Mark Jackson has for years faced allegations that he made homophobic comments that led to a problematic environment when he was the coach of the Golden State Warriors a decade ago.
Allegations have resurfaced as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings showed some interest in hiring Jackson as their next coach.
Despite apparent interest from none other than LeBron James, as well as Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, Jackson is still without a coaching gig. And he may stay that way. Stories and rumors about anti-gay comments by Jackson have floated around for years. Now they’re resurfacing, with some new claims.
We’ve previously written about claims that a rift had developed on the Warriors when Jackson allegedly vocalized opposition to same-sex marriage, despite the team president at the time, Rick Welts, being gay.
Now allegations unearthed by Ethan Strauss claim that at the time he was Warriors coach, “Jackson had referred to Jason Collins and team president Rick Welts, both openly gay, as ‘penis grabbers’ who were ‘going to hell.’”
While these allegations stem from years ago, it’s not hard to understand why they may, in conjunction with other claims of creating a divisive environment, he may have trouble getting out from under them.
The Kings, for example, have many out LGBTQ employees — at least seven as of 2020 — and create a powerful pride night and develop yearlong relationships with the local LGBTQ community. The Lakers have also made embracing the LGBTQ community a priority; One night I got to have dinner with Kurt Rambis and Linda Rambis, both team decision-makers, and they were eager to talk about LGBTQ inclusion and how to create an inclusive environment on an NBA team.
Unless Jackson were willing and able to publicly distance himself from alleged remarks and outright reject them, it would be hard for either of these two teams to hire him. Given the NBA’s public push for LGBTQ inclusion, it would be tough for any team to hire him.
Despite him landing media jobs talking about the NBA, Jackson’s alleged homophobia may keep him from ever coaching in the NBA.
What does Jackson’s future hold? Impossible to say. If he does get hired by an NBA team as a coach, he will have to specifically address these allegations and how he feels today about Collins, Welts, same-sex marriage and LGBTQ people in general.