A Course in Championships from Phil Jackson

Jeff Skibiski —  June 23, 2010

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Growing up, I always remember my grandfather would make a point of trying to make a “life lesson” out of every little situation. He would sit back in his easy chair, flip the remote to whatever featured game was on TNT that night and share his words of wisdom about life and basketball. While I was eagerly anticipating the next great dunk by Kobe, he would labor on and on about the war and character, among other topics I tried to ignore at the time. Despite my best efforts, I realized years down the road that I actually absorbed a good amount of what he said.

In many ways, I think Phil Jackson has spent the better part of the past decade serving as the grandfather of the Lakers family. His unique vision has guided the Forum Blue and Gold through murky waters and heavenly heights. At the beginning of the decade, Jackson transformed an upstart, but immature Shaquille O’Neal-led squad into three-time champions. In 2003-‘04, he provided the glue that kept the team together when Bryant was flying back and forth between L.A. and Colorado courtrooms. After returning to his usual perch after a one-season hiatus, Jackson planted the seeds of success on a rag-tag team whose nightly outcome depended on Kobe’s heroics. Most recently, he was the commander in chief behind another back-to-back championship Lakers team. As of Wednesday, June 23, he is arguably one of the biggest free agents on the market this summer. With a decision on his future likely looming in the next few days, let’s take a step back and look at 11 lessons (in honor of the Hall of Fame coach’s record-setting number of NBA titles) that fans and players have accrued over the years.

1. Composure starts at the top. Through all of the volatility during Jackson’s Lakers tenure, his calming influence has served as the one constant that has helped steady the team amidst incredible turmoil. His now legendary decorum extends beyond off-court tension and dramatic losses; Phil also knows how to keep his team focused coming off a monumental victory too, as evidence by his teams’ remarkable winning percentage in closeout games. Over the course of an 82-game season and grueling two-plus months of playoff basketball, it makes all the difference.

2. Never underestimate the value of communication. Phil reminds me of a college professor with an “open door” policy; he has always made himself available to players and the media in a manner that few NBA coaches, past or present, have been able to match. Jackson refuses to coddle his players and is particularly selective when doling out praise. He also has no qualms with being direct with his players and letting them know exactly what he expects of them. There is a reason why so many players attribute Phil with their on-court improvement as he sets the bar higher than anyone else does.

3. Sharing is for grown-ups too. The very foundation of the triangle offense is built on passing, which is why Jackson has consistently made a point out of sharing the ball, dating back to his days as coach of the Bulls. It is a difficult mantra for players to buy into, especially superstars like Bryant and Michael Jordan, but once the sale is made, the results are incomparable.

4. Check your ego at the door. Jackson has had the good fortune of coaching some of the greatest players of all-time. While that unprecedented level of talent has led him to 11 NBA championships, it has also bred overconfidence from players at times. Phil never lets those egos get in the way of the team’s mission though; he is not afraid to knock a player off a pedestal when necessary. If Kobe has a 9-33 shooting night in a 22-point Lakers loss, Jackson will make sure his discontent is verbalized. Despite any in the moment anger, his players respect him as a result.

5. Quickly put out fires. I am not sure that there is another coach in NBA history – in all of sports for that matter — who has had to deal with more internal conflict than Jackson. It is perhaps this point more than any other that separates him from the pantheon of the league’s coaching elite. From MJ’s notorious stubborn streak, the Shaq vs. Kobe saga and the recent Ron Artest Twittergate, Phil has proven adept at diffusing fires and managing overpowering personalities.

6. Sometimes, you just need a pat on the back. As I mentioned before, Jackson’s definition of nurture does not exactly involve hugs and spoon-feeding. Instead, the coach adopts a more even keel approach that gently pushes players along without allowing them to become too excited or feel too down after a particular performance. Andrew Bynum, a player with whom Jackson has continually prodded seemingly since the day he was drafted, is the best example of this. Aside from the occasional gripe about playing time, Bynum has become one of the coach’s most outspoken champions.

7. Surround yourself with good people. Jackson happily relinquishes the role of dictator when it comes to coaching, instead employing a more communal style that involves an entire coaching staff or in his terms, a council of elders. Those who have watched a Lakers practice know that Phil’s voice is far from the only one heard. By spreading the love, Phil ensures that each of his players receives an equal amount of attention.

