Phil Jackson arrived early, a full hour before shoot-around. His tall chair was back where he liked it but he didn’t sit. Instead, he walked out to center court, closed his eyes and took a long, slow breath. He was back and relishing that which lay before him – the path would be long and difficult and filled with learning moments. And then a soft chiming sound and the arena around him blurred at the edges and slipped away.
“Phil? It’s time to get up. I brought your tea.”
The lovely blonde woman set the cup down on his nightstand and smiled. She had been his partner for many years now, balancing the difficult tasks of managing the team’s sizable fortune, adapting to new business models and navigating dysfunctional family shoals that seemed best-suited for cable.
Phil rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Are you headed into the office?”
“Yes, I have to. I don’t suppose you want to come to the game tonight?”
“You would be supposing correctly. Who’s on tap by the way?”
“Utah. We could watch it on TV instead? I’ll bring sushi and tempura.”
He shrugged. “If you want. What’s going on in the standings?”
Her voice sounded just a little tight. “Three games out of last place.”
Phil found his slippers and padded over to the nightstand. He picked up the cup and saucer and took a sip. Tazo Zen with just a hint of honey. He exited the room, stooped but still tall.
She called after him. “So what are you going to do today, Phil?”
A lazy yawn drifted from the next room. “I think I’ll take my tea down to the beach. The morning is filled with promise and adventure.”
“Okay then. I guess I’ll see you later?”
DISSOLVE TO LINKS:
Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times writes that the Lakers don’t even talk a good game.
Bill Plaschke at the Times asks if Dwight Howard has the brass to be the future of the franchise.
Zach Lowe & Bill Simmons go one-on-one in Grantland, on the Lakers’ woes.
Beckley Mason at TrueHoop takes a look at Steve Nash’s defense.
Larry Coon at ESPN explains why Lakers fans shouldn’t look toward the next draft for answers.
Kevin Ding at the OC Register relays that the Lakers are sticking with Mike D’Antoni.
Janis Carr at the OC Register reports that Dwight Howard’s shoulder has been cleared for continued activity.
Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk wonders if Dwight and Mike can co-exist.
The Great Mambino at Silver Screen and Roll takes a crack at charting a Lakers course to the playoffs.
Arielle Moyal at Lakers Nation offers news and rumors; an unsolvable conundrum.
Jeanie arrived halfway through the first quarter and set a large takeout bag down on the coffee table. It was filled with tempting aromas. Phil had already settled into a large leather recliner in front of a sensibly-sized flat screen.
“That smells good. What is it?”
“I got you diver scallops, tiger cry and teriyaki chicken. And beer.”
“Excellent. And what are you having?”
“Sashimi and goat cheese. Jim was being a total pill today by the way. What’s going on with the game?”
“Down by ten. They finally let Pau in.”
Jeanie squinted. “Where? I don’t see him.”
Phil pointed. “He’s way over there.”
“Have I ever told you how unceasing change turns the circle of life?”
“Yeah. Like a million times.”
“You want to hear about it again?”
Jeanie began taking the food out of the boxes and setting it out on plates. “Sure Phil, why not.”
“Where I don’t see him?”
“He’s way over there.”
This makes me sad
Chris J says
Not sure whether that made me want to laugh or cry.
Also not sure Phil could have made a difference with this roster, though he could hardly have made things worse.
At what point can we begin to refer to Dwight Howard’s expiring contract as an asset? This week? Next week?
On its website the Jazz is holding a contest to let a winner and nine friends spend the night doing a “sleepover on the court” at their arena. For a second I thought the headline was a reference to the Lakers’ season.
Dave, your writing is the coolest.
Black comedy…funny and sad.
jerry ross says
pretty hilarious! oh why can’t buss suck it up and get pj back? fire dantoni – never liked him from day one as the lakers head coach. jim buss is destroying the laker organization. better be careful what we wish for – he might fire dantoni and then hire dunleavy or chaz. how did the lakers fall so fast? wth is going on?
lil pau says
Jeanie: Honey, how come when you wouldn’t play Pau and Andrew together down the stretch but instead played Lamar at the 4 and set him up him at the three point line, you were considered a genius, but when D’Antoni struggles to play his two bigs at the same time and brings Pau away from the basket, everyone considers him an idiot?
Phil: That what we call Zen. By the way, do you hear the seagulls tonight? It almost sounds like they’re saying ‘we want Phil, we want Phil?’
Jeanie: Especially when the wind blows west. Hey, by the way, do you know if we get that funny new Time Warner channel? I’m told they’re running this hilarious satire in which Mitch tells Dwight he hopes to see his jersey on the wall someday beside the all-time greats.
Phil: That’s awesome. I told you when he locked up Steve Blake for four years: the guy is a comic genius.
Jeff T says
Dave, thanks for your little Phil moment. It really set me at ease. I am still hoping that at some point we see Mike D start becoming fuzzy on the edges and he somehow disappears altogether. I honestly would prefer Mike Brown at this point.
The Laker roadmap to the playoffs:
1) Beat someone, anyone.
2) Beat everyone else.
So, I saw this spreadsheet on SSR about post touches. Take a look at these numbers.
Dwight Howard is ranked #2 in post touches, but he ranks 38th in points per post up. What exactly does he want? Hell…look at his TO%
I loved that day in the life of Phil Jackson! Thanks for helping to ease the pain of this horrible season.
