Ron Artest Reportedly Confronted Phil Jackson Over Public Embarrassment

The Lakers have been struggling recently, losing the Christmas day warmup game to the Bucks, getting hammered by the Heat, and getting spanked by the Spurs and gasp! Grizzlies. Phil Jackson’s coaching methods that typically are termed “genius” when the team is winning have now been deemed problematic since the team is losing. One such person who has struggled with Phil’s coaching style is Ron Artest, who has complained about being publicly embarrassed by his coach dating back to last season. Artest has admitted to being lost in the team’s offense, and it’s clear his fragile psyche is not responding well to Jackson.

According to a recent story at Yahoo! Sports, “at a recent practice, league sources said, Artest loudly confronted Jackson. As he tried to fit into the defending champions a season ago and earn his way, Artest grudgingly went along with Jackson’s public floggings. This season, Artest has less tolerance for it. Essentially, Artest told Jackson that if he wants to coach him, coach him. Just stop embarrassing him in public.”

The message is the same as last year, but the report that Artest loudly confronted Jackson suggests the situation has escalated. It’s information like this that confirms what Artest’s brother recently suggested about Ron’s future with the team. As for the Lakers, they’ll likely turn things around, but it’s hard to say they’re better than Boston, Miami, or San Antonio. Another three-peat seems unlikely at this point, but not out of the question.

If Health Is Issue, Phil Should Retire

Last week the LA Lakers won their second consecutive NBA Championship. The win gave Phil Jackson his 11th title as a head coach and already had Kobe Bryant thinking Jackson would retire. Jackson, who is 64, said that his mind might be made up about whether or not he will return to coach the Lakers next season, which is something he’s been hinting at since last January. Jackson said on Wednesday, “I’m leaning towards retiring but I have not made up my mind.”

So should Jackson retire or try for the three-peat? Honestly, it all comes down to his health. I think if Jackson is healthy enough he will come back and give it a shot at ending his career with his third three-peat of championships. Then again, there’s no guarantee that the Lakers will win again next year, so maybe ending on a high note is the best move.

There’s really no point for Jackson to come back if he isn’t healthy. Coaching isn’t an easy job, even if you are Phil Jackson, and it would just cause unneeded stress for him. Plus, he could get sick during the season and thus be unable to coach anyways.

I say it’s time for him to retire. He’s had an amazing career and why not end it on the high note of a Lakers championship? 11 titles is no easy feat and I don’t think that anyone in the league could blame him if he decided that this was his last year.

Jackson ‘leaning towards retiring’ [ESPN]

Kobe to Magic: Phil’s Leaving

Phil Jackson has already told Magic Johnson that this past season with the Lakers would be his last.  He told Magic that last year, but we all know how quickly things can change in professional sports — especially when you’re coming off back-to-back championship seasons.  Sometimes that makes it easier to leave, other times it makes it harder.  Jackson’s contract is up, but he has not yet made it clear what his future plans are.

I’m not sure if Magic is basing his prediction on the conversation he had with the 11-time champion last year or not, but he and Kobe Bryant seem to disagree about whether Jackson is staying or leaving.  Check out this video of Magic Johnson telling Kobe Bryant Phil Jackson is staying and Kobe saying he’s leaving, courtesy of You Been Blinded via YouTube user karceno2:

Great find there and even better lip-reading by karceno2.  Considering Stuart Scott just asked Phil if he was staying or going, it’s obvious that’s what the two are talking about.  I’m not sure whether to believe Magic, who knows the Lakers better than almost anyone and is a master of predictions, or Kobe, who now has won five rings with Jackson and may have a bit more inside knowledge.  I assume we’ll find out who’s right very shortly.

Kobe Bryant Tells Magic Johnson Phil Jackson is Leaving [You Been Blinded]
Video Credit: YouTube user karceno2

Phil Jackson Tells His Players Celtics Know How to Lose Games

I have mixed feelings about posting this video. On a fundamental level, I don’t think our TV cameras and microphones should be inside huddles and locker rooms for teams because it’s an invasion of their privacy. I don’t like it but I live with it. On the positive side, thanks to ABC’s access we caught a snippet of Lakers coach Phil Jackson mic’d up during the final minute. Trying to motivate his players as the team was down by five, Jackson took a shot at the Celtics. Here’s the video of Phil Jackson telling his players the Celtics know how to lose games late:

Phil could get criticized or laughed at by Boston fans for his comments during that timeout but that would be unfair. Think of the circumstances: he’s the coach of the Lakers and trying to give them confidence and encouragement so they can come back in the game. What else is he supposed to say? By the way, the Lakers may have had a chance at the comeback if Ron Artest hadn’t missed both his free throws, failed to foul Rajon Rondo on the layup, and then fouled Ray Allen over Rondo. Not saying it would have happened, but at least they would have had a better shot.

