St. John’s Legend Returns to the
Mark Jackson ’87CBA, the greatest assists man in St. John’s
history, has come a long way since his days in Queens. After a
successful NBA career, “Action” Jackson stepped into the
broadcasting booth, calling games for YES Network, ESPN and ABC.
Starting in June 2011, he’s been tackling a new career: Head Coach
of the Golden State Warriors.
We caught up with Mark to talk about his new job, his thoughts on
the Red Storm and about his longstanding relationship with
Hall-of-Fame Head Coach Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60GEd, ’00HON.
How have you enjoyed your
experience so far as an NBA Head Coach?
Jackson: It’s been a lot of fun, a dream come true. The Warriors is
a great organization with great ownership, and we truly have the
best fans in the business. I’ve got a terrific group of guys here
who are buying into what I’m asking them to do, and I love the
direction we’re headed.
You played under some great coaches during
your career, one of whom being Coach Carnesecca. What was the most
important lesson you learned from him that you’ve adopted into your
own coaching style?
There’s no question about Coach Carnesecca’s record, about his
Hall-of-Fame credentials, about his basketball genius. But the
thing that truly stood out to me is that he cared about every
individual he ever coached, and he made me a better person in
addition to a better basketball player. That’s my goal as well.
It’s not just about winning games. I’d love to do that, but it’s
also about having relationships with your players 10, 15, 20 years
down the line. Coach Carnesecca is a guy that I love – a
Hall-of-Fame coach and a Hall-of-Fame person.
What did Coach say when you told him you
got the Golden State job?
He told me to make sure my best player doesn’t take the ball out of
bounds – that’s a true story. But he also encouraged me and told me
how proud of me he was, how exciting a time it is for me.
Your former teammate, Chris Mullin ’98CBA,
was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
last summer. How proud were you to see your friend receive that
It’s a tremendous honor not only for Chris, but for St. John’s and
for New York City basketball. I’m extremely proud to have played
against him in high school, with him in college, and both with him
and against him in the NBA. You can’t find a more deserving guy, a
guy who maximized everything he had in his tank. I’ve told people a
thousand times: I would not have been a pro had I not met
Chris Mullin. He taught me how to put the time in at the gym and
maximize everything I had. So it was truly a great honor for Chris
and his family.
After you finished playing
professionally, you became a very popular broadcaster. What did you
learn from that experience?
I had the privilege and honor of working with some great people.
With Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen, what you saw on TV was exactly
who we were: three guys that enjoyed, respected and loved each
other. If you sat in on a dinner date with us, you’d hear the same
type of conversation – we argued, debated and messed with each
other. I also worked with great guys like Ian Eagle, Marv Albert
and Mike Tirico, guys who made those years very enjoyable for
You’re well known for some of your
colorful catch phrases, including “Hand down, man down” and “You’re
better than that!” Did you plan those phrases ahead of time or did
they come naturally to you on the air?
They actually happened naturally. I’m a guy who, back in practice
and during games, would like to trash talk and have fun, so I’d
always share a few quick phrases with my teammates. I took the same
approach with calling games. Coming from New York City and playing
in the parks, that was the mentality – always trash talking and
You were at the forefront of one of St.
John’s most popular eras, so you’ve seen how electric the Garden
can get. How important is St. John’s basketball to New York
It’s very important. When you talk about the history of New York
City basketball, you can’t have a conversation without mentioning
St John’s, even going way back. And it’s fantastic that St. John’s
is back in that conversation.