Dave Murphy says
Thanks y’all. It’s been a wretched season so far. About all I have to offer is cyber sushi. Wish it was more.
rr: None of us “know” anything about what might have been or what could be. That said, using that as a defense means someone can never be wrong. For example – I will hire our next coach – or for that matter – I will be our next coach : ) If I succeed – I will declare myself a genius. If I fail – I will say – that the triad of Kundla/Riley/Jackson could not have coached the team, because of roster issues. It is a no lose situation – like I said before – genius. And why are you arguing with me? : ) We agree – keep DH, ditch MD at the end of the year (not now like some are calling for), and I am sure you like my KB plan as well. If you want me to come up with some sarcastic poetry, captioned pictures, or fictional dialogue between the various characters in this soap opera – I can do that too !
And once again – Robert over-rated Dwight Howard (however I am still glad we got him and I still want to keep him)
Once we get a starting PG, our problems will be solved.
Tom Daniels says
This team would not be great with Phil. But it’s hard to believe it would this bad. Phil made productive use of Derek Fisher, Sasha, Farmar, old AC Green and a parade of washed up power forwards, Luc Longly, old Cartwright, BJ Armstrong and the list goes on.
A coach has to put his player in a position to succeed.
And, Lil Pau, LO was a very different player from Pau. He could hit the three. He could beat his man off the dribble. He was a point PF. That’s why that worked and this doesn’t.
There are roster issues. Not here have been injuries. But I have not seen D’Antoni put anything in place that makes this team better. It is damning to Brown And coach D that they played their best when Bernie just rolled about the ball and let them play.
Great post Dave Murphy, it kind of takes the negative sting out of me for tonight’s game. You know, hoping for a win, that may or may not come. I am just sad now days, when I think of what the mighty Los Angeles Lakers have become.
P. Ami says
Jeanie: Phil, Phil? You okay?
Phil: *stares up at the ceiling. He looks green. He wretches*
Jeanie: Phil, my god, Phil. I’ll call 9-1-1
Phil: *eyes are rolling in his eyes* I don’t feel so Zen. *he coughs and brings up some sushi*
Jeanie: *into her phone* Yes, he is responsive. He is trying to talk, but I can’t understand.
Phil: *eyes still wandering* Mumble… mumble… mumble. *points at the plate of sushi*
Jeanie: Yes, that is the correct address. Please hurry. It’s Phil Jackson.
Phil: *points at the plate of sushi* Mumble… where?… Mumble.
Jeanie: Where? Where what?
Phil: *keeps pointing at the sushi* Where?
Jeanie: The sushi? Where did I get the sushi?
Phil: *nods his head*
Jeanie: I got it at the Staples Center, from the buffet.
Phil: *rolls his eyes* Who?
Jeanie: Who made it? *Her eyes become contemplative and suddenly knowing* Oh my god. It can’t be. Baby, baby, you’ll be okay. I’m so sorry.
Phil: *finds the strength to focus on Jeanie’s eyes* Who?
Jeanie: I’m sorry baby. I wasn’t thinking.
Phil: *Phil pukes up his whole dinner in three long wrenching wretches. Looks at Jeanie again* Who?
Jeanie: I’m so sorry. It was Chaz.
So many articles are saying it’s ethier Dwight or D’Antoni. I wonder how Dwight felt about Mike Brown? Defensive minded coach, wanted to play inside out and by all accounts a good people person. Dwight never complained about him but I guess it was management who felt Brown needed to go. Maybe the fo jumped the gun firing brown.
rr: None of us “know” anything about what might have been or what could be.
Perhaps not, but I was responding to your repeated statements that every player on the team is playing worse entirely because of D’Antoni. D’Antoni isn’t doing well, but these guys are playing badly for a variety of reasons–age, injuries, lack of talent, etc. As I have said, I am not a fan of off/on switch analysis. The Lakers need to look at everybody and everything.
Phil to Jeanine
“I told you they should gave listened to those guys on Forum Blue”
Jeanine “yea those guys know a lot about basketball”
Phil. “yea way more then your brother”
Jeanine” I told you I don’t have a brother”
Phil ” oh well. So what’s the weather like in Seattle like today?”
Rusty Shackleford says
I’m definitely not trying to bring Mike Brown back but I think everybody can agree the coach doesn’t match the roster.
Link to a 12-minute SB Nation Vid a SSR breaking down the issues:
Dave Murphy says
Did everybody catch Ding’s new piece on what could happen with future ownership? Man.
“The Lakers need to look at everybody and everything.”
Agreed. That starts at the top and works it’s way down. This is why I am not as adverse to those who want to criticize Kobe as you are. Jim, Mitch, MD, Kobe, and DH. That is the group that determines the Laker’s fate. Get past that group and you are into supporting actors. If the Director, the Producer, the Lead Actor, and the Lead Actress are all the same, you probably have the same movie with the same ending.
If the Director, the Producer, the Lead Actor, and the Lead Actress are all the same, you probably have the same movie with the same ending.
I saw the email. Point taken.
Basketball teams aren’t movies, but to carry the analogy out, some of the Lakers’ supporting actors are community theater level, trying to play roles in an epic. It makes a pretty big difference if you have four or five of these bad actors; they can ruin enough scenes to drag the whole production down.
The video above is tough to watch, but it breaks things down pretty well. There are things in it that are clearly coaching problems; the guy uses the term “lack of defensive philosophy” several times. There are many aspects, however, that have nothing to do with coaching.
the biggest problem the Lakers will face if Howard doenst tell them what his future plans are…If he is leaving for sure then you trade him but if he says he doenst know (and that is his right)then it could be a risk to keep him…..
This is a good point, but, unfortunately, there is no reason to think Howard would show his hand like that.
nice post Dave
Kenny T says
@Big City Sid…
Lakers are valued at $1B. Kobe’s $30M/yr. is 3% of $1B. Don’t you think Kobe is worth that?