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New Golden State Warriors' coach Mark Jackson, left center, talks with Warren Braithwait, Bob Myers, Warriors' assistant manager, and Dr. George Baljevich of TV 30, left to right, before a press conference introducing Jackson at the St. Regis Hotel on Friday, June 10, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. Jackson had a 17-year career as a point guard, first drafted by his hometown New York Knicks in 1987. (Jane Tyska/Staff)

New coach Mark Jackson called it "love at first sight" when he met Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob and company for a three-hour, poolside chat at a Los Angeles hotel last month.

That sounds charmingly similar to how he came across a young actress named Desiree Coleman, his wife of 20 years.

"I saw her on TV and told my best friend I was going to marry her," Jackson said. "I didn't know her, I met her, asked her out on a date, and she said no.

"She's a singer and an actress, so I went to her performance, saw her in the back, she said no. Then I saw her again, and finally she said, 'All right, I'm going to go out on a date with you.' And the rest is history."

Jackson was told no by a few NBA teams in recent years before the Warriors gave him his first coach job Monday.

"We had a fantastic interview down in L.A.," Lacob said Friday at Jackson's introductory press conference. "I came away from that thinking, 'Wow, this guy is exactly what I envision as a coach. He's a leader.' The first thing that hits you when you meet Mark Jackson (is) he's intelligent."

Jackson, 46, also offers a commanding, self-assured presence that stems from his Brooklyn, N.Y., upbringing and a NBA tenure that began in 1987. He most certainly knows basketball, having spent 17 seasons as an NBA point guard and the past few as a television analyst.


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So why isn't he scared off by a Warriors franchise that has reached the playoffs only once in the past 17 seasons? Their new regime -- or "dream team," as Jackson called it -- made quite an impression on him at that poolside summit.

"Meeting these guys, for me it was love at first sight," Jackson said. "I've been in a lot of processes, I've had opportunities, and I've been in interviews. I listened to the passion, the focus, the dedication, the desires of these guys with what they're trying to do."

Lacob didn't ask Jackson how he met his wife, but they did talk about family values and culture, "because we're trying to change the culture and win basketball games," said Lacob, who hasn't been shy about being in the spotlight. His passion to reverse the Warriors' draft-lottery trend is admirable.

And now he has a new leader in Jackson.

"I was a leader when my mom (Marie) gave birth to me," said Jackson, echoing the dramatic flair found in his ABC analysis of this season's NBA finals.

Jackson's father, Harry, was his best man at his 1990 wedding. Nine years later, Jackson gave a stirring eulogy at his father's funeral. Earlier this year, Jackson's younger brother Troy -- a street-ball legend whose 400-pound girth earned him the nickname "Escalade" -- passed away at age 35 from hypertensive heart disease.

Reality checks like those trivialize the dilemmas, such as whether to trade leading scorer Monta Ellis and how to make defense the top priority of a traditionally high-scoring team.

Did we mention this is Jackson's first try as a coach?

"My wife and I just talked about this the other day, because somebody made the statement how (Jackson) has never been a coach," said Al Attles, who coached the Warriors to their only championship in 1975. "She turned to me and said, 'Well you had never been a coach and were lucky enough to win a championship.' When (Jackson) has the pedigree he has, you just know he's going to be an outstanding coach."

Attles correctly assumed that Jackson has spent decades picking the brains of those who coached him, including Hall of Famers Lou Carnesecca, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley and Larry Brown. Also regaled by Jackson on Friday were Rick Pitino, Doc Rivers, ABC/ESPN colleague Jeff Van Gundy and Patrick Quigley, coach of his Bishop Loughlin Memorial High team that was New York City's undisputed champion.

A self-proclaimed "weird" kid who dreamed of simultaneously being a New York Knicks player/coach/broadcaster, Jackson is an ordained minister. He and his wife -- "Lady Dez" -- founded the True Love Worship Center in Van Nuys two years ago.

Jackson's wife and four children didn't attend Friday's unveiling, but he brought along Warren Braithwaite, a close family friend and True Love's head usher.

"What you guys are going to see is a great leader," Braithwaite said. "He's very persistent and a man who stands behind his word. By taking this head coach job, he's going to change the life of the players and the Bay Area. Pastor Mark's been dreaming about this."

One dream has come true for Jackson: marrying the beauty who played Ella Mae in the 1985 television movie "Go Tell It on The Mountain."

Just how did their courtship go once she gave it the green light?

"She didn't have a clue about sports, which was intriguing and even more attractive to me," said Jackson, the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 for the Knicks. "She didn't know who I was. As a matter of fact, on our second date, she said to me, 'I found out something about you.' I said, 'What?' She said, "That you're so good in assets.' She thought I was into acquiring funds. I told her it's 'assists.' "

What exactly did he do on their first date to earn a second one?

"We went to a movie, had some dinner, had a great time," Jackson said, "and I dazzled her."

So far, he's doing the same with the Warriors.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/CamInman.