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!