Interesting premise out of Bill “one sentence paragraph” Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times today — that Los Angeles likes, but doesn’t love, Phil Jackson. Not the way they loved Pat Riley or Tommy Lasorda.
He may have mastered Zen, but he has not mastered Los Angeles.
There will be no statue of him outside Staples Center. There might not ever be a night honoring his achievements. There will be very little fanfare when he retires, just as there was very little outcry when he left the team several years ago.
He is not Tom Lasorda. He is not Pete Carroll. He is not Mike Scioscia. He is not the sort of folksy personality that this town expects of its high-profile coaches.
More than anything else, he is not Pat Riley.
More than anything, Jackson is not an easy interview of simplistic personality that makes a columnist’s job easier. He is not bombastic on the sidelines — fans like that because we would want to yell at the players when they screw up and a coach doing that is cathartic for us. We like it when Stan Van Gundy gets sarcastic with the refs and his players.
Phil Jackson is loved in Los Angeles. There may not be the public displays of affection that Carroll and Riley got, but that is because Jackson doesn’t seek them out like those two (with their massive egos). Or Riley for that matter.
That doesn’t mean Jackson isn’t loved. And the reason there was not a crazy outcry over letting Jackson walk from the Lakers the first time was that Shaq had just been traded and Lakers fans were focused on that as anger issue number one.
Phil Jackson is not going to have a statue outside Staples center. But there is no statue of Lasorda outside Dodger Stadium, not one of Carroll outside the Coliseum (it would have been trashed last month anyway) and no statue of Riley anywhere in the city. You don’t build statues to coaches.
And for the record, Plaschke, the very definition of Zen is that you can never truly master it.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.