Now the Warriors -- with the help of Jackson, Myers and an ownership group led by Lacob -- are in position to contend for several years behind a strong young core led by point guard Stephen Curry.
"Over the last three years, coach Jackson has challenged me as a player and person," Curry said in a statement. "His experience and guidance has helped each of us grow in this league... Can't thank him enough for all he did for me. I wish him all the best as he transitions to the next chapter."
Jackson, a former NBA point guard who had his best seasons with the Knicks and Indiana Pacers, had never been a head coach at any level when Lacob hired him away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. An ordained minister away from the court, Jackson often spoke of his Christian beliefs and promised to turn the Warriors into one of the best defensive teams in the league and a perennial playoff contender -- and he did.
But Jackson's boisterous personality, at times, did not play well with Warriors management, his staff and -- to a much lesser extent -- his players, most of whom said they wanted him to return, especially Curry. Jackson's demeanor, which bordered on confidence and cockiness, might have ultimately cost him his job.
The pressure on Jackson began when the Warriors decided to pick up his contract option for the 2014-15 season last summer instead of negotiating a long-term deal as he had wanted. Management also encouraged Jackson to hire a strong tactician after top assistant Michael Malone, who had several disagreements with Jackson, left to become coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Instead, Jackson promoted Pete Myers and other assistants and hired Lindsey Hunter and Brian Scalabrine. While reports of rifts within the team surfaced on occasion, dismissing two assistants in a 12-day stretch before the playoffs perpetuated the idea that Jackson had fostered an environment of dysfunction, which Jackson repeatedly refuted.
The Warriors reassigned Scalabrine to the team's Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz on March 25 because of what Jackson called a "difference in philosophies." Then the Warriors fired Darren Erman on April 5 for reportedly recording conversations during coaches' meetings and discussions between coaches and players without their knowledge.
Lacob, who bought the Warriors for a then-NBA record $450 million in 2010 along with Peter Guber, never publicly supported Jackson beyond this season. The lack of support led to a lingering uncertainty that hovered over the team all season.
Several home losses to lesser teams frustrated Lacob more than anything and cost the Warriors a chance to earn anything more than the sixth playoff seed in the West, which they also had a year ago when they upset Denver in the first round before falling to San Antonio. The Warriors still showed a lot of fight -- and an ability to make adjustments -- with center Andrew Bogut out with a fractured right rib, pushing the third-seeded Clippers to seven games.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Jackson's firing proves things in the coaching game have changed.