8. Let your freak flag fly. Meditation and carefully selected literature are not the only things that make the Zen Master one of the quirkiest characters the league has ever seen. Players and fans may scoff at his often-bizarre tactics, but with 11 championships, no one is complaining.

9. Mind games are not always for crazy people. Jackson knows exactly when and how to rattle his opponents. If you don’t believe me, just ask the trail of star players that the Lakers have left in their dust over the years. From rattling the Kings at the beginning of the decade to his public statements about Kevin Durant’s disproportionate number of foul shots, Phil is a true master of manipulation.

10. Keep your stars aligned. No matter what anyone says, it takes a special coach to lead a star-filled team in the entertainment capital of the world. Shaq, Kobe, Gasol, Malone and Payton are just a few if the Hall of Fame-worthy Lakers players with whom Jackson has molded. Part of keeping your stars aligned also involves the role of supporting characters like Robert Horry, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom — something with which Phil has an intimate understanding. This delicate balancing act has resulted in five NBA titles in L.A. and potentially more on the horizon should he choose to return.

11. Expect the best. Jackson’s ear-splitting, manufactured whistle is often heard all the way up in the rafters at STAPLES Center, but overall, he is not a yeller in the same vein as a Pat Riley type of coach. Nevertheless, Jackson expects greatness from his teams, with anything else serving as a huge disappointment. His level of confidence and championship mentality permeates all areas of the team. Simply put, players who are coached by Phil wind up as better people both on and off the court.

Truth be told, it is virtually impossible to boil Jackson’s lessons down to the 11 we have highlighted. I suspect his value to the NBA is something that will only be fully celebrated after he eventually hangs up his dream catcher once and for all. Just like the day John Wooden left the game of basketball, this league will never be the same again. If last Thursday’s thrilling Game 7 victory was indeed the last cigar Phil will ever smoke, it has been a fantastic ride, filled with lessons Lakers fans and players will never forget.

Jeff Skibiski

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48 responses to A Course in Championships from Phil Jackson

  1. Great post. Now I’m starting to get a little worried. I wonder if there’s any way that Buss can convince Phil to come back on a reduced schedule next season, and designate Brian Shaw as the heir apparent.

  2. Seriously, a fantastic post from Jeff. We’ll touch on this topic more over the next few days, but here’s hoping Phil is back to lead this team for another run at the ring.

  3. With point #9 in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phils statement about possibly retiring was meant for Buss’ ears as an attempt to gain some leverage in the contract negotiations.

  4. I was on cloud 9 after seeing Team USA beat Algeria in dramtic fashion. Then I saw the news of Phil leaning toward retirement. It was an instant kill-joy. I know a legend like Phil can’t coach forever. Still I can’t bear the thought of him leaving.

    ONE MORE YEAR, PHIL!!!

  5. Buzzkill, indeed. Phil leaving is something I cannot abide, Dude.

  6. The biggest lesson I get from His Philness is to put players in a position to take charge. Practice the heck out of the right way to play, and give them power to make decisions on court, not just run your plays like puppets.

  7. I think that as long as phil’s willing to come back, buss and the lakers will do all they can to accomodate. there’s just too much pressure in the possibility of falling short of a 3peat going without phil, and how that’ll negatively affect buss’ reputation. it’s also not the kind of pressure the lakers would want to place on a new coach, even when it’s shaw.

  8. Dexter Pittman (Texas), anyone?

    This just in: Phil just messin’ with ya.

  9. Does anyone really think Phil is going to not be back this year? Phil is in the business of winning championships not turning them away. The only reason he won’t be back is if he knows Kobe has to under go a serious knee surgery this summer. Other than that he will be back… he just loves the attention and knows “contemplating” retirement isn’t bad for the negotiations of a new contract. Rest easy Lakers fans.

  10. Perhaps even worse than the thought of PJ leaving is the slightest possibility that Jeff Van Gundy might take his place.

    nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

  11. i’m more worried about byron scott taking over than phil leaving.

    he has the worst qualities of a players’ coach(tries to curry favor with stars) and an authoritarian coach(eventually grates on team and is tuned out).

