Phil Jackson is obviously trying to manipulate NBA officials before the playoffs begin. He’s also trying to get into the head of Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant. Jackson’s Lakers are one day away from setting out to defend their NBA title, and Phil has been fined twice in the past two weeks for criticizing the officials. The most recent, which cost Jackson $35,000, is in my opinion completely unwarranted. Here’s what Jackson had to say about Durant, the franchise player of the Lakers’ first round opponent:
As far as the calls that he gets on the floor, I think a lot of the referees are treating him like a superstar; he gets to the line easy and often.”
There’s a lot of things wrong with this coming from the mouth of the ten-time champion head coach. First and foremost, Jackson said refs are treating Durant “like a superstar.” Jackson is implying that Durant isn’t a superstar and doesn’t deserve superstar calls from the refs. Hang on Phil, on what planet is Kevin Durant not a superstar? He just became the youngest player ever to win an NBA scoring title by averaging over 30 points per game at the ripe age of 22. Yes, that’s right, he accomplished a feat that LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan could not. Durant also turned around a troubled franchise in the span of three years, leading Oklahoma City to its first playoff birth since moving from Seattle. I don’t really understand what Jackson meant when he said the officials “treat” him like a superstar. Durant could eventually develop into the best player in the league, and yes I’m aware that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant haven’t retired.
Secondly, isn’t this a bad case of the pot calling the kettle black? Jackson may have more championships rings than any coach in NBA history, but he certainly would have had trouble reaching those heights without his players receiving their own superstar treatment. That’s not to take anything away from the skill-sets of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, but Jackson has been on the receiving end of superstar treatment each season he’s won a title. Superstars are going to get to the line more than average players — that’s the nature of the beast in the NBA. Most of the calls they get are well-deserved, but there are plenty that aren’t.