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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.

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

Genius Phil Jackson Tries to Get in Steve Nash’s Head

David Stern may have threatened to suspend coaches who influence the referees but that didn’t stop Lakers coach Phil Jackson from letting loose Friday. The creative Zen Master delivered two knockouts with one punch and there probably isn’t a whole lot Stern can do about it. Much like when Phil got inside Kevin Durant’s head prior to the Thunder series saying KD was getting calls like a superstar, Jackson took a jab at Suns point guard Steve Nash on Friday and primed the officials at the same time:

Jackson praised Nash this week for pushing the Suns past San Antonio despite playing with a comically swollen right eye, but he wasn’t as flattering when asked whether it was tough for the Lakers to simulate the perennial All-Star during their practices this week.

“Yeah, because you can’t carry the ball like he does in practice,” Jackson said. “Can’t pick that ball up and run with it.”

You see how he does that? Now he has Nash self-conscious about carrying the ball, and the referees subconsciously will be thinking about this as well. Whether Nash or the officials will be impacted by the comments remains to be seen but there’s no question that Jackson’s set the agenda. And what possible penalty can David Stern impose? How do you contend with genius? You just have to let it go and chalk up another victory for the X-man.

Sources:
Lakers take time to rest and zing Suns’ Steve Nash [LA Times]

Phil Jackson Priming Officials, Durant Before Start of Playoffs

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.

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Phil Jackson: Dennis Rodman Is a Hall of Famer ‘Without a Doubt’

Last year’s class of players inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame was amongst the best ever — Michael Jordan, David Robinson, and John Stockton. This year’s class features likely inductees Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen. It could also include one of the strangest players to grace an NBA court — Dennis Rodman. Rodman used to say he didn’t care about the Hall but as recently as two years ago he admitted it would “be something special” to be inducted. Former teammates Isiah Thomas and Scottie Pippen supported his candidacy, as did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation, Rodman’s former Bulls coach Phil Jackson joined the chorus. Magic Johnson asked the question and here was Phil’s response:

“Without a doubt, doubt, doubt, doubt. People don’t understand that what he did and he was a rebounding phenomenon and incredible defensive [player]. And a smart player. Incredible, incredible. People don’t consider that, they don’t understand what makes Hall of Fame players.”

When you examine Rodman’s on-court resume, it’s pretty impressive. Consider the following: Rodman won five championships, was a two-time All-Star, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and 7-time rebounding champion. The dude averaged over 13 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for him, he’ll always be remembered first for what he did off the court and that’s something he brought on himself, but if you base things purely on what a player did on the court, Rodman probably deserves to be in. Defense and rebounding isn’t glamorous but they’re key elements to winning.

Phil Jackson Boasts with Special Red Auerbach X Hat for 10 Titles

With a 99-86 win in Game 5, the Lakers won their 15th NBA championship in franchise history. The series win gave coach Phil Jackson his record 10th title — six with the Bulls and four with the Lakers. Jackson now stands ahead of Red Auerbach who had won nine NBA titles, and he wore a hat at the post-game ceremony to commemorate his career. Check out the Roman Numberal “X” hat representing Phil’s 10 titles.

It was yellow with purple stitching to represent the Lakers’ colors and it had the years of each title on the sides of the cap. Phil said his kids made the hat for him and even though he was deflecting the blame to them, there’s no doubt he was boasting by putting it on as soon as he won. He didn’t need to do that but you can understand why he was proud. My guess is this is the last game he ever coaches because of his deteriorating health (have you seen him try to move around since the hip replacement surgery?).

Now the obvious question that comes up is how good of a coach is Phil? Stan Van Gundy says that Phil’s accomplishments are incomprehensible which is pretty true. Given the right situation though, some coach in the future could approach his numbers — say Mike D’Antoni should LeBron, Wade and Amare all go to the Knicks or something like that. But the question about Phil isn’t easily answered. The guy definitely picked his spots and wasn’t great enough to make the difference last year when the Lakers lost to the Celtics. He’s good enough to find the right situations and know when he needs to step in and when he needs to get out of the way. But even if the 10 rings suggest something else, I’d still have a hard time saying that he’s the greatest coach in the game when a guy like Gregg Popovich is around. Bottom line: you need excellent players to win, and Phil was always good enough to get them to win regardless of what he did or didn’t do.

Phil Jackson Tweaked by T.J. Simers, Drops F-Bomb in Post Game Conference

Ahh, the perils of live television! ESPN and ESPNEWS got burned Sunday when they chose to run Phil Jackson’s post game news conference live following Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals series between the Lakers and Rockets.

Bothered by the notoriously fearless and often times disrespectful T.J. Simers, who asked if the Lakers were embarrassed by their loss to the Yao Ming-less Rockets, Jackson offered up this:

“Are we embarrassed?” Phil asked rhetorically. “No, we’re not embarrassed. No, Houston played a great game. Give them some f—ing credit. For real. This kid (Aaron) Brooks played great tonight. They played well.”

I agree with Phil here — sometimes a team losing isn’t because of what they did wrong but because of what the other team did right. That’s what happened with Houston. They were fired up, hot early in the game, and they held the lead. Aaron freakin Brooks had a career game with 34 points! Sometimes you can’t just criticize a team for losing but you need to credit the opposition for doing things well — that was the case on Sunday.

The nutter butters and harvey bars at Tirico Suave have the uncensored Phil Jackson cussing video if you’re interested.

Phil Jackson Done With Lakers After Next Season

I’m guessing this isn’t necessarily at the forefront of Laker fans’ minds considering the team went to the finals last year and appear poised for another run this year. Still, despite the strong start and the focus on the matter at hand, what Phil Jackson supposedly dropped in an interview with Magic Johnson will certainly change discussions. From Rotoworld:

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Friday he plans on retiring after coaching the Lakers next season. “One more year after this one with the Lakers,” Jackson told Magic Johnson during an interview that will air during Sunday’s game. Jackson had hip replacement surgery two years in a row and needed a walking cane to get around for much of last season.

I’m not sure where that cut came from — maybe it was teased during Friday’s Mavericks/Pistons game that was such a blowout I didn’t bother watching. The Lakers host the Spurs Sunday on ABC, so I’m guessing that’s when all the talk will commence. The big question after that point is pretty clear: who will replace him? The job is appealing for obvious reasons — Kobe and Pau being the most visible ones. It will be hard to imagine Phil walking away without having won a championship since returning to the team and I’m guessing he’d be done for good if he does retire after next season. You think this will spark some “let’s win one for the Gipper” behavior amongst the players? Is that why he’s dropping this now? Or is he trying to get the ball rolling on a new multi-million dollar contract?