  12. Mike Penberthy June 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    PJ and Mitch didn’t coordinate very well.

    Speaking after Phil, Mitch said he would be “very surprised” if Phil will not coach next year.

    What’s going on here?

  13. If Phil Jackson was honestly leaning toward retirement, he would keep it private, it would not be plastered on ESPN as a headline. This is more a leverage move than anything else. Not saying that he will be back 100%, just that we don’t really know anything new with his “leaning toward retirement” comment.

  14. I’m not worried about Phil retiring. He’s just trying to make that pay cut the front office wants him to take as small as possible.

    Great post Jeff! Our team would never have made it to where it is today without Phil Jackson. Let’s give the man his due and acknowledge how much we appreciate that he’s been willing to work with the Lakers as long as he has.

  15. I think the greatest mark of Phil’s success as a coach has been the 48-0 mark he established having never lost a series after winning Game 1. What it tells me is that Phil Jackson has never lost with a superior team. He has always gotten the most out of his teams; they have never underachieved.

  16. excellent piece

    #11 dont dis BS4, half his head coaching playoff losses are against Phil, three of his total four eliminations. Not a lot of coaches win against Phil Jackson, those who do, usually get a ring for the accomplishment. Not much worry about losing to the best ever if you can learn from the experience.

  17. #16/tsig, it’s not the losses that bother me.

  18. So far, Phil is four for four in championships with Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest. How amazing is that? He got two such disparate personalities to mesh with their teammates enough to succeed in winning a championship EVERY TIME he was their coach.

  19. Ugh…loved Byron the player. As a coach? Not so much.

  20. The only problem I can see with getting B scott or B shaw is that kobe played with these two guys, and I dont know if he will necessarily listen to everything they say. if phil does indeed leave, even though i just said Kobe won’t listen, promoting b shaw might be the right choice because we could keep the system the same and there wouldnt be a major overhaul as far as a system is concerned. the other two to three candidates we should try to go after are Coach K again, Jeff van gundy im not sure why the person above doesnt like the idea, he took an 8 seed to the finals and the rockets were always solid with him at the helm, he preaches defense and would be someone with a reputation the guys might listen to, also the last choice and this is probably a pipe dream would be pat riley, im just trying to think of people with known accomplishments, i love rambis but NO WAY can he be our guy…well lets hope phil is back and we can work on our three peat..great write up though jeff

  21. Wow, this is eerie. Just this morning I was thinking about how Daequan Cook could have fit it semi-nicely as a shooter off the bench (Sasha role); he’s improved defensively to the point where he’s no longer a liability. And now Sam Presti takes advantage of a money situation again, swooping in and getting Cook and the #18 pick.

    Jeff Van Gundy looks naked without Mark Jackson and Breen.

    One thing I wanted to add to Zephid’s earlier post – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us sell one or both of our 2nd-round picks. We’ve talked about how a 2nd-rounder will be cheaper than Mbenga. But with the reported value of a 2nd-round pick at $3 million, I wouldn’t be suprised to see Buss sell the pick (if he can get upwards of $3 for it) and keep Mbenga or mine the D-League.

    I hope he doesn’t. As a fan, it’s so much more fun to watch the draft when your team has stake in it. It’s fun to see what kind of gems Mitch can unearth. It’s fun to watch those players develop. I’m hoping for a fun draft night tomorrow.

  22. Just by watching Phil on the side line has taught me a great deal about the lessons in life. I just love the way he is willing to loose a game or two during the regular season just to let his players learn about the composure and poise for the real big games. As a student of zen teaching, I can sense how he understands the nature of people and channel the energy into greater competitive strength. Some people may see it as being manipulative, but in the end, those players who have worked with him for a long time, all have accomplished much more on and off the court.

    I also like the way he lets his players solve problems and play thru opponents’ stretch of hype and energy by not calling time-outs too frequently. I think in real life, I have learned that emotional detachment by allowing others to work out their problems, and step in when really needed, thus making a sound point.