Video Credit: YouTube user MojoHoopsTube

Chris Rock Punked by Phil Jackson During Interview with Doris Burke

As seriously as some people take the NBA, I’m glad that ABC is there to remind us that it’s nothing more than entertainment. That’s the message they were trying to send, right? Flashing to celebrities left and right and sending a normally focused and to-the-point interviewer like Doris Burke out to do fluff pieces certainly showed us what their priorities were. I’m sure glad that the Lakers weren’t pushed around and that Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson put the clowns in their places.

While Kobe was trying to focus on winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals, comedian Chris Rock was sitting courtside and trying to crack jokes. Kobe straight pokerfaced Rock who didn’t seem to understand that Kobe was at work to perform his job. As if that wasn’t good enough, apparently Lakers coach Phil Jackson ruined Doris Burke’s courtside interview with Rock. Here’s the Phil Jackson/Chris Rock video:

I’ve always said that sideline reporters were useless in sports and this further confirms my feelings. Who would have thought that this is what it would take for me to connect with Phil and Kobe? Way to go guys!

Jackson Tries to Squash Rumors, Still Leaves Future a Mystery

We all know by now that Phil Jackson is an absolute master of mind games.  Most will argue that it’s one of the main contributing factors to the success he’s had throughout his career.  The most likely scenario for Jackson’s future is that he either continues to coach the Lakers, or retires.  Last season, he told Magic Johnson that he had “one more year after this one with the Lakers.”  Even then, he chose to say “with the Lakers”, which doesn’t exactly close the door on the possibility him coaching another team.

With the LeBron James frenzy in full-force, rumors have run wild that Jackson may be interested in reuniting with the Chicago Bulls next season — one of LeBron’s most likely landing spots.  The chatter is even more intriguing when you consider the rumors that Jackson would have to take a 60% pay cut (he’s making $12 million this season) if he wants to continue to coach the Lakers for another season.  Last night, before LA’s Game 4 Western Conference Finals loss to the Phoenix Suns, Jackson remained emphatic that he is not interested in coaching the Bulls next season:

I have no, at all, desire to go back to Chicago and coach the Bulls.”

Sounds pretty direct, right?  Not exactly.  In order to press him further, a reporter came up with a clever request when he said, “You can end all this talk, any distraction and all these rumors — just say I’ll either be with the Lakers next year, or I’ll be home. Go ahead.”  Of course, the Zen Master couldn’t allow it to be that simple, and gave yet another open-ended response:

[Read more...]

Steve Nash Responds to Phil: Gregg Popovich Is Best Coach in NBA

Lakers coach Phil Jackson fired a preemptive strike at the Suns on Friday, saying their point guard Steve Nash illegally carries the ball while dribbling. The Suns weren’t going to sit back and let Phil get the best of them, so they responded on Saturday. Steve Nash got in a shot on Phil Jackson and coach Alvin Gentry called out the Lakers’ dirty tactics:

Nash: “I’ve never heard anyone accuse me of carrying it. I mean, the best coach in the league Gregg Popovich (of San Antonio) didn’t have a problem with it last week.”

Gentry: “We spent the day ducking elbows on post-ups, to see if we could duck elbows on post-ups, So it all works out, it all works out.”

That certainly was a good way for Nash to get back at Jackson who is considered by many to be the best coach in the league and possibly the best all-time. Alvin Gentry actually said the same thing prior to the Suns/Spurs series, so you have to wonder if that’s the consensus sentiment around the Phoenix locker room. As far as Gentry’s criticism, I believe the tone was more casual and joking than Nash’s and unfortunately it won’t garner the same attention from the refs as Jackson’s comments will. The anticipation for this series just picked up quite a bit.

Suns smirk at Jackson’s accusation of ‘traveling’ by Phoenix’s Nash [AP/SI]