Mark Jackson made a stir last month when he gave Houston's James Harden the edge in the NBA MVP race over Stephen Curry, despite Curry's strong support of Jackson when he was on the hot seat with the Warriors.
Upon revisiting the subject Thursday, two days after Curry received the MVP trophy from commissioner Adam Silver in a pregame ceremony at Oracle Arena, the former Warriors coach did not change his mind.
"The easy route was to go and say Steph. That's easy," Jackson said on Dan Le Batard's ESPN Radio Show. "I'm not saying he wasn't worthy. I'm not even saying he didn't deserve it. I just had to make a pick.
"I love him. I'm happy for him. I'm proud of him. Tremendous speech. Tremendous accomplishment. I wish him nothing but the very best and we move on."
Noting his work ethic as an ESPN analyst, Jackson attempted to explain the process – never takes the easy way out, avoids shortcuts – by which he reached his MVP decision, for which he did not have a vote. It didn't exactly clarify the issue.
"I'm going to do my job to the best of my ability," he said. "And that's not saying James Harden didn't deserve it. So anybody that thinks I'm shading or hating, or all of that, I picked the guy that wound up No. 2 in the voting.
"But I'm happy for Steph and he deserves it. We move on. That's a question for Steph to answer. But my feelings have not changed toward him. I think he's a great individual and I'm extremely proud of him and I still love him."
Jackson drew a parallel between his affection for ESPN partner Jeff Van Gundy, a former coach under whom he once played, and Jackson's belief that another former coach Rick Pitino, was the better coach.
"And Jeff Van Gundy does not get upset, because he appreciates Rick Pitino's greatness," Jackson said. "It doesn't take anything away from Jeff being an incredible coach, and a great coach of mine. And a friend and a guy I love.
"So if you can't understand that, I'm just making a decision, and I had to make one."
Jackson attributed any blowback from his previous comments as attempts "to create nonsense and create friction." Curry was surprised and seemed disappointed with Jackson's choice of Harden but did not criticize his former coach.
It should be noted, too, that Curry made no mention of Jackson in his speech when accepting the MVP award.
As for Jackson, he said there no hard feelings.
"From my end, that'll never take place," he said. "I'm forever grateful for how he conducted himself as a player of mine. I'm forever grateful for who he is as an individual and the accomplishments that he had. There will never be no issues between him and I as far as I'm concerned. I wish him nothing but the very best. And I'm going to love him."