    Phil is somewhere relaxing and getting the rest he deserves, while other coaches are juggling for empty spots, and owners watch as who is going where. By the time draft is over, he will emerge with a decision that makes a big splash. It is truly a beauty to watch how he is able to maneuver this kind of games with exceptional intelligence and patience.

  23. Zephid – “He has always gotten the most out of his teams; they have never underachieved.” True, with the possible exception of the ’04 melt down against Detroit.

    In addition, his teams have often overachieved, ie the Shaq/Kobe three- peat teams.

  24. Mimsy: “I’m not worried about Phil retiring. He’s just trying to make that pay cut the front office wants him to take as small as possible.”

    I completely agree. Quote of the day, actually. He’s clearly finally started to leverage his deal via the media.

    And Zephid: “I think the greatest mark of Phil’s success as a coach has been the 48-0 mark he established having never lost a series after winning Game 1. What it tells me is that Phil Jackson has never lost with a superior team. He has always gotten the most out of his teams; they have never underachieved.”

    Also 100% true; I was actually just thinking along those exact lines. Also, don’t forget: 54-1 when taking any lead in a series (the one being the loss to Phoenix), and 46-1 with HCA (the one being Detroit). And thinking back, our Smush-Kwame team certainly wasn’t the better team (vs. Nash et al.) and we actually played more games in Detroit thanks to the 2-3-2 format. So yes, this guy never, ever disappoints. Absolutely amazing.

    55-8 in all playoff series. That’s an 87% win percentage, kids. 11 championships in 19 tries. He’s won more championships than he’s lost playoff series!

  25. This is completely off-topic, but I could watch Martin Tyler’s call of Landon Donovan’s goal over and over and over again and never get tired of it. It’s like Bob Costas’ call of the Shaq-Kobe alley-oop, just perfectly captures the sheer exhilaration and excitement of the moment.

  26. Soccer sucks.

  27. Zephid,
    Sorry old friend… Martin Tyler would have had a memorably call on that USA goal… but he was busy calling the England/Slovania game ;) Btw… Jozy Altidore might become the first elite American footballer. He has the size and strength to put pressure on defenses (something no USA player has ever been able to do before) and the kid is only 20 years old and will get better plenty as he now starts playing against premiership competition.

  28. I have a question – and I’m hoping to pick some of the bright minds here at FB&G.

    While I realize that my friend doesn’t really deserve an explanation, etc., I am curious about this topic as well.

    We are all well aware of Phil Jackson’s success. The titles, the winning records, the marks in first games and closeout games. My friend, however, always belittles Phil’s accomplishments using the now popular reason that Phil’s success has come solely because he’s had great (some of the greatest) players ever.

    Intuitively, I know this is wrong. Phil’s 11 titles aren’t a coincidence. Furthermore, Phil won a title with the CBA before even coaching in the NBA. He also had success coaching in Puerto Rico.

    The list above isn’t quite as concrete, but what exactly do you guys think make Phil such a great coach? And more general, to what extent do coaches impact the game? What can you tell someone to try and logically persuade a rational person that a coach is an important part of a team?

    (My buddy always rants that Phil’s overrated and that as example, he’s a horrible coach because he doesn’t use one of the best jump shooters in the league (kobe) effectively by setting him nice pics. He also mentions things like, Doc Rivers completely outcoached him in the Finals – as Bsoton was scoring so easily on some possessions).

    Thoughts?

  29. Regarding #1, what is PJ’s record in closeout games anyway? I knew it was spectacular for Lakers these couple years but what about his other teams? Its definitely the mark of a great coach to keep your players motivated in closeout situations.

    btw great article Jeff.

  30. i like the british espn announce teams, and the univision teams(and I don’t even understand spanish).

    how awful has alexi lalas, the so-called analyst, been? how does somebody talk so much but say so little?

  31. #28. gxs,
    Phil’s great strenth (imo) is creating the environment where great players come together to form a great team. This is no small feat and he’s repeatedly accomplished it with a wide array of players and personalities. He’s capably reeled in players like Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq and fostered an environment where their fantastic talents are incorporated into a team environment and gotten them to buy into how their talents, while singular, aren’t enough to win without the team. I really can’t say enough about how difficult this actually is. I mean other teams have had great players too. Great players that have been capable of winning championships? And Phil has won more than any other coach.

