Monday, May 9, 2011

What About Phil Jackson's Legacy?

Last week, I wrote a post headlined "Death of a Dynasty" with a question mark, since even if all signs pointed towards an ugly end to the Phil/Kobe era, you still kind of had a feeling that the Lakers weren't done just yet. These were after all the two time champs who seemed to always find their way out of trouble, even with half the country hoping they didn't. Well, now we can officially declare them dead, in an uglier way than even the most ardent Laker hater could imagine, first blowing an 8 point lead in game 3 and then getting demolished yesterday. To make things even worse, L.A. went out like suckers with a couple of the all time worst cheap shots in NBA history.

So where does this leave the "Zen master"'s legacy? I don't think it does too much to tarnish Phil's resume, but at least some blame should be thrown his way. If Jackson gets so much credit for managing superstar personalities (if not for x's and o's) when his stacked teams win, he needs to take a little crap on his way out for the implosion of this super talented squad. How else to explain a team that's so universally regarded for their basketball smarts and composure down the stretch finishing 3 out of the 4 games looking like they just met each other an hour before tip-off? We're constantly reminded by Jackson supporters and media experts (in particular Jackson hanger-on and all around idiot, Charley Rosen) that Phil's strength is his ability to get superstars to gel, as well as the most out of borderline personalities, so the fact that his second best player played like a little girl, and his third and fourth best players decided to get all Laimbeer when the game got out of reach, should be looked at as a fail on Jackson's part. You can't take away that he's got more rings than fingers (as a coach alone) but a series long bed-shitting takes a little shine off his previously Teflon reputation.

His comments during his postgame press conference have already been analyzed, from his almost immediate use of the third person to describe "The Lakers" as opposed to "us" to the way that he seemed more relieved that it was over than upset. Then again, he never loses his cool, except for his public bitching out of Pau the other night. That was a sure fire sign that Phil knew the end was near and one of his star players was screwing up his legacy. But my favorite moment from the Phil post game press conference that captures Jackson's aura and personality, was this answer to a question about his thoughts on Rick Carlisle's comments about what he'll be doing with all that free time on his Montana ranch without basketball: "First of all, you don't smoke Peyote". Let's see Brian Shaw work that into a press conference.

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