To paraphrase Mark Jackson himself: Mama, here comes that man.
The Warriors announced Monday that they have hired Jackson, an ESPN and ABC analyst, as their new coach. And the consensus among the front-office types was they indeed got their man.
"A tremendous honor," Jackson said on ESPN. "They believe in what I'm preaching."
Jackson, 46, will join the Warriors after the NBA finals, for which he is serving as an analyst. A team source confirmed reports that he received a three-year deal worth $6 million. The Warriors are hoping to have an introductory news conference Friday.
The announcement came nearly six weeks after the Warriors parted ways with Keith Smart, who led them to a 10-win improvement in his first and only full season as coach. Jackson was chosen over Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Brian Shaw.
"We do feel like we have done an exhaustive search," said Larry Riley, the Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations. "We got to the point we were convinced we were making the right decision."
Jackson, who played point guard in the NBA for 17 seasons (1987-2004), has been a popular name in coaching circles for the past few years, interviewing with Atlanta and Philadelphia last season. But he has never coached professionally, even as an assistant. He has kept himself in the spotlight on television, becoming known for catchphrases such as "Mama, there goes that man" and "Hand down, man down."
Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob was impressed by Jackson when the two met "a week ago Thursday," Riley said. Jackson did so well in his interview that Lacob passed on interviewing Casey, who was pegged by many to be the favorite to get the job.
Riley said Jackson's inexperience was outweighed by his grasp of the game. He wowed the Warriors' brass with his passion, strong personality and leadership ability.
Despite his inexperience, Jackson brings the credibility of a highly respected point guard in what is known as a players league. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 and was selected as an All-Star in 1989. He made it to the playoffs in all but three seasons, logging 131 playoff games, including a trip to the NBA finals with Indiana in 2000. He is third all-time in career assists (10,334), behind Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton and Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd.
"We felt the knowledge he collected as a player and the way he analyzes the game was helpful to him," Riley said. "I just feel like there was enough there. He is going to be able to put together a good staff, and he's going to be able to handle coaching games. He's been preparing to be a head coach all along. And that's exposed when you talk to him about X's and O's, and also when you talked to him about managing a team."
To support Jackson in his inexperience, the Warriors nabbed the assistant coach they coveted. Late Monday evening, New Orleans assistant Mike Malone agreed to become the Warriors lead assistant coach, a team source said.
Malone, whom Riley said Jackson strongly recommended, agreed to a three-year deal join the Warriors bench, turning down the chance to become the top assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers under new coach Mike Brown.
Malone was the top assistant for the Hornets last season. Before that, he spent five seasons on Cleveland's bench under Brown. Malone got his first assistant job with New York in 2001, when Jackson was the starting point guard.
After assembling his staff, Riley said, Jackson will be consulted on what the Warriors should do with the No. 11 pick in the draft on June 23. Monday, the Warriors worked out Kansas forward Marcus Morris, who is projected to be taken in the back half of the lottery.
Of more importance is Jackson's opinion on current players -- especially second-year guard Stephen Curry. A team source previously said part of Smart's demise was his handling of Curry, the franchise point guard. The Warriors are hoping Jackson's experience as a wily, floor general will help take Curry's game to a new level.