed to injury, despite his thick 245 pound frame, after a clutch playoff performance would also be crazy. Focusing their complete energy in surrounding Tebow with the best personnel for an option offence could blow up in their face if Tebow fails or gets injured.

Tebow has given the Bronco’s a lot more to think about. And to think, a Raiders win last weekend might have put the final nail in Tebow’s starting quarterback coffin. Now, it’s full steam ahead for the Tebow train.

I’m just not jumping aboard. Not yet.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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