    Also, understand that players legacies are built on their success as winners. As you noted, people often try to diminish Phil’s accomplishments by stating that he’s had the best players. However, players are often labeled as the best purely off the win totals; by the number of rings they have. So, is Phil less a coach because he had Michael Jordan? Or is Michael Jordan ever really *Michael Jordan* without the winning that he accomplished under Phil Jackson? That’s a bit of the chicken and the egg question, I know. But look at the win rate and championships earned by Phil’s all time greats before he was their coach.

    Whether or not these are convincing arguments, I’m not sure. But Phil is the most non traditional coach we’ve seen and I think that’s what makes it hard to recognize how he achieves what he does. I mean he just sits there right? He’s not yelling at the players. He’s always just reminding them of what they already know and re-centering their focus on the task at hand. He’s shown them everything they need to know in practice and in film sessions and focussed their minds on what’s needed and how to accomplish that. After his players have been trained and schooled in what’s needed to be done to succeed he gives them the freedom to accomplish it and then re-routes them when they get off track. Honestly, we’ll see 10 more Pat Riley’s before we see another Phil Jackson. And I love Riley.

  32. People who aren’t convinced of PJ’s talents by now don’t deserve intelligent conversation on the matter. It’s similar to trying to convince somebody round wheels work better than square ones.

    Honestly, why is it so hard for people to grasp the concept that talented people tend to find each other?

  33. I really like this article, not for the Kobe-MJ comparison, but for this little tidbit: Ron Harper is looking for an assistant coaching job. I’d love to have him here on the sidelines, replacing Rambis’s spot that was never filled. With this team struggling as much as it did with the triangle, Harper and Shaw together on the sidelines can only help.

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/06/22/ron-harper-dishes-on-kobe-mj-debate/

    I agree with Darius. One thing I’d add – we always talk about Phil bringing together superstars and molding them to create the best possible team, because for the majority of his career, he’s had multiple stars on his team. To me, though, 06-07 showed just how complete and versatile a coach he is. To take a 1-star team and define his players’ roles so tightly and squeeze every ounce of potential out of that team (pounding it inside to Kwame and Walton? Could any other coach pull off that discipline, avoiding getting sucked Phx’s tempo?) – that, to me, was a major highlight of his career.

    I take Phil over Riley anyday, but the one thing I think Riley’s shown that Phil hasn’t: Pat Riley has an incredible ability to construct (not just mold) his team’s style based on the personnel. Phil’s always had his [ultimate] system, and the players have had to fit that system (although I give Phil a lot of credit for making the proper adjustments with this latest Lakers team, that could never really pick up the triangle fully). Yet as much as I dislike some parts of Riley the person, I have to give him his props – going from Showtime to the defensive bullies of the 90s takes some serious coaching chops.

  34. @gxs

    First of all, the question can be “Is PJ overrated because he only won with talented players?” This is an idiotic question at face value. Nobody wins without talent. Championship teams always have hall of famers, so this makes PJ no different than any other championship coach. I’ll assume what your friend means is “A. PJ lacks player development abilities, i.e. he won with what was given to him, and B. PJ is not as gifted tactically”

    A. I thought that whole argument took the biggest hit when we won the championship last year. Yes, the turning point was the Gasol trade, but many Lakers have made great strides in becoming better players throughout PJ’s tenure and understanding their roles better.

    Gasol – this is probably the biggest – from the “soft” label & can’t lead his team to playoff wins to hitting the weight room and going toe to toe with Dwight Howard. Gasol has always had natural skills & physical length, but he was pushed by Jackson throughout the season to play heavy minutes, improve his conditioning, become a better rebounder and defensive player. It paid great dividends throughout the playoffs these past two years – Gasol grew from a great player to a dominant player on both ends of the floor and the best big man in the game.

    Bynum – From the youngest player ever drafted, that immature black hole, to defensive presence (esp beginning of this season and flashes during the playoffs). From injury-hampered, trade-bait potential bust to a hardworking professional who sacrificed numbers and understood his role. You can’t tell me that since being drafted out of high school at age 17 everybody saw this coming and coaching had nothing to do with his development.

