Congratulations Phil Jackson

Kurt —  September 8, 2007

This weekend Phil Jackson got his well-deserved honor of being inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. To me, the best coaches at every level are the best teachers (say what you will about Larry Brown, he’s been a top college and pro coach for decades because he is such a great teacher).

Jackson is a brilliant teacher too, but just in a way that often drives Lakers fans (and before them Bulls fans) a little nuts. His key teachings are not “Xs and Os” but dealing with the pressures of the game and situations, lessons of self-reliance and self-confidence.

He won’t call a timeout when the other team is on a second quarter run – Phil’s team needs to figure out how to stop it themselves. He gets flack for sitting passively on the bench, seemingly doing nothing while games seem to slip away from his teams. Apparently some people think you need to scream to be a coach.

But then, come the playoffs, Phil’s teams have learned and are applying lessons that others have not. It works — his teams have nine titles in large part because he taught them how to win.

Phil gets knocked for the talent he had at his disposal, which frankly is just a silly argument. First, as JA Adande points out, Red Auerbach rolled out 10 NBA Hall of Famers, but you don’t hear this knock on him. Second, how many very talented teams never win titles? Starting with these very Lakers prior to Jackson’s arrival in Los Angeles.

Jackson took a CBA team from worst to first, he’s shown he can bring along young players. He has a lot of lessons to teach generations of basketball players.

And that’s one good reason he belongs in the Hall. Congratulations from Lakers fans everywhere, Phil!

Kurt

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13 responses to Congratulations Phil Jackson

  1. the other Stephen September 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    oh man, does anyone want to put up the poem that he read?

  2. Kurt,

    Thank you so much for reminding us about Phil. Considering that this could be his last year, even WITH an NBA championship, he really has more at stake than Kobe.

    We must remember that it is amazing that Phil came here at all, disappointing that they let him go when they needed him the most, and, now that they brought him back, surprising that they would let their whole investment ride on the Laker team as currently constituted against Phil’s public statements–especially when Phil substantially supports Kobe.

    Phil’s coaching style is all about basketball intelligence, so when he characterizes last year’s Laker players as “slugs,” he’s looking for trades. In this way of thinking, Parker was escargot (that in no way means that Smush was stupid or unskilled) and Fisher is right up there in basketball brainpower–a huge upgrade. i believe that Bynum is 3rd string on Phil’s depth chart at center, and Lamar Odom doesn’t have a clear postion to play for the Lakers. Kwame is better in the “wrong” position–center. I think that Phil’s slug list would go down if Bynum, Odom, and Kwame were traded.

    To finish my speculation, I think that either Kobe or Phil would strongly approve of a deal that sent Bynum, Brown, and Odom, for Troy Murphy and Jermaine O’neil. Those in Laker management who were budget oriented would not. For Phil, it would mean losing three slugs for a veteran role player and superstar. For Laker management, it would be an immediate negative $5,000,000 that would only get worse.

    Even if this is a bad example, the logic is right. Phil and Kobe, for similar reasons, just will not accept the team as is, and management is so far unwilling to bet the farm on trading this year.

    What would I do? Hey, I’m only a fan. I don’t get paid for making these decisions.

  3. Drrayeye, you must think like a “slug”… like me. Kidding aside, I think the Troy Murphy push is the worst case scenario.

    The Laker management, obviously, is one that thinks about the cap more than they think about Kobe or Phil or Kobe and Phil as the greatest coach/player tandem in the NBA today. They seem not to care enough to salvage all or part of the future for this once in a basketball century tandem. Who could argue that Phil is the greatest ever and still is today? And probably only LeBron James will be the only one to argue that Kobe is the greatest player TODAY. He probably thinks that the nail-biting 22-yr old star is actually better than Kobe for leading a bunch of clowns to the Finals in the weak East? Pardon the vent, this is not about LeBron.

    Phil Jackson reminds us of the important things – that while he may be the greatest coach of all time already, he is still one that does not take “money with mediocrity” as supposed to “meager pay with winnability”. Kobe shares this view that is why Phil’s now-famous interview heavily suggests we do the JO trade.

    If I may ride on the controversy, which I enjoy so much, Phil’s window may be smaller than what the average Laker fan’s mind thinks. Since this year is the last of his whopping 3-yr 30M deal, Phil has said that “Buss does not pay me 10M to be a .500 team.”

    In my subconscious, Phil tells Kobe to play out this year and see what FO does. If they have the balls to do the JO trade, which we now secretly endorse, I might stick around for a year or two more. If not, then what the heck for? I will be retiring to my Montana mansion (and perhaps be given a front office job anyway, Jeannie loves me so much) and “be at peace with the game of basketball”.

    Knowing Phil, I see him more as a motivator than an actual coach of X and O’s. To his credit, might it be safe to say that a team actually needs a motivator for the kids these days better than an actual OXOXO coach?

    Anyway, I like to think that the Laker FO is not numb and dumb enough to think that this team will succeed if not for Phil. Are you kidding me?! Smush, Kwame, Sasha, Brian F-ing Cook ?!? Anyway, I hope they see through the illusion and realize that the Kidd deal was actually “the one that got away” and this JO deal is “redemption”.

