Some day of Game One thoughts:
â€¢ I have no idea what Phil Jackson is going to say tonight in his pre-game interview on ABC â€” he may say heâ€™s taking the Lakers job, may say he wants to sit out a year, may dodge the question entirely, may say he wants to marry Jeannie. Well, probably not that last one.
My guess is not heâ€™s not going to say much of anything. If he does announce he took the job in that interview, it would be a big slap in the face of the Los Angeles media. To make the announcement in a national broadcast and not give the scoop to the local publications and stations would fly in the face of how things are traditionally done. That said, the Laker organization has had an obvious frustration with the Los Angeles media this past year â€” particularly area columnists who essentially took the Shaq side of the story in the end of the Laker dynasty. If Phil does announce on ABC, it will show just how pissed the organization is.
â€¢ For those that want to know, hereâ€™s a quick rumor roundup: Laker team sources saying Phil takes the job today; Kobeâ€™s people saying that is not the case, he is staying out for a year and Brian Shaw will be the next Laker coach. Buss had ego clashes with Phil and thatâ€™s an issue. Jeannie is now saying plans won’t be announced. Everyoneâ€™s got an agenda, so take it all for what itâ€™s worth.
â€¢ If you want to see a perfect example of why the Laker organization is frustrated with the local media, check out JA Adandeâ€™s poorly thought out column in the LA Times from the end of the Heat/Pistons series. Itâ€™s not just a â€œthe Lakers never should have traded Shaqâ€ mentality (an opinion that is at least defensible) but comments like this:
It’s interesting that owner Jerry Buss helped explain the Lakers’ 34-48 season by lamenting injuries to Vlade Divac, Devean George and Lamar Odom but never considered the injuries to Karl Malone and even Horace Grant last year when deciding to break up the old team.
There are a couple of things wrong he, but hereâ€™s the big one â€” by the end of last season this team was going to break up whether Buss wanted it to or not. Either Shaq was going to go via trade or Kobe via free agency. They were not going to play together again. Bussâ€™ only choice was which player to keep, not whether or not to break up the team.
â€¢ While Iâ€™m venting, let me mention problem with Adandeâ€™s column and with the coverage of the end of the Shaq/Kobe era in general â€” what took that team down was less their egos and more the supporting pegs around them being knocked out. But thatâ€™s never discussed.
Look at the other key members of the lineup from the first Laker title team: Glenn Rice, Ron Harper, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Brian Shaw, Derek Fisher. As the team moved through the next five seasons the surrounding cast got much older and poor decisions were made by management â€” resigning Devean George and Slava to overpriced deals, drafting Kareem Rush instead of Tayshon Prince, expecting Horry and Fox to play bigger roles as their bodies aged, just to name a few.
How did management address that problem â€” bring in two well-aged future Hall of Famers and make one more run at it. Both showed their age â€” Payton through his play and Malone through injuries â€” and so the team falls short because Kobe and Shaq canâ€™t do it all on their own.
If youâ€™d seen smart moves â€” like youâ€™ve seen in San Antonio â€” Kobe and Shaq may have stayed together because they were winning titles. Weâ€™ll never know because they werenâ€™t given the chance.
But read the local papers or listen to the radio and itâ€™s Kobeâ€™s fault. Or Shaqâ€™s. Whatever.
â€¢ Oh, about that game tonight. I think the most interesting part will be to see who is matched up on whom. A quick prediction for the series â€” look for Brent Barry to have a big one. At times the Spurs are going to shoot over the top of the Pistons defense and Barry is the guy who can do that best.