    Ariza & Shannon Brown – benchwarmers on mediocre teams to dependable contributers in playoff pressure situation on championship teams.

    Farmar & Vujacic – have shown improvement but has somewhat regressed, but could be due to injury, rotation etc. Nevertheless they understand their roles and were able to contribute in the playoffs.

    Luke Walton & Derek Fisher – would these two even have gotten minutes at all on another team the past two years? Probably not. And they wouldn’t have been ready come playoff time to contribute. Seriously, who believed in Derek Fisher all season, despite all notions to the contrary? Fish practically won us one game in the finals & was the primary defender on a hall of fame shooter who struggled all series long. This was huge. Rarely do role players have this significant of impact on a game, let alone a series.

    And finally – Kobe Bryant. Is he talented naturally? Sure, but what has made him not just a great player but a top 10 player of all time is his aggressiveness, his work ethic. The famous story of PJ chiding his veterans but refusing to speak Kobe down because he didn’t want him to stifle his “inner fire” seems to reflect the feverishly driven approach that Kobe takes to preparing & playing the game of basketball. Early on, clearly PJ had an impact.

    And later, during the “second coming” of Kobe’s career, PJ guided Kobe to reinvent himself somewhat and become more of a facilitator. After he developed Kobe’s talents into a hall of fame player, he influenced Kobe’s mental approach to controlling the game.

    B. As for the tactical argument, I think it’s hard to say either way which adjustments have done what. But PJ has had his share of significant decision making – long wings on PG’s, Kobe on Rondo, telling Artest to be more aggressive, Kobe’s shot selection, getting Pau & Kobe the ball in the post against OKC fronting defense, getting back in transition vs. the Suns. I think PJ doesn’t get outcoached, he just doesn’t adjust to the opponent’s adjustments as fast as fans’ patience would allow. He makes you adjust to him whether its strength, size, or speed advantages.

    Moreover, the body of work that it takes to turn a good defensive team to a championship defensive team is as strong a case for PJ being a tactically gifted coach as any.

  35. I thought it’s already been said. Great teams come and go. Alot of them don’t win Championships. Phil Jackson is the best at making sure that doesn’t happen to his teams. What makes him so good is that he does the exact opposite of what all of us are thinking he should do. Then what happens? He pulls out another Championship! There were countless times this season people thought that PJ was losing his edge. We were thinking his old tactics weren’t working this season. Now here we are, talking about his 11th championship.
    PJ is a one of a kind. I don’t know how much Shaw has learned from PJ but my money is on the fact that there will be no predecessor to Phil.

    28- Just tell your buddy to watch other great teams in the league (like Cleveland) and see what happens to them when it counts. Then after he does that, explain to him how that would never happen to a Phil Jackson team.

    Oh BTW Darius- Can we have a speculation post here tomorrow for draft day? I’d hate to see a post about the finals or PJ get swamped with speculation posts. So instead, we could just devote one to the FA topic and such.

  36. I wish we had won a championship with Kwame & Parker, that would’ve laid rest to all those silly PJ questions.

    Or not, but it would be pick your poison for Laker haters, having to choose between the greatness of Kobe or the greatness of Phil.

    Anyway, even if PJ is a so-so coach, the fact that players LISTEN to him is worth every penny and that alone makes him great, if you think about it, since it means he can coach anyone.

    As for him returning… well, 11 is quite enough, but it must be alluring to complete the symmetry and be held as the one and only voice of reason when it comes to comparing Kobe and Jordan.

  37. Phil leaning on retiring… I hate to see him not come back. But in the event that he doesn’t come back, who would be the best candidates to fill his shoes? Will it be better to promote Brian Shaw and continue running the triangle? If we get a Byron Scott or the like, I’m sure they will have their own offensive systems they would like to run

  38. @gxs,

    you’re not going to convince your friend. i have a few of them like that, and you can argue with him all you want, but he’ll still think that doc rivers out coached Phil during the finals, which makes no sense since Doc didn’t win.

    Look, I doubt Phil would be a great college coach or high school coach (then again, i wouldn’t put it past him that he would be), but he is the perfect coach for NBA teams.