    Drrayeye, if it needs be, for Phil and Kobe, heck take in Murphy. They deserve better teammates.

  4. New players, especially when they are lifelong ‘other system’ players, take a while to acclimate to to the triangle. Add to this some of Phil’s other famous statements (al la Kobe in a not-yet-forgotten book) and you have to realize that all of us have to come to our own conclusions.

    Most have admitted that the JO trade – as currently requested by Indiana – would not make the Lakers championship contenders. This being Phil’s last contract year, I fail to see why we should consider any trade that falls short of that criteria. Should Indiana budge or Memphis fall apart I would be all for some moves, but not as currently proposed.

  5. Craig’s right; there is no way you trade Odom in any JO deal as it does not make the Lakers that much better, if any. I can’t believe Indy really wants Odom that bad that they won’t eventually cave for the Brown/Bynum/Farmar/fill trade, especially if they start out poorly as we all suspect they will.

    As for Phil, he is a master motivator, but I think he is not given enough credit by the pundits for his actual X’s and O’s coaching ability. Someone has to be the one calling out plays and I always see Phil yelling stuff to his guards to run. I don’t know. It just seems like Phil is a better coach than a lot of people give him credit for. He’s probably the best coach ever in my opinion. Just look at what he’s done with a mediocre team in the tough as nails West the past two years. Sure, he had Kobe, but he had a lot of injuries, guys who didn’t fit in his system, and he got that team to play balls to the wall the end of that first year/playoffs and the first 50 games last year. Imagine if they could combine those two half seasons and really put something together. If anyone can get them to do it, it’s Phil Jackson.

    That said, it might be time to call Denver and get a better idea of what the price for Camby might be. If it’s Kwame and a pick or Kwame and Farmar, would you really turn it down for the defensive player of the year?

  6. Chise.. I think at this point Denver would be more intereted in moving Evans that they would Camby. Yes I know camby makes a lot more and is injured quite a bit, but as you said he is the reigning defensive player of the year.

  7. Warren (3),

    Inspired post. Made me laugh!

  8. I’ve had this nagging suspician that Kobe’s outburst, coming on the heels of a conversation with Jackson, is classic Phil Jackson playing the motivation game. Recall the emnity that existed in Chicago between Jordan and Bulls management, with Phil lined up squarely with Michael. It seemed to create a special unity and identity on a team that struggled for motivation amidst success.

    Kobe is now exactly where Jackson wants him, trusting him and not the Laker front office. He can forge a team identity around Kobe (he will undo the damage Kobe did in his rant towards teammates) and Kobe will now buy into Jackson’s philosphy, which is what Phil has always wanted Kobe to do.

    Just a speculation…

  9. hebisner,
    Phil is a really great coach, but I trust him about as far as I could throw him. You have the ring of truth bouncing around in my head.

    Nice observation!

  10. I guess Denver did trade Evans to Phily for Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones.
    http://www.nba.com/nuggets/news/hunter_jones_trade_091007.html

  11. I can understand the hesitation Craig, but if you look into the situation, the JO deal does not equate to an instant championship this year, it brings contention aspect which we can build on. Think of it this way – LA is more attractive with Kobe and JO playing alongside each other than Kobe-LO-AB combined. Its the Garnett mystique so to speak.

    Lets consider some hypothetical deals – assuming LO+AB+Cook is traded for JO.

    1. Seattle might be interested in Crittenton + Kwame for WIlcox and Delonte West. We shed off 2M in salaries.

    2. Revisit Denver’s asking price for Camby, perhaps Kwame and Crittenton might be enough.

    3. Wait for teams like Memphis to fall out of contention and realize that the West’s 8th spot is harder than they think. If by this time they deal Pau Gasol to the Bulls, be the 3rd team. Offer Kwame and Critt for Mike Miller and perhaps negotiate Duhon and Noah from the Bulls.

    4. Make the Artest trade (Kwame + Crittenton) or wait for him and Maggette to opt-out next year and sign for the MLE with us. It is only 2M cheaper on the current year of salaries and it spans for 5 long years.

    5. Improve thru role players – Minnesota is looking to move Ricky Davis, Trenton Hassell and Mark Blount. All 3 could fit in nicely for Kwame, Sasha, Crittenton and Evans.

  12. 5. If that Defensive Player of the Year can’t play more games than Kwame, and can’t defend the screen and roll it would be pointless.

  13. I think Phil Jackson’s last two seasons with the Lakers speak louder about his abilities as a coach than his nine rings. Without Kobe the Lakers have one of the weakest all-around rosters in the league. He got them to the playoffs twice, the second coming in the most injury plagued season I can remember any team having.

    Congrats to Phil!!

    As for making moves to placate Phil or Kobe, all moves that would make enough of an impact to speak the words “contender” are more likely to happen at the trade deadline. JO, Camby, Artest, Gasol, etc. have the possibility of being available then depending on how the team’s are doing. Remember, every team, Lakers included are riding the high of positive thinking that comes in the off-season. Everyone likes there chances at this point, but when Indiana is out of the playoff picture come the All-Star break than maybe we JO without giving up Odom. Who knows.