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Mark Jackson Wouldn't Be First "Player To Head Coach" Success Story

Lots of basketball fans, particularly Golden State Warriors fans, are fairly lukewarm on the idea of Jackson coaching a basketball team. He hasn't been very impressive as a television analyst and he'd have to make the jump from being an ex-player to an NBA head coach.

However, we shouldn't dismiss Jackson just like that. As Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated points out, there have been some pretty recent successes concerning former jocks donning the suits and (in the words of Jackson), "just get it done." Here's a brief list.

  • Mike Dunleavy (613-716): Probably the scenario every Warriors fan fears. Dunleavy had some solid seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers (an NBA Finals appearance in his first season!) and particularly the Portland Trail Blazers (one of the worst collapses ever away from another NBA Finals), but most of that was undone with terrible work with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.
  • Don Nelson (1335-1063): A better scenario. Nelson won a lot of games in a lot of places (the Milwaukee Bucks, two stints with the Warriors, the Dallas Mavericks) and his teams were always highly entertaining. Although they never accomplished great success in the playoffs, Nelson was generally successful, and is the winningest coach in NBA history.
  • Larry Bird (147-67): The optimal scenario. Bird was an impressive head coach, taking his Pacers squads (with Jackson) to two Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals. Bird got the most out of his teams, and if not for some bad luck and bad matchups (running into Shaq/Kobe and MJ/Pippen was brutal), there's a good chance he'd have won another ring.
  • Larry Brown (1275-965): Considering how Brown's basketball philosophy meshed with Jackson's, there's a good chance this is the road that Jackson ends up taking. Brown was a nomad, but he won almost everywhere he went, and managed three NBA Finals victories, plus one championship. 

Jackson has been nomadic through his career, so it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up wandering the basketball landscape. But there are many paths he could take as Warriors head coach.

And yes, there's certainly a list of NBA "player to head coach" failures out there. Just don't judge the man because he hasn't done anything right in the past few years.