    Also, here are some logical counters that I’m sure the others have stated earlier:
    1. Red Auerbach is considered a great coach because of his titles. But look at his rosters for every single one of those championships and count the hall of famers.

    2. Pat Riley’s rosters are full of hall of famers. His lakers teams had Magic, Kareem, Worthy and a lot of really good role players in a league that didn’t have as many teams. If there were more teams during that era, good chance worthy goes somewhere else along with Byron Scott (hypothetical of course).

    3. Larry Brown is considered one of THE best coaches at teaching basketball, but he has one title in his books.

    4. Re: not using Kobe effectively. Michael Jordan was used “traditionally” early on in his career: isos, pick and rolls. count how many titles he won.

    Look, no matter how great Jordan or Kobe are, they’ve never won with another coach. Shaq won one with Riley. Also, let’s not forget that Phil’s first year as a Laker coach was basically the same team from the year prior and it wasn’t successful.

    But, your friend won’t listen.

  39. He just said he made up his mind and he is retiring but he then said he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He’s tired and the salary has to insult him. I’m scared that old Doc Buss has really messed with a good thing. I’m greedy, but all I want is another year out of Phil with another three-peat championship and then he can leave. Is that too much to ask?

  40. What are your thoughts on him serving a role like Tex Winter for Brian Shaw?

    That would be better than being a home-only coach or something. Not required to travel, not held to day-to-day coaching routines, but there enough to yield a presence and reach players, while also giving advice to the new coach.

    PJ may be interested in that kind of a role, although recalling that old Lazenby article makes me think that he wants part of the ownership action…

  41. 27, Oops, my bad. Just assumed it was Martin Tyler because the dude was British. Turns out it was Ian Darke. Agreed on Altidore. He needs to improve his finishing touch and his passing a bit, but his hold-off game is excellent as are his on-ball runs.

  42. I hope he retires on top with no regrets. We all have to move on in life. He could still have some role with the team like Winter. Shaw is the best choice,and he should be able to choose his own staff. Where he will be missed most is the way he managed player personalities when the team under achieved,and the blame game started.

  43. A bit off topic, but since the draft is later today, might as well bring it up. Since Jordan Farmar is a longshot to stay, why not try and move up early in the second round and draft Grievis Vasquez out of Maryland? won’t be a high risk move since it will be a non-guaranteed contract, and they guy can fit in as a role player sometime in the future and is a true competitor. They can sign a blake or another vet for now, so there is no pressure for him to play this year. Will the lakers get a Mbenga replacement with their second round picks?

  44. Kswagger, if the Lakers are interested in Vasquez they might not have to move up to get him. A lot of mock drafts have him around late into the second round. I can see him going anywhere from late 30’s to late 40’s . If they move up, they could potentially get someone like Terrico White from Mississippi, who is long and athletic. More of a combo guard than a traditional PG (and too short for a NBA SG at 6’3 though listed as 6’5) but handles the ball well enough to play the point in the triangle. Not a great shooter though.

  45. I could hardly blame Phil for retiring. As a fan, I’d love to see one more season and ‘chip, of course. But I think the Lakers could win it without him. The lessons have sunk pretty deep.

    I think the main thing with Phil is that he doesn’t flinch and doesn’t panic. Never. Even when Kobe is flailing in a game 7, he doesn’t start screwing up rotations and calling zillions of time-outs. And not only does he maintain discipline in what he does, he also maintains composure, and that can’t help but influence the players.

    He is the greatest. Look at what he has accomplished with Kobe, the player Kobe has become under Phil. That wasn’t happening under Del Harris, or Rudy T.

    If Phil retires, I hope they just promote Shaw. Any other coach will try to put his own stamp on things, and disrupt the continuity of a championship team.

    Remember, this team has Ron Artest on it. We don’t want a coach stirring shit up.

  46. Phillip has a summary of the Lakers exit interviews up in the morning links. Some good stuff if you haven’t already seen them.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/06/24/around-the-world-wide-web-exit-interviews/

  47. Is there a possibility derek fisher could be the first player coach since, lenny wilkens? Much like Wilkins and Russell, leading their teams to a championship.

  48. great post jeff. just read it. i might have to print this one out.